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Gratitude: More families together

No Comments | Share On Facebook| Gratitude: More families together Share/Save/Bookmark Nov 27, 2014

One week ago, President Obama issued an executive order that would stop the deportations of millions of undocumented immigrants. We asked several justice partners and UUs to share their thoughts, especially those who would be directly affected by this administrative action.

Whether or not you observe Thanksgiving, let’s take a moment to think about families and communities who can now stay together. While many of the reflections below mirror the sentiments of people across the country who had hoped this action would include more people, there is recognition that there are glimmers of hope for many families who will now no longer live under fear of deportation.

We wish you a happy season of thanks and gratitude and send you off with a reminder that when we stand on the side of love, we recognize that Love respects the worth and dignity of all people, Love has no borders, and Love keeps families together!

In faith,

The SSL Team & Partners

P.S. We are grateful for all the ways you have stood on the side of love this year.

Marisa Franco, Lead Organizer with the National Day Laborers Organizing Network (NDLON) Read her full statement here.

We are making real the idea that truly, a secure community is an organized one. In a system built to (dis)function with the grey area of having people work, produce and form part of community without rights and recognition, more and more people are showing they are unwilling to live in the shadows. Its been tested, with success, that there is protection in community.  {This} was not the first time people hear bad news. However this time for many, perhaps, it was not received watching television at home alone. In Arizona, for example, after years of Arpaio, of a succession of anti-immigrant bills people received the news together. There was a space to express the frustration, to cry or to simply react out loud. It was very clear that the job was not done, that we must not leave anyone behind… What we win, we defend. And we keep fighting and pushing to expand and build on our advancements. Poco a poco, inch by inch, the way we got here.

Carlos Garcia, with Puente Arizona. Read his full statement here.

If #Not1More has shown us anything its that there are multiple paths toward winning rights and stopping suffering.  Organizing to stop deportations isn’t giving up hope on immigration reform or legislation in Congress.  It empowers and allows people to be engaged in our own liberation. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals came in the shadow of the DREAM Act’s failure but it was no less of a victory.  Deferred Action for Parents is much much less than what the President could do and nowhere near what the people who have fought for it deserve.  But we will never allow either to be undone and we will press forward at every level of government, starting from the bottom up.

La Santa Cecelia sing outside the Metropolitan Detention Center in Los Angeles at the NDLON watch party on the night of the Executive Order announcement

Some personal reflections following President Obama’s speech -

Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, UU Church of Phoenix, Arizona

We can be hopeful and proud of the amazing organizing work of the migrant and immigrant community, and their allies.  This victory is a result of the power that undocumented immigrants have built through their courage, their truth telling, their dreams and their relentless hope and struggle.  Millions of people including families, children and parents, will be given relief from fear of being separated, fear of deportation.  This is an undeniable good.  We can be hopeful, joyful and yet still unsatisfied at the same time.  Indeed, we must.

I am encouraged that the President included major changes to Secure Communities in his actions. This failed policy undermined community trust in law enforcement, by making any contact with law enforcement, even a minor traffic stop, a potential path to deportation.  The President has repeatedly said he will not deport people who are not serious criminals, but Secure Communities has resulted in many such people being deported who are no threat to community safety.  Ending Secure Communities has been a key ask of Puente here in Arizona and significant changes to the policy to bring it into line with due process and to make it voluntary is a big shift.  We must watch to see how these changes unfold over the next many months.

Finally, I realize the importance and need for compromise and I am celebrating the actions of the President and the difference it will make to millions of people.  At the same time, despite all the soaring rhetoric of the President’s speech, what came across loud and clear was the message that undocumented immigrants are criminals, and this I cannot, do not support.  His speech put all the responsibility, all the blame, on the shoulders of immigrants.  The President was silent on the foreign trade policies, NAFTA  being a huge one, that actually fuel migration.  No culpability for our own country’s reliance and insistence on a large, undocumented, exploitable labor force was acknowledge.  No responsibility was taken for the decades when the United States relied on and encouraged workers to come north but refused to provide legal pathways.

Migration will be an issue the world will face ongoing.  Global trade policies that further impoverish marginalized communities as well as the realities of climate change will make migration a reality we must adapt to.  I cannot be satisfied with criminalizing migrants.  As a person of faith, I believe it immoral to criminalize people who flee to other lands to survive, whether they are fleeing violence or starvation.  We must reverse laws and policies that criminalize the poor.   One day, it is my hope we will embrace policies that seek the full opportunity of all people and all nations, that highlight the interdependence we have as one human family, and the interdependence we have with our one home, the earth.

Leila Pine, Retired Attorney and Volunteer with No More Deaths, a ministry of the UU Church of Tucson

Obama’s Executive Order a Good First Step, But We Need Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Several friends and acquaintances have asked me, as an advocate for undocumented immigrants and immigrant rights for the past 16 years, what I think about President Obama’s executive order to allow up to four million undocumented immigrants to apply for a two-year protection from deportation.

Militarization of the border, which has wasted billions of dollars of taxpayer money on an impossible goal, has been a huge profit-maker for the defense industry, meanwhile creating an ever-deepening humanitarian crisis at the border, with at least 6,000 men, women and children, many of whom have died in the desert while trying to return to their families in the U.S.

An expired visa used to be a civil administrative issue, not a crime leading to prison. But it seems when the immigrants have brown faces or Hispanic or Asian last names, we’ve always had different standards for them. Our first immigration law was the Chinese Exclusion Act in the 1880’s, when we deported thousands of Chinese railroad workers whom we had exploited for 10 years to build our railroad system. And until 1953, our federal laws still stated that only white immigrants could apply for U.S. citizenship.

Obama’s executive order is a great first step that will save four million immigrants from having their families torn apart by deportations. But now we have to fight for the other seven million people.  Contrary to what Republicans and the media allege, the executive order does NOT give them any legal immigration status or a path to citizenship, just a two-year reprieve from deportation, and a work permit.  It does not fix our seriously broken immigration system.

And many immigrant families, as well as those of us in the immigrant rights movement, still mourn the fact that Obama has already deported a record high two million undocumented immigrants, far more than George W. Bush ordered during his entire eight years in office.

More than 75% of the children of undocumented immigrants are U.S.-born citizens, so that is a disaster for those families that can’t be remedied. The trauma, disruption and clinical depression those children and their parents feel over being torn apart are real and devastating, as they would be for anyone’s family in the U.S.

Some immigrants are also worried that when Obama leaves office in two years, a Republican president and Congress will use all the information they sent to the Department of Homeland Security to simply deport everyone who has registered in good faith for this program or for DACA.

So once again, things are never as simple as the politicians or some of the mainstream media make them out to be.  But it’s still the first ray of light we’ve seen in a couple of decades, so we are grateful for these small crumbs of justice, and will continue to fight for a fair, rational and humane immigration system for all.

 

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365 Days of Love!

No Comments | Share On Facebook| 365 Days of Love! Share/Save/Bookmark Nov 24, 2014

Over the past three years, Standing on the Side of Love (SSL) supporters co-created a beautiful expression of our faith called Thirty Days of Love. From roughly Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Day to Valentines Day (or as we call in around here, National SSL Day!) together we explored thirty days of education, reflection, and action on important social justice issues.

People really appreciated it and loved it, and you also offered feedback on ways to improve the campaign. Many of you wanted a focus on one justice issue, and we heard you! So this spring, Standing on the Side of Love will join Commit2Respond, for a month of climate justice. Between World Water Day and Earth Day, we will make commitments and take actions to grow the climate justice movement, shift to clean, renewable energy, and advance the human rights of frontline, marginalized communities.

UUs in San Antonio gathered for 30 Days of Love

Commit2Respond is a joint campaign of the Unitarian Universalist Association, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, UU Ministry for Earth, UU College of Social Justice, UU Environmental Justice Collaboratory, and Diverse Revolutionary UU Multicultural Ministries. This is a really exciting new project for Standing on the Side of Love to join! Resources will be available in January for you to begin planning.

Standing on the Side of Love also compiled the most popular resources from the past Thirty Days of Love so that you can access these resources throughout the year for worship, religious education, or in whatever ways are most meaningful to you. We believe these resources will move you and your congregations and communities for not just 30 days, but 365 days throughout the year! On our new page for 365 Days of Love you will find resources for to honor important upcoming civil rights anniversaries, links to multicultural ministries, ideas for building bridges of love, and much more. So be sure to check this out and share with others!

Let us know how you will be standing on the side of love in 2015, and let us know what resources are most helpful to you!

In faith,

Jen, Nora and the SSL team

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365 Days of Love: Love Resources you can use all year

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Thanks for checking out these resources from past Thirty Days of Love that you can use all year round! This year, we are excited to support thirty days of action on climate justice from World Water Day(March 22) to Earth Day(April 22).

Many of our UU partners are collaborating on this exciting new venture, so check out Commit2Respond to learn more about how you can get involved. Resources will be available in early 2015, so be sure to check back with Commit2Respond then to learn more!

We have also curated resources from our many partners who collaborated with us over the past three years to create Thirty Days of Love that ran approximately from MLK Day to SSL Day. See below for fantastic worship service ideas, religious exploration, themes to use for congregations, and so so much more. While this year will be different, we are excited by what is to come, and we hope you join us on this next part of our shared journey!

UUs in San Antonio gathered for 30 Days of Love

 Share the Love Sunday: February 15, 2015

Click here for our updated Share the Love Sunday resources

We are really excited to have a renewed emphasis on this, our SIXTH year of Re-Imagining Valentines Day! There is much you can do this year on Love Sunday, including have a love themed worship, giving out a Courageous Love Award to congregants or justice partners, and lifting up the important social justice work of your congregation.

And last but certainly not least consider taking up a collection to support Standing on the Side of Love! You might even want to have a shared plate collection and give a portion of the donations raised to a local community organization whose values match ours, while also giving back to SSL to sustain this work for years to come.

Click here for resources and tips on how to receive an offering at your congregation.

Themes

Below are some of the themes from the past Thirty Days of Love campaigns. Please feel free to incorporate any of the resources below as you see fit.

Multicultural Ministries and Justice

 MLK Day: Fifty Years after Selma/Civil Rights

Each year, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day provides us with an opportunity to reflect, learn and act around pressing social justice issues calling our hearts. As we celebrate a number of civil rights anniversaries and continue to support organizing happening in Ferguson and beyond, how can we approach MLK Day in new ways?  What can you do to look at the MLK Day Holiday in a new light this year? Share with others on twitter using the #UUsLivingtheDream hashtag!

  • Dr. Martin Luther King was the UUA General Assembly Ware Lecturer in 1966. Read his always stirring words here.
  • Connect with the growing movement for racial justice and an end to mass incarceration: see www.uua.org/thenewjimcrow for resources, partners, sermons, and more.
  • Find UUs Resisting New Jim Crow & Mass Incarceration on Facebook, a learning community for building the movement.
  • Check out the UUA’s new opportunities for youth to engage with multiculturalism and racial justice analysis-building. The Be The Change! Project includes an interactive, multimedia six-session training and related resources for entry-level discussions around race in our faith and our communities.

Story of Self, Now, Us: Creating a Collective Vision Guide

“A story communicates fear, hope, and anxiety, and because we can feel it, we get the moral not just as a concept, but as a teaching of our hearts. That’s the power of story. That’s why most of our faith traditions interpret themselves as stories, because they are teaching our hearts how to live as choiceful human beings capable of embracing hope over fear, self-worth and self-love over self-doubt, and love over isolation and alienation.”     - Marshall Ganz

Building Bridges of Love

These resources offer us a chance for us to reach out past walls, barriers, or borders and engage in places we don’t usually go. By Building Bridges of Love, we can encourage ourselves and others to practice radical love and inclusion. Consider putting together service projects, interfaith exchanges, and community dinners.

Think Interfaith

The first step in building interfaith social justice partnerships (or strengthening old ones!) is meeting and getting to know our neighbors. Find time to go to a religious service of a different faith in your community–-whether it’s a mosque, synagogue, Episcopal Church, Buddhist temple, Quaker Meeting, or even a local meditation group. Learn more about their faith tradition and build new relationships!

Courageous Love Awards

The Courageous Love Award is for individuals or organizations that have exhibited courageous love and touched hearts. Presenting a Courageous Love Award is an opportunity to reach beyond your core social justice folks, and to engage your whole congregation or community in social justice work. It is also a chance to uplift others; strengthen and support partnerships you are already developing; and to join together with joy and with purpose those who have shared values.

Click to learn more and to access the Courageous Love Award template.

Creating a Family or Congregational Calendar

One of the most popular resources of Thirty Days of Love, now you can create your own calendar! Click through previous calendars to get ideas. Maybe you want to create monthly calendars with different themes throughout the year, or instead, maybe you want to create weekly themes for the whole year and match them up to congregational themes.

Check out these resources to get an idea of congregational calendar and family calendar. Then, you can download online calendar templates (like the ones available here) and create your own to fit your congregational planning!

Campus/Young Adult Resources

There are tons of great resources available in this Campus and Young Adult guide. Feel free to adapt as you see fit, and share with us if you create something that others can use!

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Transgender Day of Remembrance: Living into Solidarity

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On the eve of Trans Day of Remembrance 2014, Standing on the Side of Love’s Campaign Coordinator Nora Rasman sat down with Lourdes Ashley Hunter, co-founder and National Director of Trans Women of Color Collective (TWOCC) to talk about action, solidarity, healing and more. To see resources as you reflect and take action for Transgender Day of Remembrance click here.

Tell us about yourself. Who is Lourdes Ashley Hunter?

Well, just a little.  I am originally from Detroit, MI and recently relocated to Washington D.C. from NYC where I spent 12 years working in grassroots community organizing and non-profit management.  I’m an orator, researcher, dismantler of oppressive systems.  I have a degree in Social Theory, Structure and Change with concentrations in Race, Class and Gender Studies and a MPA.   I also love to cook, watch science fiction movies and drink wine.

Tell us about Trans Women of Color Collective (TWOCC)

I see my role in the movement as a facilitator of revolutionary change, a  creator of braver spaces for trans and gender non-conforming people of color to leap into their leadership.   There is a scarcity of visibility in mainstream LGBT organizations that actively engage in elevating the narratives, leadership and voices of transgender and gender non-conforming People of Color.  TWOCC is in solidarity to fill that void.  

TWOCC is born out of a need for the trans community of color to heal from the physical and structural violence that we are faced with everyday.  Our formula to create the revolutionary change we seek to shift paradigms is to center healing, restoration, fellowship and action in our movement building.

On August 17, 2013, Islan Nettles, a trans woman of color was pummeled into a coma outside a police station in Harlem. She died three days later.  Even though the police pulled a young man off her bloodied body, her murderer still walks the streets.  Islan was 21 years old.  

The trans community was devastated by this brutal assault.

In response, thirteen of us came together to talk about how trans women of color are portrayed in the media, are treated in the public and how we respond to violence-both physical and structural- in our community. We gathered together with the understanding that we didn’t just need rallies and vigils and calls to action, we understood from the beginning the need for healing, restoration and fellowship and then we could move towards action.

In the past year,  we have traveled the country raising visibility for our lived experiences, connecting with our community and building our movement through rallies, workshops, keynotes, healing and leadership retreats. TWOCC is a grassroots collective and while we have a fiscal sponsor (Casa Ruby) we are grassroots funded.  Our fundraising efforts enable us to operate our leadership retreats (TWOCC Leadership Retreat in The Hamptons, #BTR14 in Pittsburgh and  #BTROhio in Columbus, Ohio)  where we funded over 40 trans people of color to come together to engage the processes needed to move our movement forward.

TWOCC is 100% volunteer led and funded.  Our goal is to continue to create pipelines and pathways for trans and gender non-conforming people of color to leap into their leadership, live unapologetically and sustain collective socio-economic growth and development.  We have established chapters in New Orleans, Ohio, New York/NJ and our national headquarters in Washington, DC.

How can people support the work of TWOCC?

There are many ways to join in solidarity with our movement.  Our goal is to create braver spaces for trans and gender non-conforming folk to live unapologetically.  We know that the government will not fund our movement.  We understand the limitations of the non-profit industrial complex that restricts organizations from really doing the work to transform the lives of the folk they hope to serve.  We have seen and experienced it.  We maintain the belief that people are NOT deliverables.

Solidarity means funding our movement.  Solidarity is also not just money.  Being in solidarity with our work is also developing an analysis that is aligned with restorative justice and a clear understanding of how structural and physical  violence in the trans community of color are inextricably linked to our socio-economic growth and development.  It’s extremely challenging to compete with large LGBT organizations for funding for our movements but we do every day.  These organizations lack trans people of color in leadership roles (some have none on staff at all) and on their boards.   How can their work be informed or intentional without representation?

TWOCC cannot survive alone.  We encourage folk to divest from large LGBT organizations who lack representation and intentionality and invest their resources in businesses and organizations that represent and are actually doing the work in our community and are led by trans people of color such as TWOCC (twocc.us) of course, Casa Ruby (Executive, Director Ruby Corado), Trans Tech Social Enterprises (CEO, Angelica Ross) and Black Star Media (Co-Founder, Dr. Kortney Zeigler). Solidarity and support shows up in many ways.  Visit our sites and get connected!

How do you define solidarity? Is there someone who has exemplified solidarity in your work?

Solidarity is not a retweet, a like or share on facebook.  Solidarity is re-occurring intentional sustainable acts of service. It is time that we have Courageous Conversations in our communities that acknowledges the complicity and lack of action and response for Black Trans Lives.  The same year that our nation celebrates the 45th anniversary of The Stonewall Rebellion, 11 Trans Women of Color were brutally murdered in a 5 month span in this country with no national outrage.  For our collective liberation, it is imperative that we acknowledge how structural violence manifests in all our lives.  It connects us. In order to begin to heal and work in tandem to dismantle these systems whose sole purpose is to destroy us and have us destroy each other, we must acknowledge and affirm our truths.  An Act of Violence against one of us is an Act of Violence against all of us.  Solidarity is not fighting this battle alone.  Solidarity is not having to fight at all.

There are so many people who have been instrumental and who stand in solidarity with our movement. My comrade Alok Vaid-Menon is a phenomenal model of what solidarity looks like for me personally and professionally. The way they articulate how structural oppression is rooted in every aspect of our lives causes my heart to leap! Alok has been instrumental in uplifting the narratives and work of TWOCC and all trans and gender non-conforming people of color.  Solidarity looks like- using your access to resources to create space for others to thrive unapologetically in their truth.  Leveraging your access to create and make space.  I want to take this moment to honor the leadership and presence of Alok Menon and DarkMatter.

What does it look and feel like to live unapologetically in one’s truth?

Living unapologetically is having vision beyond your current circumstances.  Black trans people live in extreme poverty with 34% reporting an income less than $10,000 a year.  41% of black trans people have experienced homelessness so simply waking up is a revolutionary act.  Living unapologetically is knowing that everyday something will try to kill you but you still have to push it through.

It is euphoric and majestic. It’s being aware of your surroundings and letting go of the things that would deter your destiny.  No matter what, knowing where your power comes from and where your strength comes from.   Knowing that your existence is greater than anything anyone can define. We all have power. There are so many types of power- power that we each have.  We must use our power everyday as we navigate systems of oppression.

How do you remember, honor and celebrate people who are with us- both in body and spirit?

Healing is at the center of my work. Every moment is an opportunity to heal. I meditate, I have several altars in my home. I was raised in and by the church, my mother is a pastor, and healing is part of my everyday ritual.

I tend to surround myself with other healers so even when I’m not practicing, I know someone is. I know when I acknowledge how oppression manifests itself, I am practicing healing. We are impacted by systems designed to crush us so its good to always be in a place of healing.

Click here to learn more about the pressing, healing and revolutionary work of Trans Women of Color Collective today!

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For our veterans

1 Comment | Share On Facebook| For our veterans Share/Save/Bookmark Nov 10, 2014

As a Unitarian Universalist Minister who serves as an Army Reserve chaplain, I have seen the wounds that our veterans carry, both physical and spiritual. I myself struggle with chronic pain from a training injury I suffered as an enlisted soldier before I became a chaplain. The peacetime injury that I experienced pales in comparison to the wounds that many veterans returned home with from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As a nation, we sent these young women and men off to war. It is our responsibility to do all in our power to support them now that they are home.

In recognition of Veterans Day, I ask you to join me in protecting the rights of people, including veterans and many others, who are living with disabilities. Call Sen. Harry Reid, the U.S. Senate majority leader, at 202-224-2158. Ask him to bring the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) to a vote in the U.S. Senate.

When you call, press 2 to leave a short message. All you need to say in your message is the following:

“Hi, I’m [name] from [state]. I’m calling to urge Senator Reid to schedule a floor vote for the disability treaty before the end of this congressional session.”

People throughout the world who live with disabilities often experience stigma, marginalization, and discrimination. CRPD would provide greater legal protections to people with disabilities — including veterans — to ensure such things as access to public transportation, education, employment, housing, and safe drinking water and sanitation. Americans with disabilities would also benefit by being able to travel, study, and work overseas.

CRPD is modeled on the Americans with Disabilities Act, but until the United States ratifies the treaty, our country can’t fully participate in the global movement for disability rights.

Whether you agreed or not with the wars our nation chose to fight, we all still owe a duty to those who answered the call to serve. These young men and women displayed courage during their military service and have continued that bravery as they returned home to rebuild lives forever changed by the wounds they sustained. We must do our part to ensure that the rights of all of those veterans and others who live with disabilities are protected both in the United States and throughout the world.

Yours in faith,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rev. David Pyle

District Executive, Joseph Priestley District of the Unitarian Universalist Association

Chaplain (Captain) U.S. Army Reserve

P.S. This Veterans Day, take three minutes to protect the rights of people living with disabilities. Call Sen. Harry Reid today at 202-224-2158. Ask him to bring the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) to a vote in the U.S. Senate.

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