As we take in the magnitude of the verdicts in both the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases….
It is a time of listening and learning. Listening within ~ to our own thoughts and feelings. And listening to others, friends and neighbors, colleagues and co-workers. And also listening to African American friends and voices who are rightfully outraged by the events.
In Emilie’s role on the Summit Interfaith Council, she has been reaching out to the ministers of African American congregations in Summit to listen to how these verdicts are affecting their communities, to offer support and to re-commit as an ally. The exchanges and conversations have been rewarding and valuable. One of our colleagues mentioned that they have been witnessing the role of Unitarian Universalists in their yellow “Standing on the Side of Love” t-shirts at the protests. Our presence makes a difference. Showing up matters.
There is a lot of learning occurring too. The recent events have spurred within us a desire to seek more knowledge. There are so many excellent resources out there; click the links to go deeper.
- Listen to the podcast of Terry’s sermon on Nov 23rd
- The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander
- Look for American police forces taking different paths with great success
- Learn how to speak with your children about race
- Consider studies on unconscious racial bias and consider how science is helping us frame our growing.
While listening and learning are good tools, don’t get stuck there. Don’t let it be a way of hiding.
It is also a time for speaking up.
UCS has been establishing safe spaces to talk about race and white privilege, about mass incarceration of black men, about the New Jim Crow, and now about the lack of justice when unarmed black men and boys are killed by police officers. Our Spirit in Practice Circles this month are talking about liberation theology. These groups are practicing what it’s like to walk in the shoes of those who are oppressed and invisible in our society.
These are not easy things to talk about. We know. Speaking up. Being able to put words to our thoughts and emotions is difficult. But we must all have the courage to speak up. Risking speaking – even when we are scared we will say the wrong thing – is critical. We have learned through Beloved Conversations that people are longing for a place where they can begin the conversations. There will never be true healing if we cannot acknowledge racism and white privilege in our communities and country.
Next week the Summit Interfaith Council will deliberate on how we will work together and move forward. We also want you to know that this Fall Emilie met with Chief Robert Weck of the Summit police department. In our hour-long conversations that ranged from gun violence prevention to Ferguson, we talked about ways that the Interfaith Council and Police Department could work together in order to “seek the welfare of the City” – the mission statement of our Council.
It is also a time for action.
There is also a call to action. For some, the call is within. For others, the call is from colleagues and friends. Action is also critical. It is a spiritual practice. Terry attended the protest in Foley Square on Thursday afternoon along with folks from 4th Universalist, All Souls and Union Theological School. Unitarian Universalists across the country are wearing their yellow t-shirts and protesting online and on the streets. Our college students in Boston shared with me their experiences of protest. Our high school youth were featured in the Maplewood paper for their “die-in” protest.
The loudest call to action is just now being publicized. There is a call to come for a Millions March in NYC and around the nation next Saturday, December 13th at 2 PM. Stay tuned for details about location (both Washington Square Park and Union Square have been publicized). Last winter we answered the call for voters’ rights in Raleigh, NC. In the Fall we answered the call and marched in the People’s Climate March. Now, we are being called to New York City so that real change can occur.
Listen, speak up, and act. This is our task.
Rev. Emilie Boggis and Rev. Terry Sweetser