In this post, Roger Brewin of the Unitarian Universalist HUUmanists invites your participation in a project that unites UU humanists despite political differences of opinion, reflecting both humanist and UU values.- Ed.
An informal survey of humanists attending the 2011 GA, along with the previous debate among HUUmanist Board members over supporting a boycott of Phoenix, revealed deep divisions over a range of immigration related issues. When GA delegates voted to put together a Justice GA presence in Arizona, the HUUmanists Board chose to participate as fully as our differences would allow, which meant blending humanist values into the struggle for justice. We chose to focus our efforts on economic justice issues, where we have more unanimity.
But we cannot be in Arizona without confronting the oppression felt by Latino/a people in that state, both those who are recent immigrants and those who are long time US residents and citizens. This oppression was brought home to us when Arizona outlawed “ethnic studies” courses in public schools and removed nearly 100 books that were used as texts or supplemental reading in these courses from classrooms in Tucson. We cheered the efforts of Tony Diaz, the so-called “librotraficante” who smuggled nearly 1,000 copies of these books in a caravan from Houston to Tucson, setting up “underground libraries” to house the books and make them widely available to children and adults.
We determined to ask our members, indeed all Unitarian Universalists going to Phoenix, to join us as SmUUgglers of these books. We were initially hoping that 100 people would each buy one of the books and carry it in their suitcase to GA. To date, more than150 people have agreed to do just that and we now will be able, with your help, to display and then donate at least two full sets of the banned books, during GA.
The right to read, to explore, to discuss new, different and even conflicting ideas – nothing could be more central to the humanist enterprise, nor more ingrained in Unitarian Universalist history. The decision by Arizona political leaders to deny such opportunities, and the attempt to thoroughly control education and intellectual freedom of the school children of Arizona is an affront to all free people. No one need agree with the ideas in these books to know instinctively that to take them off classroom shelves is a bad idea. (more…)
In this post, Laura Wagner, chair of the Social Action Committee at First Parish Church Unitarian Universalist in Northborough, MA, shares her story of working with members of the local immigrant community and other allies to make a difference.- Ed.
In August of 2011 a tragic accident occurred in Milford, MA. An undocumented person from the Ecuadorean community, who was driving while intoxicated, struck and killed a young man. Animosity between the Milford citizens, the majority of whom are white, and the estimated 2,500 people of the Ecuadorean community (recently migrated to the US, many of whom are undocumented) had already existed prior to the accident. The accident became the catalyst which unleashed newly intensified anti-immigration action organized by local Milford citizens.
Within eight days following the accident, leaders from the Ecuadorean community emerged and a meeting took place in which 250 people participated after receiving only eight hours notice. The Ecuadorians, who are mostly Catholic, were offered meeting space and support by the local Catholic Church, St. Mary’s of the Assumption. Over the coming weeks several more meetings of the Ecuadorean community took place and eventually included allies from Unitarian Universalists, Quakers, AFSC/Providence, MIRA Coalition, Centro Presente, Lutheran Immigrant and Refugee Service, both Latino priests associated with St. Mary’s and an Anglo community members from Milford. (more…)
This month, Cooking Together has explored partnership, both as spiritual practice and as effective strategy. This week’s post is written by Community Ministry intern Kierstin Homblette, who highlights the collaborative work of the congregations in the Boulder Denver Cluster. –Ed.
The seven Unitarian Universalist congregations of the Boulder Denver Cluster have been intentionally moving towards greater collaboration over the last several years. They have endeavored to work together, improve communication between the congregations, and create opportunities for coordination of their events. Although this increasing collaboration exists in many areas of congregational life, over the last year, one of the most exciting developments has been in the arena of immigration justice.
In November 2011 people from the seven congregations who were working on immigrant justice met and shared the goings-on in their congregation and in their immigration-focused groups. Several congregations already had established groups meeting regularly and working in partnership with community organizations, and representatives from these congregations were able to share how they got started, some of their recent successes, and some best practices that had been working for them. (more…)
The UUA has received permission from Frontline for Unitarian Universalist Congregations to show “Lost in Detention,” provided no admission is charged. This permission means that individual congregations do not have to request public performance permission to screen this film. The documentary examines current US immigration policy and the enforcement system, including stories of hidden abuse in detention centers. View or purchase the documentary at Frontline’s website, or check the public library.
Unitarian Universalists have an extra reason to watch this compelling documentary. The Frontline documentary’s correspondent is Maria Hinojosa, who will deliver this year’s Ware Lecture at General Assembly in Phoenix. From NPR:
For 25 years, Maria Hinojosa has helped tell America’s untold stories and brought to light unsung heroes in America and abroad. She is the anchor and managing editor of NPR’s Latino USA.
Throughout her career Hinojosa has helped define the conversation about our times and our society with one of the most authentic voices in broadcast. As a reporter for NPR, Hinojosa told groundbreaking stories about youth and violence and immigrant communities. During her eight years as a CNN correspondent Hinojosa took viewers into communities that had never been shown on television. Her investigative journalism presses the powerful for the truth while giving voice to lives and stories that illuminate the world we live in.
Gather a group to screen Lost in Detention at your congregation and let us know about your event. Plan to hear Maria Hinojosa’s June 23 lecture either in person at Phoenix or via uua.org! – Ed.
Our partner organizations in Arizona have called for the repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery and the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. What do we need to know in order to respond faithfully to this call? This next post in our series was written by Kamila Jacob, who works in the UU United Nations Office. – Ed.
In 1452, a papal doctrine was created endorsing the conquest and exploitation of non-Christian lands and peoples. One example of the implementation of this doctrine is an event glorified in U.S. history books: Christopher Columbus sailed the seas in 1492 in search for new land. Columbus followed a doctrine that permitted him to conquer and colonize any “discovered” lands not already under Christian dominion. Upon his return home, the bull Inter Caetera of May 3, 1493 was issued by the Pope, affirming the right to conquer lands and impose Christianity.
Centuries later, in 1823, the Doctrine of Discovery was taken up in the U.S. Supreme Court case Johnson v. M’Intosh and the resulting opinion adopted the notion of “discovery” into U.S. Law. The language of this decision is adapted from documents such as the bull Inter Caetera. Though some claim the court decision does not refer to religion, it states that already established native communities were properly and legally colonized because their religious and cultural practices do not follow that of those in power. Throughout our history, policies and discriminatory laws have been created from this doctrine. These policies and laws continue to exist due to ignorance of this history and lack of action to overturn the Doctrine of Discovery.
The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), adopted at the UN General Assembly on September 13th, 2007, is an aspirational document, which means that it is not legally binding. It acknowledges rights such as religion, culture, and property of indigenous peoples and holds governments aspirationally responsible for the human rights of those who are indigenous. Canada signed the Declaration on November 12th, 2010, and the government pronounced that it would take steps to make this aspirational document consistent with Canada’s Constitution and laws. President Obama’s signature on UNDRIP on December 16th, 2010 was recognition of past dehumanization and discrimination of Native Americans in the United States. However, implementation of this declaration will require more than just good intentions. Fully implemented, this declaration will hold leaders accountable for defending the rights of indigenous peoples.
Native Americans have been discriminated against socially, institutionally, and legislatively for hundreds of years. One aspect of this longtime discrimination has been unfair compensation for land without due process. Now that our nation is a signatory for UNDRIP, it is time for our nation to follow its provisions. (more…)
In this post, reprinted from a January 26, 2012 entry in her own blog, Rev. Kathleen McTigue shares what happened when she and others worked together to hold the mayor of East Haven, Connecticut, accountable for his lack of response to federal indictments brought against police officers in the city, charging them with racial harassment of members of the Hispanic community.- Ed
It’s been a busy week in East Haven, Connecticut.
On Tuesday, the FBI arrested four East Haven police officers on charges of false arrest, excessive force, conspiracy and obstruction of justice. The charges were related to many years’ worth of abuse that Hispanic members of the community have suffered, including racial profiling, harassment and beatings. In its indictment the Justice Department accused the East Haven police of “biased policing, unconstitutional searches and seizures, and the excessive use of force”. The New York Times called it “a harrowing picture of arbitrary justice for Hispanic residents.”
One would hope that this kind of news would receive widespread attention and outrage, but in today’s world that seems to be the luck of the draw: sometimes people pay attention and sometimes they don’t. This time, thanks to the remarks of East Haven’s mayor, Joseph Maturo, the wider world is all over the story.
On Wednesday, Maturo was interviewed about the arrest of his police officers by a reporter for WPIX (Channel 11), who asked what he intended to do for the Latino community in light of the charges. Maturo replied, “I might have tacos when I go home. I’m not sure yet”. During the nearly five-minute clip — which immediately went viral — Maturo became more combative but never truly engaged the question. He returned repeatedly to the taco statement.
So today, I helped deliver around 500 tacos to the mayor’s office in protest of both his insensitivity and the larger issue of racism in our area. This brilliant idea was hatched by Reform Immigration for America, which invited anyone outraged by the mayor’s remarks to text them and order a taco to be sent to the mayor. It was enacted by Junta for Progressive Action, the lead organization serving the Spanish-speaking community in the greater New Haven area.
We were a small group, led by Junta’s Acting Director, Latrina Kelly. The restaurant that had agreed to make the tacos was in over its head: the protest orders kept flooding in until within just 24 hours, they’d received over 2,700 texts. The media attention had also made the restaurant owners and workers nervous: they requested anonymity, and accompaniment for delivering the tacos. So, off we went, about a dozen of us carrying trays and trays of tacos. We walked in through the big glass doors of town hall and were met by literally dozens of reporters and television cameras, everyone jockeying for position. (more…)
Within the last year, the Michigan Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Network (MUUSJN) has partnered with the Alliance for Immigrants Rights and Reform Michigan to educate Unitarian Universalists about immigration reform. On December 28, 2011, members of the alliance had an opportunity to take action that got positive results! MUUSJN and local Unitarian Universalists from All Souls Community Church of West Michigan attended a rally in Grand Rapids to stand up for three small children and their immigrant mother, Victoria Lorenzo-Calmo. In this post, Randy Block, Director of MUUSJN, tells the story.- Ed.
Victoria Lorenzo-Calmo fled to America in 2001 after being brutally abused by her ex-husband. After coming to the United States, Victoria met and married a man from Guatemala who appreciates and loves her. Until recently, they lived in Grand Rapids, MI with their three children, who are American citizens. Earlier this year, her husband was deported to Guatemala. Until recently, she awaited her own deportation hearing. Every time the phone rang, Victoria feared it might be the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) calling to tell her that her immigration date had arrived. (more…)
The Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of California (UULMCA) is paying attention to training the next generation of UU Social Justice leaders. This fall, they launched a 10-month internship program for passionate, idealistic, and entrepreneurial young adult leaders. Under the direction of Rev. Sonya Sukalski, the program aims to build leaders who are healthy in spirit, mind, and body. They will engage with current campaigns and leaders while also discovering how to sustain a lifelong commitment to social justice via theological reflection, community building and personal spiritual practice. The SALT program flyer invites you to follow adventures of this year’s 16 SALT Fellows on the website of the UULMCA, and to look for them at Justice GA in Phoenix!
At the 2001 General Assembly in Cleveland, OH, delegates marched to the baseball stadium to protest the use of the name “Indians” as the team mascot. This effort was particularly cathartic for me. I was a relatively new UU and a long time fan of another baseball team with an equally racially-charged mascot, the Atlanta Braves. I honestly had never been bothered by such team names, and the march and rally challenged me to rethink the insensitivity and privilege of the dominant culture, of which I am a part.
As the delegates filed out of the hall and into a pouring rain, someone started singing “One More Step”, a hymn written by Canadian UU composer, Joyce Poley. No one had copies of Singing the Living Tradition in hand, and it appeared to be an impromptu decision to sing together as we marched in peaceful protest. I was moved to tears as I began a journey of bringing music to the cause of social witness. Although we were guests in that city, our music brought a calming, yet galvanizing, presence to the protest. (more…)