Search

In times like these: Remember, Reflect, RESIST!

Source: Grace D Chin,  gracedchin_illo  on Instagram

Source: Grace D Chin, gracedchin_illo on Instagram

I hope this message reaches you connecting to something that brings you joy.

The past couple of weeks, we have been inundated by the news of tragedy.

We have been bombarded by the news of mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, the tragic murders of Black Trans* women, the raiding and deportation of our immigrant siblings and the weight of grief, loss of loved ones and missed opportunities.

In the heaviness of life, we may feel that we are alone, that things are too much and/or we are not winning. We at #SideWithLove want you to know that none of that is true! You are not alone! In these times, we are building a resilient, intersectional and strong movement that will dismantle the grips of white supremacy.

Across the country, UUs are aligning with frontline and fenceline communities to resist what is happening, disrupting the status quo and facing power with POWER.

In the backdrop of the Two Yea Commemoration of Charlottesville and the Five Year Commemoration of the Murder of Mike Brown, we have been building our movement muscle and ablilty to be agile and to stay present. We continue to learn and adapt. We continue to stitch together these movement moments into a beloved organized community.

We have experienced the impact of our power. From forcing the abandonment of opening a detention center at Fort Sill in Lawton, OK led by our siblings Tsuru for Solidarity and supported by UUs in Lawton and Tulsa to the closing of the Homestead Detention Center where clergy and lay-leaders of UU South Florida congregations worked in right relationship with front-line partners We Count Florida.

"First there was the Tornillo Texas detention center. Committed witnesses from many walks of life worked to shut it down.

Then the Homestead detention center was opened and at its max held over 3,000 children ages 8 – 17 years of age. Many of the same witnesses who had worked to close Tornillo traveled to Homestead under the banner of Witness: Tornillo, Target: Homestead.

UUs from across the country left their homes and everyday lives to travel to South Florida. They worked with members of the UU Congregation of Miami’s Social Justice committee and joined forces with folks from other religious denominations as well as social justice activists with no religious affiliations.

For 175 days we documented in writing and through photos and videos all that we observed. We maintained communications with the press, local politicians and members of congress exchanging information.

Homeland Security, Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) staff did everything they could to make the facility as impenetrable as possible. But we climbed up ladders to see over fences. We talked with workers and community providers who were contracted to deliver services to the site. We held signs, made banners, and counted the days and the children.

When we watched the last of the buses carrying the remaining children away in the dark of night we knew that we had succeeded in our goal to SHUT IT DOWN! But that victory has been bitter sweet. Over the past six months we have heard HHS and ORR making false statements regarding these children. We know that they chose Homestead because it is on federal property, immune to state and local regulations and hidden from public view.

No one knows where the children are now. Our duty to these children is far from over. Not until we know for sure that they are safely reunited with family members will we be able to feel relief. For now we need to remain vigilant and be ready to take action again."

--Nannette Bartels - Member of UU Miami and Witness Homestead who challenged Elizabeth Warren at her Miami Town Hall to come to Homestead

In appreciation, Rev. Amy Carol Webb, Minister of River of Grass UU Congregation in Davie, Florida writes: We are very grateful for the passion and power of the steadfast lay-leadership of South Florida congregations who kept vigil in Homestead, hosted activists from other areas, organized our actions, and coordinated with other organizations. Those who bore witness day in and day out and held the rest of us to account." #CloseTheCamps

We do need to remain vigilant and be ready to take action, again and again. To support and love each other, hold each other to account, and defend our communities. We ask you to continue to stay with us and with each other. We ask you to join us on this journey where we believe that human rights and dignity are ours at birth and our faith demands us to fight for justice.

Here are two ways you can join us starting now and over the next month:

We all need some Fortification! Check out Season 3 Episode 9 where we hear from Rev. Dr. Jennifer Harvey, who is a writer, educator and activist whose passion is social change.

Prepare for the #ClimateStrikes! On September 20, three days before the UN Climate Summit in NYC, young people and adults will strike all across the US and world to demand transformative action be taken to address the climate crisis.

Millions of us will take the streets to demand a right to a future, and we’re inviting you to join Side With Love and StrikeWithUs!

In closing, we lift up Carolina Krawrik-Graham (she/her/they/them), a UU leader; and all that you have done for the anti-racist movement, Side With Love and the UUA. May we celebrate your life by continuing the fight for justice, my we dismantle the system of white supremacy and may you know you continue to shape us, the UUA and the movement.

Choose Love,

Everette R. H. Thompson

Side with Love: Organize... Agitate... Win and Repeat!

We know this tactic of shock and awe! When we begin to shift the current conditions by putting pressure and begin to gain results as we have in our campaign to close migrant child detention centers in Homestead and elsewhere, oppositional forces use these tactics. The current administration uses these tactics to continue to sow fear, panic, and to have us believe that the situation is too dire for us to resolve, that whatever we do is not enough. It is all lies! We are strong enough, if we are willing! The question at this moment, “Are you willing to make the moves that are needed to fight back and center human dignity?” “Are you ready to embody your values, ethics and morals?”

DefundICE_EndFamilySeparation_DefundHate.jpg

Immigration raids have been ongoing throughout the last decade. Communities have been organizing resistance in response. Racial policing and detainment have been happening in Black, Brown, Indigenous, Muslim and poor communities across the country. We have witnessed this in the continual rise of mass incarceration and hyper detention and deportation. It our responsibility to stop these forces that seek to destroy our basic humanity by organizing with communities that are most impacted and follow the leadership of organizations that are centrally positioned and held accountable by the people they uplift. This is not the time to aimlessly wonder, “What can we do?!” This is the time for intentional action.

We at Side With Love invite you to join with us as we fight back! Register now for our upcoming webinar on how to resist (exact date and time is being worked out with our partners. We will send you that info and if you can’t make it you will receive the recording.)

Here are three things you should do:

1) Host a teach-in. This is the moment to skill up on what is really happening. It is also a key moment to learn how to be an ally and make the choice to Side With Love when you witness injustice happening. You don’t have to do this alone, so find someone else who wants to host a Know Your Rights for impacted communities and check out this resource for How Allies can DEFEND Against ICE!

2) Contact your elected officials on all levels! Tell your elected officials to DEFUND ICE and your local Sheriff Department to NOT COLLABORATE WITH ICE! We must KICK ICE OUT OF OUR COMMUNITIES! If you are in a Sanctuary city demand that your elected officials walk the talk and offer sanctuary, raise legal funds. Our partner campaign LOVE Resists offers resources and tips that can be found here.

3) Be in relationship with local immigrant rights leadership and follow their lead. Side With Love follows the lead of our national immigrant rights partners that are led and informed by impacted communities. Love means being in right relationship and mutually accountable to these communities. We ask that you follow local leadership and demands of your local immigrant rights organization. Many are looking for people who speak languages besides English, particularly Spanish, to help answer hotlines. Others are asking for people to go where raids are happening and witness and document. All need funds to support their communities. There are so many ways that you that you can be of service. Here’s the list to get you connected!

Each day, you get to choose to interrupt this system of hate and despair. We encourage you to use your voice, your privilege and your service to create the World that honors our collective dignity, but most of all our humanity.

Choose Love,
Everette

P.S. If you are in a Sanctuary Congregation make sure you have sanctuary signs on your building such as Sanctuary Congregation: All Are Welcome Here. If yours is not a sanctuary congregation, NOW IS THE TIME TO PROCLAIM THIS IN ACTION AND DEED!

P. P. S. Don’t forget to sign-up for our Skill Up!

Choosing to Side With Love One Action at a Time!

"Oh great force, you remind us that we can choose to face things in this World with love and dignity. You remind us of the sweet spot that we can relax and breathe into as we center our faith, lean in and act courageously. We have the power to create change. We do this even when we are uncertain. We do this to honor all who have come before us, knowing we must create justice now. We face these moments with power and grace." - Let it be so! 

Family, we are bombarded with the ugliness of the news detailing atrocities that our siblings domestically and abroad are facing. If you are like me, you might feel overwhelmed by the requests to act, and numbness and dissociation becomes our default. I question, "How much more must our people endure, when will we be free?" 

This morning, when I woke up I started to think about the power of choice and measured acts of resistance. I remembered I have a choice in this moment, to turn and face this moment with an unrelentless resolve to fight my own numbness (giving thanks for the power of numbness to keep me safe in times when things have not been and numbness was a welcomed emotion) and move to face this urgency of what is right now. 

I am writing to ask you to also face these moments and do these three things, stretch and move from a place of love and resolve. 

Cisgender-Solidarity-Black-Trans-Women.png

Black and Brown Trans* women are being murdered by the hands of the State, systemic oppression and senseless profiling and targeting. 

We must face the urgency of the murders of our Black and Brown trans* and gender-nonconforming siblings. You deserved life and dignity. 

We #SayYourName Johana Medina, Chynal Lindsey, Muhlaysia Booker, Michelle Washington, Dana Martin, Michelle Simone, Paris Cameron, Jazzaline Ware, Claire Legato, Ashanti Carmon, Chanel Scurlock, and to the ones whose names we do not know, you deserve life. We take action by educating ourselves and lifting the words of transgender leaders. 

READ: Op-ed: 50 Years Later, Pride Month Is a Disgrace to Our Ancestors by Ms. Raquel Willis

shutdown-homestead-banner.png

Our country is still putting migrant children in cages. Let’s Shutdown Homestead Child Detention Center and fight to end the practice of detention and deportation of immigrants. The Department of Homeland Security has engaged a for-profit corporation to run the Homestead Child Detention Center in Homestead, Florida. More than 2000 refugee children, aged 13-17, are being warehoused at this facility in prison-like conditions. Yesterday, the Trump administration announced that they are cutting legal aid, English classes and activities, including soccer for youth in detention. The cruelty and the racism of this move is a blatant part of this administration's white supremacist agenda.

We ask you to sign our petition to Shut Down the Homestead Child Detention Center. We will deliver the petition to the Health & Human Services Secretary who has the authority to close this youth prison. Side With Love is joining the Shut Down Homestead Child Detention Center National Week of Action June 9-16. We know we have the power to end this practice of immigrant detention and we will take the power of our people and our resolve to the streets! 

If you’re able, please join me in Homestead, Florida (30 miles from Miami) for the June 16th Action on Father’s Day at Homestead Detention Center! We say #Not1More and Demand Homestead be Shut Down! I will be there, come join me! 

We must face the urgency of political moment, where acts of kindness are being penalized in an effort to make us stop moving from our values of justice and dignity. We ask that you form your own virtual courtwatch of the trial of Scott Warren, a humanitarian volunteer of No More Deaths/No Mas Muertes who faces 20 years in prison for providing water and aid to migrants crossing the Arizona desert. 

We face the urgency with power and grace taking one action at a time. That's how we build movement and ultimately - justice! 

Choose Love!

Everette

Side With Love Campaign Manager

Err on the side of love

With love in her heart for herself, her worth, her dignity, and her path, blessed by her ancestors, and with hope for all those yet to come, a young girl knocked on a door.

I’m with a group of clergy from all over the country, gathered in southern Arizona. We are here to ground and grow our prophetic ministries through a 18 month professional development program of the UU Ministers Association along with Side with Love.

At this moment, we’re at a congregation here in the borderlands witnessing to the stories of three of their leaders. Sarah is telling us about first time she heard a knock on her door from someone seeking her support. Outside was a 13 year old girl, alone, with bloody feet, with love in her heart. Sarah was new to southern Arizona and did not know what to do. She gave the girl water and called border patrol. Sarah told us the feeling of holding someone’s future in her hands. Of being able to shape fate.

She promised herself she would find another way for the next time. She made it her goal to meet the people she would need to know, to learn what she needed to learn so that next time there was a knock in her door she could make a very different set of choices. Choices toward freedom. Toward love. Now when there is a knock at the door of her home or the congregation she is part of, she knows what to do. She knows who can provide medical care and how to gather the clean socks and her husband’s spare pants and how to quickly ready the room near her house that folks can stay there as they need to. She is clear about the risks she takes and the ones she does not. She says she is a working person and there are some risks that are not her role right now. But she knows who does take those risks and how to call them. She told us she knows she has close friends who don’t agree with her, who would be shocked by what she does.

err on side of love - enguyen graphic.jpg

How well did you love?

That’s the question that Sarah believes she’ll be asked when she meets her creator, when her time with this world falls away.

It’s grown dark since our group left Nogales, Arizona and the stars are bright in the sky, competing for attention with the surveillance lights of the wall. Sarah tells us she does not have the answers but knows that if she is going to err, she wants to err on the side of love.

We sing and pray and sing some more. One of our facilitators Rev. Rhetta Morgan has written a song for this evening of witness and storytelling. She leads us in singing “I see you and the healing work you do as the doorway to all hearts. May we be the reflection that you see. Pure love. Rebellious love. Fierce love. Humble love. Pure Love.”

This is the love that those who knock on Sarah’s door bring. Love for family, for self, for dignity. Love for children and elders and land. Love that persists past the violence of the state. Love that is steadfast, honoring of the preciousness of life in the face of great harm. Love that shapes our own fate. Many of us there that night hold the stories of ourselves or our ancestors who knocked on stranger’s doors hoping that the door might be answered by someone with love in their heart.

This Valentine’s Day may we who are fighting for survival connect to the love of our ancestors and ourselves.

May we who answer the knock on the door be love.

May we learn what we need to learn.

May we build the relationships we need to build.

May we witness to each other and the healing work we do.

If we err, may we err on the side of love.

honoring the strategic action of the collective

It is that time of the year when we strengthen our resolve to adhere to our new year commitments and turn inwardly to focus on our contribution to the struggle for justice. Many of us will gather in congregations or at functions and listen to the poignant words from the slain Black Southern Baptist Preacher Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. III who led a movement that has been distilled to the tagline of achieving        “. . .a dream that one day little black boys and girls will be holding hands with little white boys and girls” with little homage to the bravery of the numerous nameless people who bent the arc toward justice by risking their reputations, sacrificing comfortability and determining that justice was worth their lives. 

History has fed us a story that our movements are led and sustained by a charismatic male figure, but when we scratch the surface, we understand that movements are made by people and power is conceded by the strategic action of the collective. 

Ke Atlas/Unsplash

Ke Atlas/Unsplash

As Side with Love embraces our 10th year of harnessing love’s power to stop oppression, we want to pause to say thank you to each of you who have been on this journey with us. We are on the side of the rabble rousers and truth-tellers that history sometimes ignore. We are a part of the legacy of sheroes and heroes, that may never get the spotlight but is the backbone of our liberation. We are inspired by the deeds and creativity of our kindred who movement identity and we speak their names: Ella Baker, Dorothy Height, Dorothy Cotton, Bayard Rustin, Pauli Murray, Clyde Warrior, Yuri Kochiyama, Gloria Anzaldúa, Cesar Chavez and many more. 

On our 10th year of resistance, Side with Love will be reflecting and learning about our impact and discern what this current political, social and economic moment is requiring of us. We will be sharing content from our previous years of 30 Days of Love instead of launching new content. There are many ways we will invite you to #sidewithlove throughout this year as we continue to construct a World where we each can live with dignity.