Weekly Message from T. J.

What Are We Doing?

A week now since the killing of George Floyd, a week now since direct actions and uprisings in communities far and wide, a week now since the militarization of cities and the policing of bodies, we are all asking, “What are we doing?” Blessedly, this question in our faith community is more a question that means, “Let’s get out there and make a change.” I fear many groups are starting from a meaning of this question that fails to comprehend what those exercising their rights to protest are actually protesting: state sanctioned killings of black people with malice and impunity.

But still others are really asking this question with the meaning, “What is our actual faith community going to do about this?” And that’s a great question. The answers are multidimensional, as are all human hearts and minds. Some of us will feel a personal call to take to the streets in support of movements. Others may wonder what from their home they can do, bracing as many still are from the potential health implications of joining large groups. And others might still be feeling like the impact of what is taking place has not even landed yet.

The Unitarian Universalist Association has sent out a multi-pronged kit with helpful links for congregations to help conversations about responses of solidarity and support. You can read it here: “Stop Calling the Police and Start Eradicating Anti-Blackness.” Please read this whole document and make time to review some of the important links. This will take roughy a half hour and will provide a mindset for actions that will follow, and I assure you action will follow. I know what some of you are thinking: this is not a problem in Hawai’i. It is a problem in Hawai’i. Yes, there are other problems, too. But discounting this grievous wrong because of other problems…is part of the problem.

Please understand this most of all: many movements for black liberation and to eradicate anti-blackness have been led by black persons for a very long time, and the discovery of those movements by white people should inspire nothing but humility for not joining or supporting sooner. Saying things like “I had no idea you were even here.” or “This came along just at the right time.” discounts the sometimes decades of sacrifice these leaders have given. Consider entering this time and any actions we take with with the questions, “How can I be helpful here?” and “Will I do what is asked of me as an accomplice in this work?”

And now, please watch last night’s #wecantbreathe Prayer Vigil. A link is below (it starts around 9:30). This is a powerful testament to the needs of those we love. We should each watch the whole vigil with the open mind we strive to achieve together as a community. After you are done, please review Susan Leslie’s presentation at 1:16:30 and the challenges to congregations and to individuals she poses for what must transform in us and in our communities, so that hope for transformation might one day be realized.

And in the coming days, we will all speak together about what we are doing.

In love and transformation,
Rev. T. J.

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