“White Supremacist in Portland kills two men who tried to stop his racist rants”
“LeBron James’ house spray-painted with a racial slur …”
“White House invites literally anyone to refuse to cover birth control”
“Noose found inside Smithsonian’s African-American History Museum”
“World leaders reaffirm commitment to fighting climate change”
“ICE denied a request to stop an undocumented woman in Fairfax County from being deported”
These are just some of the headlines from this past week.
UU congregations all over the country are discussing ways to demonstrate UU values publicly in support of those who are being threatened and marginalized in today’s political and social climate and how we can continue to be as welcoming as possible to those who may have differing political views. It is a complex and challenging proposition. At UUCF, the decision has been made that one way to demonstrate our values of the worth and dignity of every person; justice, equity and compassion in human relations; and especially the goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all, is to hang a banner for all to see on Hunter Mill Road. The following words appear on the banner:
In this congregation,
Love is Love
Black Lives Matter
Climate Change is Real
No Human Being is Illegal
Women’s Rights are Human Rights
All Genders Are Whole, Holy and Good
The Racial Justice Steering Committee and UUCF staff are working together to plan an event to hang the banner. There have been a variety of examples of how other UU congregations have hung their banners. Some have done it without any public notice; others have had events to note the moment. In noting the experiences of various congregations, when a banner is hung without any notice or nod to the folks who are being marginalized in the community, it can leave a gap in understanding or context. The idea behind the ceremony is to de-emphasize our congregation and center the discussion around the need for supporting those who are marginalized. There are continuing struggles with issues of policing and traditionally marginalized communities. A mother of two young children in Fairfax County is facing deportation under the new administration’s enforcement of immigration policies. Hate speech and attacks on women’s health organizations have increased. And, I can’t even begin to note the attacks on the Environmental Protection Agency and climate science.
Of course we can just go ahead and hang the banner. But if there is a way to use this act as an opportunity to decentralize ourselves and bring to the center voices from the margins, that will be what we try to do. We also plan to invite elected officials, members of law enforcement and others from the community with the hope that we can both express our values publicly and help facilitate the building of understanding and bridges. This is no easy task at this time in our country. We will continue to do what we can to answer the call of love and be builders of conversations while strongly demonstrating our long-held values of equality, compassion and justice for all.