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Social Justice, Black Lives Matter

Faith in the Streets – Black Lives Matter

Rev. Jennifer Nordstrom, First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee

Right now, we are witnessing our country shift towards understanding and supporting Black lives. This is a history-changing moment, and our faith calls us to support it. Unitarian Universalism’s commitment to the inherent worth and dignity of every human being means that we support equity, justice, and the wholeness and health of Black people.

At a Black LGBTQ-led protest for Black Lives Matter on June 7, one of the speakers reminded the crowd that Milwaukee’s Fair Housing March in 1967 lasted for 200 days, and as of that Sunday, we were on Day 10 of protests of the movement for Black Lives. Today, we are on Day 21. Some of you remember Milwaukee’s Fair Housing March, and many of you are wondering what to do in this moment to support the contemporary movement for racial justice.

Different people have different capacities to support this movement at this moment. Each of us needs to do our own risk assessment based on factors varying from age to health status to economic needs to racial identity to caretaker obligations. Not everyone can march, but everyone can help. Here are a few different kinds of opportunities to support the Movement for Black Lives and protestors in Milwaukee:

Call your legislators (City Council and Mayor) to support the Milwaukee African American Roundtable’s Demands for Change, starting with the first demand: Divest $75 million from the Milwaukee Police Department, and invest it in healthy communities, including public health approaches to violence prevention and cooperative housing.

Support the protestors materially:

  • Bring water, snacks, and masks to protestors. You can drop off supplies at our partner church Zao—MKE by signing up: Click Here.
  • Take a shift staffing the drop-off site for materials, which is both easy and very needed. You will take inventory, give out materials, and probably have time to read a book. Zao folks are being diligent about social distancing, everyone wearing masks, and clearning. Sign up to take a shift: Click Here.

Donate to the bail fund for Milwaukee protestors, the Milwaukee Freedom Fund:

Donate to Milwaukee’s Leaders Igniting Transformation, a youth-of-color led organization that has been working to remove police from Milwaukee Public Schools: Click Here.

Support Black-owned businesses in Milwaukee. Here is a list from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Click Here.

Educate yourself on the system of mass incarceration, the role of the police within it, and how to be an Anti-Racist. Here are a few books in those areas: The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Era of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander (an academic read) or Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson (a narrative read) or How to be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi.

Initiate conversations about the role race plays in your life and your community:

  • Participate in next year’s Beloved Conversations at First Church. Beloved Conversations is a curriculum designed to engage Unitarian Universalists in deep, relational conversations about the role race has played in their own lives and their communities.
  • Have a conversation with the children in your life about race and racism. Here are some resources to support those conversations: 31 Books to support conversations with children on race, racism and resistance: Click Here; 21 Anti-Racism Videos To Share With Kids: Click Here.
  • Engage in conversation with your family members and neighbors.

Attend a protest. Here is an article from Rev. Elizabeth Nguyen for discerning how to assess “whether or not an action is strategic or grounded in collective liberation, accountable partnership and the leadership of those most impacted”: Click Here.

And remember to Breathe. Pray. Rest. Play. Contribute to someone else’s ability to pause, breathe, rest, and play. Our faith calls us to support this movement, in the way we can at this moment, as well as commit ourselves to the long-term struggle to transform White Supremacy into liberation for all people. Long haul work must be sustainable, which means we all need to nourish our spirits, and make space for other people to nourish theirs, as we go. We hope you’ll join us in this journey of love and justice.

With love for you and this world,

Rev. Jennifer Nordstrom and the Anti-Racism Team of the First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee

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