Bringing Justice General Assembly to Hawaii
This Justice General Assembly was by far the most energizing (since I began attending in 2008 anyway). As an Activist Minister, it warmed my heart to witness thousands of UUs from all over the country (and some from Canada and elsewhere) put their faith into action by speaking out against the atrocities going on in Tent City. The songs we used were also powerful, especially those by Emma’s Revolution. Kudos to the organizers who put their blood, sweat and tears into making this a success!
Carla Allison, the Board President of the First Unitarian Church of Honolulu, and I knew we didn’t want to let much time go by before we did something about our experience in Phoenix, so we planned a forum for Sunday, July 8, 2012 after both our services. We called it “Wake Up to Justice!” because we wanted to mobilize our congregation to action. It wasn’t just another debrief–40 people attended. This was indeed an opportunity for members of our congregation to get plugged in to what our movement is doing, making us realize that these justice issues are interconnected. What happens in Arizona does not stay in Arizona, but has an impact in Hawaii as well.
We began the forum by educating our Beloved Community on the harms that have been inflicted on indigenous peoples through the Doctrine of Discovery by using the language used in the General Assembly resolution. We were elated when Rev. Michael Tino helped us introduce the words “indigenous peoples of the Hawaiian Kingdom,” acknowledging that those living in Hawai’i are a part of the Unitarian Universalist Association and that our local partners here are suffering as well. Kumu Glen Kila of the Kanenuiakea community blessed Carla and I with an oli (chant) and a lei. We made a commitment to continue the conversation and to be in relationship with each other, asking the question, “How can we support you?”
We then showed videos and photos from our Tent City witness, which were very moving. Carla gave a moving testimony of her experiences at the workshop and even on the plane ride home reading The Death of Josseline. Many in the congregation became interested in reading this book and we ended the forum with suggestions on how we can move forward. We handed out concrete suggestions such as calling the Attorney General’s office to ask them to hold Sheriff Arpaio accountable. Someone else suggested we hold a public witness event here in Hawaii and ask our partners to join us. We said we would educate our children on Hawaiian spirituality issues and ask Kumu Glen to come back and worship with us again. The ideas flowed, and our energies were oriented toward justice. We hope more people from our congregation can come next year to experience what we’ve experienced. Mahalo for leading us to a greater awareness of the injustices that are going on. The road to justice continues.