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From Baltimore to Fort Worth: Stories from Black UU Young Adults

"I can’t fully express how scary it is when a man with a gun tells you ‘you’re fighting and trying to walk away from me’ as you stand still, attempting to comply." -Raziq Brown

I'm Kenny Wiley, UU World Magazine senior editor. This spring, I've spent time with two black Unitarian Universalist young adults--Charina "CJ" Austin, a participant of the Baltimore Uprising, and Raziq Brown in Fort Worth, Texas, to share their stories and explore how UUs are participating in the burgeoning 'Black Lives Matter' nationwide movement.

© Ronald R. Nelson

In late March, police handcuffed Raziq at his workplace, telling him as they did so he was resisting arrest.  I traveled to Texas to spend a few days with him, and what emerged was a reflection on the ways laughter and community help people deal with absurdities in their lives. 

As Baltimore residents grew more frustrated and angry concerning the April death of black man Freddie Gray while in police custody, UUs in the city, including black UU Charina "CJ" Austin, looked for ways to respond. This essay recounts the weekend I spent with Charina attending vigils and rallies that sought justice and systemic change.

Charina Austin talks with a fellow Baltimore resident during a May 2, 2015, protest of police brutality in Baltimore (© Kenny Wiley)

Charina and Raziq are two of many UUs who are engaged with the movement. I hope we can continue to share our stories, and hear from those who, in their own ways, are struggling for change.

In faith and love,

Kenny Wiley

Kenny Wiley is a UU World senior editor and director of faith formation at Prairie Unitarian Universalist Church in Parker, Colorado. His writing has also appeared in the Boston Globe, the Houston Chronicle, and Skyd Magazine.