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Building Sanctuary: A Duty to Each Other

Welcome to our third Thirty Days of Love: Towards Racial Justice message lifting up the inspiring, creative and movement-making work happening throughout the country. This week, we are excited to share the profound and important work of #Not1More
 
Below hear a little more directly from our hosts, Carey McDonald and Elizabeth Nguyen. Then check out this week’s message from B. Loewe, #Not1More and Mijente. We want to hear about how you are observing Thirty Days of Love! Tell us in the comments below or at love@uua.org.

We’re excited to share as part of the 30 Days of Love because our collaborations with the UUs have taught us so much about love in action.  De-escalating through song when armed minutemen came to our joint rally outside of Sheriff Arpaio’s jail in Arizona in 2011. Opening your doors to house and feed us as we drove cross country for the undocubus in 2012. Continuing to show up in yellow shirts over and over, a constant accompaniment that doesn’t go unnoticed. Rehanging #BlackLivesMatter banners after they’ve been desecrated. And in some cases, opening your physical institutions as sanctuary for those hunted by our own government.

[Click to Support Jose Walter, A Father and Reconstruction Worker Facing Deportation]

And this year, there’s as much need as ever for leadership grounded in love. With Right-wing candidates injecting a new level of hate into the public discourse, new dangers are being presented. But also, the heartlessness of the system as it is gets masked over.  

We need leadership that is an antidote to the hate, not that easily succumbs to it.
We need leadership that widens our circle of compassion, not constricts it. In 2016, we need leadership that’s as intersectional as the systems that are designed to destroy. 

In a speech my coworker Marisa Franco gave at Creating Change this past weekend, she said, 

“Sanctuary is a spiritual stance. It recognizes that oppression is trying to fill our lives with fear and blood and daily numbing horror, and sanctuary says: not in here. Not in my home. Not in my bed. Not in my movement. 

Sanctuary makes a ring of fire around our people. Sanctuary grants us a taste of reprieve and protection so we can gather strength to go out there again and fight.”
[watch the video here]

In 2016, We need to embrace the duty of sanctuary, not just as a physical offering of refuge, but as a duty to each other.

We’ve always found our partnership with Standing on the Side of Love easy because as a group that has stood up against mass incarceration, for migrant rights, and for LGBTQ equality and liberation - you have been a group that understands the multi-dimensionality of who people are and, regardless the fight, the desire to live a full humanity. 

Standing on the Side of Love is positioning itself to continue to deepen its work in this direction this year: from its choice of Campaign Director, to its many leaders in congregations who are already leading in Black Lives Matter chapters around the country, to the work that hundreds of UU’s are doing one-on-one to help each other meet this movement moment. This ramping up is not going unnoticed by us either. 

In 2016, it’s time to bring all of this together.  To not allow the stigma of criminalization to determine who we fight for in the field of immigration. To prioritize those who are deemed disposable.  To say that everyone is deserving of love no matter where they’re from, no matter who they love, AND no matter what record they may have.

Jose Walter in New Orleans is one of those people.  Immigration authorities are keeping him in detention and threatening to deport him any day.  Jose Walter came to New Orleans to help rebuild the city after Hurricane Katrina.  Having now lived there almost ten years, he’s also the proud father of two children born and raised there.  And as someone who lives in an overpoliced neighborhood, he encountered immigration agents last year after walking one of his kids to the bus stop for school.

I don’t know about you, but where I grew up we didn’t see immigration agents, or even police for that matter, roaming our streets.  Similarly, I grew up seeing friends and family often blur the line between being fit to drive and having one too many but those decisions often caused arguments amongst us, they were rarely tested at checkpoints or profiled police stops.  But for Jose Walter, such a moment resulted in a DWI. Taking it seriously, he completed 2 years of supervised probation, he went through a driver improvement and substance abuse program and finished the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) victim impact program.  He’s even eligible to have the conviction expunged from his record.

But for our intersectional systems, his (soon to be erased) record along with a past deportation is enough for Immigration authorities to say he’s once again those terribly benign words that erase the state violence that is deportation. He’s a “priority for removal.”  

Of course Immigration has discretion and in fact is supposed to weigh his “assets,” the entirety of the human person, alongside the strikes they have against him.  

We do not expect ICE to ever stand on the side of love. But we do believe in our ability to build love into a powerful enough force to compel them to change their practices.   Sometimes we fight for blanket change - stop the raids, moratorium on deportations, deferred action for all. Sometimes we fight one by one - let Jose Walter tuck his kids in tonight, don’t deport him.

We hope you’ll click and sign for Jose Walter as part of that sanctuary that draws a ring of fire around each other and we look forward to standing on the side of love together in many more ways in the year to come.

With deep love and gratitude,

B. Loewe, #Not1More and Mijente

Header Image from #Not1More