For the third summer in a row, we see a nation heating up in ways that has nothing to do with the weather. In light of this, I have been engaged in some reflection on some of the lives caught in these tensions.
So, for summer reading this summer, I invite us all into this contemplation. To understand the roots of the Black Lives Matter movement which came out of Oakland and was begun by labor activist Alicia Garza. Summer 2016 was the summer before the election and it was also the summer when a spate of police shootings of black men caused Alicia Garza to ask in a Facebook post: “I continue to be surprised at how little black lives matter, and I will continue that. Stop giving up on black life.” She ended by saying, “Black people, I love you. I love us. Our lives matter.” New Yorker writer Jelani Cobb writes here about the origins of the movement: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/03/14/where-is-black-lives-matter-headed
Last summer we had tension around immigration and the attempts to ban the travel of Muslim-Americans in and out of our nation. Airports became scenes of activism. At the end of the summer, we had the terrifying spectacle of white supremacists demonstrating openly in Charlottesville, VA. This summer we have learned about the incarceration of children and their separation from their parents and the US Supreme Court has upheld the “Muslim Ban”. To reflect on the damage that is done when people are “othered”. To help understand the complexity of the Muslim experience in America, look at Girl in the Tangerine Scarf by Mohja Kahf or the graphic novel Persepolis which is also a movie. You can also look at any of the literature on the Japanese-American internment and its long-term impact, many books on which are available from the libraries. And Jeanne Theoharis’s A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History is worthwhile.
Many are now afraid that the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer people are also under attack. To remember the trauma of living closeted, reread James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room or Kate Bornstein’s Gender Outlaw. You might also look on the website for our own Beacon Press (www.beacon.org) for more about the issues of our times and on Skinner House which offers meditation manuals (https://www.uua.org/publications/skinnerhouse/inspirit) to restore our spirits in these deeply disturbing times.
Let’s keep learning and paying attention.
In faith, Leslie
Rev. Leslie Takahashi serves as the Lead Minister of the Mt. Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church. She publishes a weekly blog as well which can be found at https://www.mduuc.org/news/leslie-blog/