Tag Archive | #blacklivesmatter

Daily Bread #115

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I did two hikes and one Black Lives Matter march last week.  One hike was through the lush beauty of Point Reyes via the Bear Valley Trail.  That one was 8 miles and fairly flat.

101629688_10221555582346471_4069402193419144173_nThe other hike was to the Nike Missile site above San Rafael.  It was only 6.8 miles, but a much harder trail with an elevation gain of 1826 feet.103111136_10221580464968521_8920807446172061903_n

 

The BLM march was much shorter, only a couple of miles, but it was important for me to be there.  I missed my virtual group meeting to attend, but I know they will forgive me.  It made me a little nervous to march agin, given the pandemic, and there were at least 500 people there.  Almost all wore masks, however, something that is no longer true on the trails.  I guess people who care about justice really do care about others.

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With all that activity, I lost a little more weight this week, even though all I need to do now is maintain.

No worries except for racism and homophobia.  The police murdered another young black man, Rayshard Brooks, who was just sleeping off a drink in his car. If he had been white, they would have simply woken him up and told him to call an UBER.  The Trump administration this week eliminated the affordable care act protections from discrimination for trans people.  I have friends that might die as a result.

No justice; no peace.  “We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.”

Be well, stay safe. Work for justice.  #blacklivesmatter #translivesmatter

All lives will matter when the lives of the marginalized are valued.  Until that day comes, all lives clearly don’t matter.

L’Chaim!  Week 7 of maintenance: My Fitbit report from last week shows 97027 steps for 39 miles.   I ate approximately 12047 calories and burned 14500 for a deficit of 2453. My average weight this week is down 1.1 pounds from last week’s average for a total loss of 175.7.

Daily Bread #114

102414782_10221518698464397_2067521355632345088_n I went to a #blacklivesmatter rally and march this week.  We walked from a shopping center down to city hall.  It took an hour and a half and I was not only able to physically do it (I could not walk that far two years ago) I was also able to keep pace with the crowd of mainly young people.  The pandemic was an issue for me and I tried to keep some physical distance, but it was important for me to be there as a witness. I wore a N95 mask (left over from last fire season) and covered it with a bandana, so it was likely pretty safe for me.  Nothing makes me safer than my white skin however.

If my walking, chanting, protesting can help save a life, I’ve got to do it.

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I also wrote this poem:

Desperation

Trapped somewhere between

Despair and desperation

The heart beats weakly

The lungs take uneven breaths

Shall we sink down and let

The ashes of the earth

Cover our bodies

And deaden our souls

Or shall we rise up to face

The blows raining down

Rage lending strength

In a frightening time

Burn it down

Seize what we can

It is not a choice

And may not matter

What we do

But with our last gasps

While they take our lives

With bullets and batons

With choke holds and knees

We must shout out the truth

We are human

We choose desperation

Over despair

I have no more words today and instead am going for another long hike in the woods.  I need to do that to keep my body and spirit strong so I can continue help even a little bit in the struggle for justice.

“We who believe in freedom cannot rest:”

Ella’s Song

Be well, stay safe. Work for justice.  #blacklivesmatter

L’Chaim!  Week 6 of maintenance: My Fitbit report from last week shows 94309 steps for 37 miles.   I ate approximately 12188 calories and burned 14131 for a deficit of 1943. My average weight this week is down  .6 pounds from last week’s average for a total loss of 174.6.

Desperation

Trapped somewhere between

Despair and desperation

The heart beats weakly

The lungs take uneven breaths

Shall we sink down and let

The ashes of the earth

Cover our bodies

And deaden our souls

Or shall we rise up to face

The blows raining down

Rage lending strength

In a frightening time

Burn it down

Seize what we can

It is not a choice

And may not matter

What we do

But with our last gasps

While they take our lives

With bullets and batons

With choke holds and knees

We must shout out the truth

We are human

We choose desperation

Over despair

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daily Bread #113

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My old hiking boots are falling apart, so I ordered a new pair from REI.  It is weird buying shoes through the mail, but that is the world we live in now.  Miracle of miracles though, they fit really well and are very comfortable when I walk around the house in them. I’ll give them a few more days of house hiking before I try them on a trail, but I think they are going to work just fine.

I am less sure of the new gear I will need to navigate the world we now live in.  The pandemic was bad enough, but the never ending murders of unarmed black men (and other people of color) by police officers has again sparked the intense outrage it has always deserved.  We don’t have a leader of the country right now who can provide any message of calm or of healing.  Justice is being denied once again.  The grief and desperation that has erupted has been met with even more police violence.  The way to stop riots and looting is to stop murdering people.  The way to healing is to end racism, particularly within law enforcement.

George Floyd was executed by 4 police officers for being accused of passing a bad $20 bill.  Eric Garner was choked to death for selling cigarettes without a license.  Black people can’t jog, watch birds, or even sleep in their own homes without risking death at the hands of the police.

The white supremacist who killed 9 African Americans in cold blood during a prayer circle at their church was taken alive and the cops who captured him bought him a burger because he was hungry when they took him to the jail.

In Germany it started with the Jews.  I am afraid for all of us but most particularly for my siblings of color.  #blacklivesmatter

I may have to hit the streets again in protest. In the ’60’s I wore steel toed boots to the demonstrations and wore a bandana for the tear gas.  My new hiking boots and COVIS-19 masks may have to do this time around. At least I can move a bit faster now after my weight loss and with my new knee.

Be well, stay safe.

L’Chaim!  Week 5 of maintenance: My Fitbit report from last week shows 98778 steps for 39 miles.   I ate approximately 12152 calories and burned 14832 for a deficit of 2680. My average weight this week is up  .2 pounds from last week’s average for a total loss of 174.

Holy Saturday

Show some respect

Our hope just died

We have laid yet another

Martyr to rest today

Jesus, Martin, Trayvon,

Sandra, Stephon, and JFK

The list goes on.

Families grieve

Which one will save us?

Which one will rise

Like the sun

On Easter morning?

We must call out our own names

Carry on the flame

Hope can defy the grave

Who will roll away the stones?

 

A Legacy of Defying Hate #Sharpswar

Call to Worship (here)

Sermon Notes:

Our Unitarian Universalist tradition draws from many sources.  The six primary ones are listed in the front of the grey hymnal, the page before hymn #1, if you want to glance at them.  We tend to know our principles better than our sources, but the sources are what really ground our faith and uniquely distinguish it from other secular and religious institutions.

Ellen just spoke of one of those sources, the fourth, which is “the Jewish and Christian teachings that call us to respond to God’s love by loving our neighbors as ourselves.” Ellen learned much about love and about justice from her Jewish education. Martha and Waitsill Sharp were inspired to act from that same source. In 1939, most Unitarians identified as Christians, as followers of the prophet Jesus.  Not exclusively so, of course; we almost always have had a liberty clause which guaranteed freedom of thought and belief for both congregations and ministers.

I will talk more about the history of our free faith in a couple of weeks, but today I want to focus on the story of the Sharps.

 

Their story, for us, relates directly to our second source which is:

Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love.

Martha and Waitsill Sharp confronting evil directly as they worked to rescue people.  They left their young children and risked their lives for people they did not know in another part of the world.  Why did they do it?  Why would anyone leave their children?

They were already leading lives of meaning.  They were already making a positive difference in the world.  Martha was a social worker. Waitsill was a minister.  They both were aware of the terrible threat of the Nazis.  Waitsill preached about it, more than once I am sure.

They knew what they believed. They knew that all human life had value and that everyone deserved justice and compassion.  As Unitarians, they also knew that humans had a responsibility to act. They could not stand by and expect God to save anyone.

But I don’t think they would have gone at all except for one very important reason.

They were asked.  They weren’t the first people asked.  17 ministers had already said no, but for the Sharps when someone asks you to do something important, you had to at least think seriously about doing it. They said yes. They traveled to Prague.

So much of our Unitarian Universalist history comes from that time and place.  While in Prague, they met Rev. Norbert Chapek, the creator of our flower communion. They were working with the newly formed service committee, the committee that commissioned Hans Deutsch to create our symbol of the flaming chalice.

The chalice was used for the rescue work that the Sharps and others did. Every time we light our chalice we are honoring that legacy of confronting evil with justice, compassion and the transforming power love.

Like any legacy, we can either ignore it or try to live up to it.  I think most of us try, the best we can, to do what our faith calls us to do in the world.  This congregation’s mission statement, “Live your sacred • Transform through love • Act with courage” is certainly in keeping with that legacy.

The powers and structures of evil are rising today, in our very own country.  How will we answer the call to confront them with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love?

We have virtually the same story that most countries had during WWII.  Jews were denied entry with the excuse that some of them might be Nazi spies.  Today the excuse is that they might be terrorists or criminals.  But people are not skittles, but it can make for some interesting metaphors.

I found the following on facebook written by Eli Bosnick.

I am going to try and skip over some of the profanity.

 

 

 

The Sharps loved their lives, but they knew that other lives were just as important.  They were willing to eat the skittles.

Would you eat the skittles?

Today, in America, the forces of hate, misogyny, and white supremacy have been unleashed.  They have always been here, but they are more blatant because of the rhetoric of the Presidential campaign.  I can’t tell you how to vote, but I can say to vote your conscience and your values.   There is so much at risk in this election for so many vulnerable people.

People of color are being executed almost daily in our streets.  Just a few days ago, Terrence Crutcher’s car broke down.  The police arrived and this unarmed man put his hands up as they directed.  He had not committed a crime.  But he was shot down and killed simply because he was a large black man and so looked like a “bad dude.”

Meanwhile while white college boys spend a couple of months in county jail after they are convicted for brutal rapes.

Ending racism will require much more than putting a slogan on a wall, or even preaching a sermon about it.

 

The Sharps risked all.  Their actions saved lives, but their own children were hurt by their absences.  Their marriage fell apart.

 

What are you willing to risk to save lives?  Black lives because we believe black lives matter?   Immigrant lives, Muslim lives, because those lives matter too.  I’d use the phrase “all lives matter here” if that line had not been corrupted by those who believe that only the lives of people who are exactly like them really matter.

 

The Sharps did not care about the religion or the race of the people they saved.  And back then, Jewish people were considered to be a different race.  We know now that race is simply a social construct, that there is no intrinsic difference between any of us, no matter the color of our skin.  . But even in that time of ignorance, the Sharps knew, because of their Unitarian faith, that all life is sacred, to be treasured and protected.

 

Others had said no, but the Sharps said yes when given the opportunity to make a difference, to do something important with their lives.

 

The poet Mary Oliver asks us what we will do with our “one wild and precious life.”

 

It is the same question Martha Sharp asked her grandson, “What are you going to do with your life that is important?”

 

Will you say yes if someone asks you to do something scary for justice?  It doesn’t have to be life threatening, although these days you can never tell.  Maybe it is just speaking up when you hear hate expressed in a public place – like when you hear someone in the grocery store rudely telling someone else to speak English instead of Spanish.   Anyone ever heard that?  I have, even here in California where Spanish was spoken long before English was.  Maybe it trying to talk to some of your relatives who have been swayed by the politics of fear.

Explain why you care, why you are willing to take a risk for justice and compassion.

Explain that your faith calls you to have a warm heart and an open mind.  Tell the story of the Sharps.  Explain how that story has inspired you.  They were asked and they said yes. Consider yourselves asked.  May it be so.

Letter to the Editor of the Marin Independent Journal

Time to Move Away From Our Racist Past

Dear Editor,

Thank you for your editorial saying that the Dixie school district should change its name. I agree that it is long past time to do so. It is important to acknowledge our real histories, even if they are embarrassing. Only then can we move forward toward healing and reconciliation. The name “Dixie” was not an accident, and it was chosen for a specific and racist purpose. Also, while I don’t know the actual details of the history of racial segregation in the Terra Linda and Marinwood neighborhoods that comprise the Dixie School District, those are exactly the kind of suburbs that routinely had written covenants that prevented anyone who was not “Caucasian” from purchasing a home there. I do know that the Sleepy Hollow subdivision near San Anselmo had such covenants in its deeds well into the late 1970’s. Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism by James W. Loewen documents how widespread this practice was in the north and west after WWII. Racial segregation in housing was not an accident, but was instead quite deliberately planned. How can African American children feel truly welcome in a school district named with a racist intent? If we want to welcome all, then it is time to say we are sorry for our past and to change the name. To do so would be a symbolic and significant gesture toward racial reconciliation. It is time. Black lives do matter.

Cry Me a River

standinglove

It has been a day for tears

For weeping

A day unimagined

For most of my life

Has actually come

And I am reminded

That hope can surprise us

That from hard work and pain

Beauty can arise

And love sometimes can win

So I cry for joy.

And I sob for all who have been lost

Before this day

For the struggle has been long

And I cry for those who will still die

Along the way

For the journey is not done.

There is always a backlash

As we know all too well

Black churches are still burning

Even as a song of grace

Flows up from the grief

For those lost in Charleston

Cry me a river

Spirit of life

Hold us and heal us

Make our hearts larger

As joy and pain overflow.

Help us to rise

And stand once again

And always

On the side of love.