Social Justice News

NEWS AND RECENT EVENTS – HAVE YOU SEEN US IN ACTION?

Upcoming Events:

Syrian Refugee Chronicles Her Story Through Evocative Art

An exhibition of drawings by Adeebah Alnemar, self-described artist, woman, and mother, will be on display at:

Unitarian Universalist Society: East Meeting Room, 153 Vernon Street West, Manchester, CT 

Oct 5th to Nov 4th, 2018 

A Muslim refugee from Homs, Syria, Adeebah’s art evocatively depicts the torrent of emotions she experienced before fleeing Syria, during the family’s four exiled years in Jordan, their ultimate arrival in the US on election night November 2016, and adjustment to this foreign land that is now ‘home’.

Artist’s Reception, Talk Back, and Celebration
Sunday, October 28, 6:00 – 8 PM, in the Unitarian Universalist Society: East Meeting Room. 

The focus will be two-fold: the symbolism in Adeebah’s art; and a celebration of author Jake Halpern, and graphic artist Michael Sloan, awarded Pulitzer Prizes for the New York Times emotionally powerful series told in graphic narrative form, Welcome to the New World. The work chronicled a Syrian family’s arrival and struggle in the US, and is currently being developed into a full-length book.

Food at the reception will showcase Adeebah’s Middle Eastern Cuisine, a catering business begun by this talented, entrepreneurial woman.

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Join the UUS:E Social Jutice / Anti-Oppression Committee for a viewing and discussion of Brittany Packnett’s Ware Lecture at the 2018 Unitarian Universalist General Assembly in Kansas City, MO.

Tuesday, October 30th, 7:00 PM at UUS:E

Brittany Packnett is an unapologetic educator, organizer, writer, and speaker. Known as @MsPackyetti on social media, Brittany has become a sought-after voice in the work of social change and empowerment. A former teacher, policy expert, and non- profit executive director, Brittany has committed her life and career to justice. She currently plays many roles, all focused on freedom. Brittany serves as Teach For America’s Vice President of National Community Alliances, where she leads partnerships and civil rights work with communities of color. Beyond Teach For America, Brittany was a Ferguson protestor and continues in activism as, among other things, co-founder of Campaign Zero, a policy platform to end police violence. She is a contributor to the Crooked Media network, most notably contributing to the weekly news roundup on Pod Save The People, a Video Columnist for Mic News, and writes for many publications. Recently, Brittany launched Love + Power, a hub created to inspire, empower, and outfit everyday people to seismically shift society. Brittany was an appointed member of the Ferguson Commission and President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. Today, she continues to advocate for urgent systemic change at critical decision making tables and through national and international media.

The Ware Lecture has been in existence since 1920. The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) President, in consultation with the General Assembly Planning Committee, invites a distinguished guest each year to address the General Assembly as the Ware Lecturer.

 News:

The Poor People’s Campaign!!!

Members of the Unitarian Universalist Society: East, as well as Unitarian Universalists across Connecticut and across the United States, are participating in the Poor People’s Campaign (PPC). For more information about the Poor People’s Campaign at a national level, click here.  For more information about the CT Poor People’s Campaign, Moral Monday CT has information on its website. Or check out the CT Poor People’s Campaign on Facebook.

All PPC actions take place on Mondays at 3:00 PM outside of the Legislative Office Building in Hartford. Note that there will be no Week Four (June 4th) action in Hartford.

Weekly themes:
Week One (May 13-19) – SOMEBODY’S HURTING OUR PEOPLE: Children, Women, LGBTQIA Community, and People with Disabilities in Poverty

Week Two (May 20-26) – LINKING SYSTEMIC RACISM AND POVERTY: Voting Rights, Immigration, Xenophobia, Islamophobia, and the Mistreatment of Indigenous Communities

Week Three (May 27-June 2) – THE WAR ECONOMY: Militarism and the Proliferation of Gun Violence

Week Four (June 3-9) – THE RIGHT TO HEALTH AND A HEALTHY PLANET: Ecological Devastation and Health Care (Note that there will be no Week Four (June 4th) action in Hartford.)

Week Five (June 10-16) – EVERYBODY’S GOT THE RIGHT TO LIVE: Education, Living Wage Jobs, Income, Housing

Week Six (June 17-22) – A NEW AND UNSETTLING FORCE: Confronting the Distorted Moral Narrative

CT Poor People’s Campaign is being supported by a number of committed partner organizations to include:

Amistad United Church of Christ, Moral Monday CT, Hartford Catholic Worker, The Unitarian Universalist Society:East, The Universalist Church of West Hartford, The DUE Justice Coalition, CT Fight for $15, Mt. Aery Baptist Church-Bridgeport, AFT-Connecticut,  SEIU 1199 – CT, ACLU-CT, CT Chapter – Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, NARAL Pro-Choice CT, CT-CORE Organize Now, CT Citizen Action Group, The Women’s March – CT, NOW-CT,  CT Bail Fund, New London Chapter-NAACP, Central Christian Church of Danbury, New Haven People’s Center, Answer CT, Women of Justice-Northeast Region, War Resisters-CT, 32BJ SEIU-CT and a host of individual justice seeking freedom fighters!

This is our calling!

Unitarian Universalist Society: East, 153 West Vernon Street, Manchester, CT uuseoffice@uuse.org


UUS:E Proudly Declares itself to be a Sanctuary Congregation

At the Unitarian Universalist Society: East’s (UUS:E) 2018 annual meeting on May 20th, the congregation declared itself to be a Sanctuary Congregation and stated its willingness to offer physical sanctuary to immigrant(s) seeking to pursue their legal options in response to a deportation order. The text to UUS:E’s Sanctuary Congregation Resolution is here

The Sanctuary Congregation Team is currently seeking donations of items to furnish our sanctuary room at UUS:E.       

  • Like new Sleeper Sofa or sleeper Futon
  • Bed frame/ mattress & box spring (new or like new), size = double
  • Like new, or new sheets & blankets
  • Newpillows
  • Towels (bath + hand towel), washcloth (like new or new)
  • Table or small desk with chair
  • Dresser
  • Clothing rack (to hang items with hangers)
  • Lamps
  • Night stand
  • Like new throw rugs, large area rug.
  • Radio
  • Night light and flashlight
  • Lockable cabinet of some kind for personal items (including medications)
  • Trash can/ waste basket
  • Laundry basket
  • Comfortable chair
  • Bathroom/shower caddy for carrying supplies to/from bathroom
  • Set of pots/pans for cooking
  • Dishes, silverware, glasses, coffee cups, etc.  

If you have any of these things that you would like to donate, please contact Susan Randolph  (Susan.M.Randolph@gmail.com).  Please, do not bring items to UUS:E until you have been contacted.

Monetary donations are also appreciated. Checks may be sent to UUS:E with the word SANCTUARY in the memo line.

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Read Rev. Josh’s comments at the Connecticut Council for Interreligious Understanding’s “Interreligious Call to Love They Neighbor and Act for All Americans,” at the Cathedral of St. Jospeh, Hartford, CT, January 29, 2017. No Room for Hate

Black Lives Matter and All Lives Matter

Update from the Social Justice/Anti-Oppression Committee

Of course, all lives matter – our first principle (the inherent worth and dignity of every person) is clear about that. And we are upset by any oppression we hear about – oppression due to class, gender, disability, age, and any of the many other oppressions our current society is capable of.

In our country right now there is much evidence that, although we truly do believe that all lives matter, much of the behavior of those in power implies that, consciously or unconsciously, there is an underlying belief that black lives matter a good deal less than white lives.

We’ve been hearing recently about the black neighborhoods in Flint, Michigan being given lead-contaminated water with no one so far being held accountable, as well as about the barrage of statistics showing major racial discrepancies in health, jobs and income, housing, school achievement, and imprisonment. Currently, we are concerned about the high-profile police killings of young black men with almost none of the police being held accountable.

The goal of Black Lives Matter is to raise awareness of these discrepancies and injustices in order to bring an end to them. This will involve reaching a tipping point where more and more people are demanding change. This is the method used to bring about previous successes in other areas. While we continue to care about all lives, right now our attention is focused on the injustices visited on Black Lives. The Black Lives Matter movement is asking that we purposefully move toward the specific goal of ending injustice toward Black Lives.

All Lives Matter. This is true, but not all lives under assault the way black people lives are under assault the way black lives are. Not all lives are facing the devastating oppression that black people are facing every day. Black Lives Matter is not saying that black lives are somehow more important than other lives, but it certainly is saying that black lives need to be treated a whole lot more fairly than is happening in our country right now. When someone is drowning, we don’t begrudge the attention given—we recognize that, right now, that needs to be our focus—however much we dearly love the people standing safely on the shore.

Statement on Black Lives Matter from the UUS:E Social Justice/Anti-Oppression Committee

In the face of continued state-sponsored and individually perpetrated violence and hatred targeting people of color, America has a re-surgent racial justice movement known as Black Lives Matter.  Alicia Garza, a community organizer who founded the Black Lives Matter movement calls the name/hashtag/“slogan” an affirmation of Black folks’ humanity and resilience in the face of deadly oppression… as “Black people get free, everybody gets free.”

“We’ve seen a continuation of the narrative that demanding that your life has value somehow takes value from someone else,” Alicia Garza said. “At the most compassionate, it’s a denial of the fact that people are not treated equally in our country. At its most nefarious, it’s a deliberate distraction, a distortion of reality.”

The slogan #AllLivesMatter is often offered in response to #BlackLivesMatter—sometimes out of anger, sometimes out of a desire for peace—but never from a place of full understanding.  #AllLivesMatter is not a liberation movement. It is certainly a true statement akin to the the first Unitarian Universalist principle, “the inherent worth and dignity of every person” or, as we say often with the children, “each person is important.” All lives do matter. But all lives aren’t under assault. All lives don’t have to deal with racism the way Black lives do. When we insert “#AllLivesMatter” into the struggle against racism, it erases the unique experience of Black people, and it erases White society’s role in perpetuating racism. Garza says, “Progressive movements in the United States have made some unfortunate errors when they push for unity at the expense of really understanding the concrete differences in context, experience and oppression.”

 As a predominantly White, liberal, suburban congregation, the SJAO committee’s hope and prayer is that we understand and support:

  • that far too many Black people and other People of Color feel unheard, disrespected, forgotten, marginalized, penalized, demonized by generations of social, political and economic systems and refuse to live that way anymore; and
  • that we must actively support, participate in, and take risks with our partners in the Black Lives Matter movement, always keep in mind Martin Luther King’s first principle that nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people.

The assertion that black lives simply have value has been perceived by many in the mainstream and many “allies” as attacking and devaluing the life of other human beings.  If we actually believed that all lives matter, the act of asserting that oppressed persons have value could be celebrated as an act of devotion, patriotism, love… a prayer, a BLESSING, a SONG!

The liturgy goes a little something like this:

Leader:  May we learn. May we participate. May we be courageous. May we take risks.   Let us say clearly, proudly and courageously…

All:  Black Lives Matter!

Leader: “Black Lives Matter”

Let the people say: “Amen.”

Now we propose to witness in a new way.  We propose to place a Black Lives Matter  banner on UUS:E grounds, outside of the church on the road, by our mailbox. 

For further reading, see:

Alicia Garza’s “A Herstory of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement.”

Read the 2015 Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly’s statement on Black Lives Matter.

Read about a Black Lives Matter installation at the Unitarian Universalist Association headquarters.

Read about Black Lives Matter signs being vandalized.

See Rev. Josh’s 2015 sermon #BlackLivesMatter.

Se Rev. Josh’s 2016 sermon, “Perhaps Struggle is All We Have.”

 Get involved!

All are welcome to attend the planning meetings of the Social Justice/Anti-Oppression Committee (SJAO) which take place on the first Tuesday of every month at 7pm in Rev. Josh’s office.  Contact our office at 860-646-5151 or uuseoffice@uuse.org

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Goals of the UUS:E Social Justice Committee:

One of our primary Social Justice Committee goals is to achieve a better balance between our advocacy and service work within the Greater Hartford community and our connective work within our own Unitarian Universalist Society: East community. We are accordingly working harder to listen and to respond to stories of our own members and friends. As a starting point, representative members of our Rainbow Alliance and Social Justice committees have been meeting together to determine how Unitarian Universalist Society: East can be an “additionally welcoming” place for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) members and friends. Rainbow Alliance and Social Justice will accordingly cosponsor an appropriate range of educational, legislative advocacy and relationship oriented activities. Some suggestions have been forums,movie nights and direct discussion opportunities (e.g., getting together in members’ homes). During our last meeting, we also discussed”radical communication” as a possible metaphor (e.g., more openly sharing our individual journeys and our resulting hopes and dreams).

Our Mission:

“When people come together to work on social justice projects, they break the bonds of individualism and isolation that fragment communities. They make sacred space for one another. Together they explore the issues that tear at their hearts, and cause them concern for the future. The issue and the passion can only come from them. And, together, they partner with others to understand their place in the community, the gifts they bring to the community, and the hopes and dreams of others. Too many people think that spirituality and social justice are at opposite ends of the continuum, even polarized from one another. In truth, neither can be fulfilled without the other.” Rev. Jeanne Lloyd

The Social Justice Committee (SJC) fosters and focuses the passion for social justice among the members and friends of Unitarian Universalist Society: East by undertaking certain activities itself, and by providing an umbrella forum for the initiation, coordination and lifting up of social justice activities in other groups at Unitarian Universalist Society: East. In doing so, we cover the full spectrum of social justice work, including service (S), education (E), witness (W), advocacy (A), community organizing (CO) and transformation (T).

Activities of the Social Justice Committee