Black Lives Matter Ally Group
“The racist violence against the Black community by police needs to end. It will not end unless people of all races, especially white people, demand it. Enough.” — Former UUA President Rev. Peter Morales
CVUUS Black Lives Matter (BLM) Ally Group organized last fall and is led by Piper Harrell and Judith Lashof. They’re focused on understanding and responding to the African American experience of racism, on white privilege and on institutional racism in coordination with other local justice groups such as Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ). To get directly involved in action, see Piper or visit BLM online (cvuus.org/justice/black-lives-matter-ally-group or on Facebook). BLM Ally Group met over the summer to discuss The New Jim Crow. They encourage you to:
1) Read The Sugarcoated Language of White Fragility (http://huffpost.com/us/entry/10909350) and Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, the UUA Common Read in 2015-2016. From the New York Times Book Review: “Just Mercy will make you upset and it will make you hopeful.”
2) Watch 13th documentary (online) about racism in the criminal justice system since the passage of the 13th Amendment to Constitution outlawing slavery at the end of the Civil War. BLM Ally Group arranged a screening and discussion of this in May. The film by director Ava DuVernay opens with the facts that today the US has 5% of the world’s population but 25% of the people in the world who are incarcerated. It demonstrates that slavery has been perpetuated in practices since the end of the American Civil War through such actions as criminalizing behavior and enabling police to arrest poor freedmen and force them to work for the state under convict leasing; suppression of African Americans by disenfranchisement, lynchings and Jim Crow; conservative Republicans declaring a war on drugs that weighed more heavily on minority communities and, by the late 20th century, mass incarceration of people of color in the United States. It examines the prison-industrial complex and the emerging detention-industrial complex, demonstrating how much money is being made by corporations from such incarceration.
3) See I Am Not Your Negro (written by James Baldwin). BLM Ally Group and SURJ arranged sold out showings at Middlebury’s Marquis Theater on Wed. Mar 1 and a re-screening on April 19.
4) Read The New Jim Crow . A stunning account of the rebirth of a caste-like system in the United States, one that has resulted in millions of African Americans locked behind bars and then relegated to a permanent second-class status—denied the very rights supposedly won in the Civil Rights Movement. Since its publication in 2010, the book has appeared on the New York Times bestseller list for more than a year; been dubbed the “secular bible of a new social movement” by numerous commentators, including Cornel West; and has led to consciousness-raising efforts in universities, churches, community centers, re-entry centers, and prisons nationwide. The New Jim Crow tells a truth our nation has been reluctant to face.
5) Read The Third Reconstruction (on the recommended reading list for 2017 UUA General Assembly).
6) Read about bias in sentencing http://projects.heraldtribune.com/bias/sentencing
Congregational Conversation on BLM
On Sunday August 21 after the Sunday service, we had the monthly CVUUS Congregational Conversation to talk about Black Lives Matter and the formation of our Ally Group. We discussed upcoming actions and plans for the fall. For useful background, check out “Black Lives Matter vs. All Lives Matter” (www.uua.org/worship/words/reading/change-black-to-all) and Rev. Barnaby’s “Lives That Matter” sermon ( www.cvuus.org/services/january-7-2016-lives-that-matter).
No Confederate Flag Sales at Field Days
After we met with the board of Addison County Fair, and Field Days they decided to ban sales of items with Confederate flags at Field Days. We are grateful for their decision!