Saturday, January 22, 2011

Building a Bridge

Fourth in a series of posts about the January UUA Board meeting

Saturday morning included discussion with members of Puente (Spanish for bridge), a grassroots community-based groups devoted to justice, non-violence, interdependence and human dignity. We heard about success in boycotting the Diamondbacks and Budweiser, and how Sheriff Joe Arpiao, who had targeted North Phoenix with massive raids prior to the July 27 Day of Resistance, had not tried one since. Puente's organizers have been going door to door, signing up voters. They are filing complaints against the school that has allowed their children to be harassed by authorities looking for undocumented people, setting up English schools so they can defend themselves.

We also heard from 3rd Space, an immigrants rights group which is helping undocumented BLGTQ youth know their rights, and Tupac Enrique Acosta, from Tonatierra who is working to "create and sustain a Cultural Embassy of the Indigenous Peoples that will support local-global and holistic indigenous community development initiatives in education, culture, and economic development in accord with the principles of Community Ecology and Self Determination". All were moving, and I found Enrique Acosta's mix of spiritual presence and empowered defiance particularly eloquent.

One of the common themes from all of our speakers in the past week has been heightened expectations for what Unitarian Universalists will add to this effort. This is not just about a "Justice GA" in 2012 in which several thousand UUs parachute in, do stuff, and then go home. We have started something -- our partners are stretched even thinner than our local congregations and UUA staff are. They -- and our UU partners from traditionally marginalized groups -- are looking to us to fulfill the promises we painted in May and July with hundreds of yellow T-shirts. We have begun to build this bridge -- do we have the will to strengthen and use it?

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