Monday, October 8, 2012

It's October -- do you know where your yellow shirt is?

There is poetic justice that Standing on the Side of Love shirts look best on people with darker skin.  I look anemic in mine, and wear it anyway.  Last Saturday once again gave me the reason why.

We are at the monthly interfaith immigration vigil at the West County Detention Center, where an estimated 150 immigrants are housed on any given day for immigration violations.  The opening prayer by a group of Aztec dancers is moving, powerful, and their drums beat into my soul.  About 15 of us are wearing yellow "Standing on the Side of Love" shirts, which is noticed by our second speaker, who thanks the people in "las camisas" (the shirts) for being there.

She is an organizer for domestic workers' rights, and as part of this had taken an "undocubus" from Arizona to North Carolina, stopping along the way to publicize what is happening in our immigration system.  At each stop, she says, they were welcomed into the hearts and homes of people wearing these yellow shirts. 

This is the third time I have heard explicitly about the power of the yellow shirts from someone outside of Unitarian Universalism.  I observed it directly at General Assembly this summer.  Our Arizona interfaith partners talked about how discouraged they were after the passage of SB 1070, and then how the people in the yellow shirts "came with us, walked with us, went to jail with us", inspiring them to go on.  The yellow shirts provided a kind of continuity, a visible fulfillment of a promise that we would be there with them.

It does something powerful for the wearer, too.  When I put on that yellow shirt, I join a river of yellow shirts that stretches from California to Maine, from Arizona to Florida. 

A dozen make a demonstration.
A hundred fill a hall.
A thousand have solidarity and your own newsletter;
ten thousand, power and your own paper;

How much more difference do we make when we are not just individuals showing up for a rally, but rather part of a larger movement that is showing up everywhere?  There were members of other UU congregations at that rally on Saturday that I had never met -- and I knew them instantly.  

If you have a SSL shirt, wear it.  If you don't, get one.  And add your measure to this river of gold that is moving towards justice.  

it starts when you say We
and know who you mean, and each
day you mean one more.

Lines quoted from "The Low Road" by Marge Pearcy  


1 comment:

Annette Marquis said...

Linda, I couldn't agree with you more about our yellow shirts. They are recognized by so many people from our partner organization, who know our yellow shirts. Some of us were stopped on the street in Phoenix by people because they knew the "yellow shirts" would help them. Become part of the "we" that speaks out for justice.