This Week: Add the Words Happenings

We are coming up on the end of the Idaho Legislature’s session, and the Legislature has yet to take action on the Add the Words campaign and print a bill and hold a hearing on Adding the Words to the Idaho Human Rights Act that would make it illegal to discriminate against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Idahoans in employment and housing.

There have been many protests at the Idaho Capitol, and many protesters have been arrested for blocking rooms and doorways in the Capitol. This week, Idaho Falls people are organizing their own vigils and rallies in support of the Capitol protesters, for those who cannot be in Boise. Details on the Monday Vigil and Wednesday Rally follow:

Monday, March 10:
Add the Words Vigil, 7:30 pm
Idaho Falls Greenbelt by the War Memorial (on Memorial Drive)
Candlelight vigil

Wednesday, March 12:
Add the Words Rally, 12 noon
Broadway Bridge Sidewalk (south side of bridge, east end)
Face west and cover your mouth in silence at 12:04 pm

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Comments Due for UUA Reproductive Justice CSAI

The UUA comment period for the Reproductive Justice Congregational Study Action/Issue closes March 3rd.

A Congregational Study Action/Issue (CSAI) is an issue chosen by the delegates to the UUA General Assembly (GA) for UU congregations to study, ponder, think about, and act on. The current CSAI on Reproductive Justice was chosen at the 2012 GA. The comments that are currently being taken will inform workshops to be presented at the 2014 GA. Later, in November, a draft Statement of Conscience will be prepared for congregations to vote on in 2015 and to be presented at the 2015 GA. If approved, the Statement of Conscience will be acted on by UU congregations in 2015 and 2016. A new CSAI will be chosen for consideration at this year’s GA to be the possible Statement of Conscience for 2016.

The Reproductive Justice Issue (from the UUA website)

Reproductive rights and health services are seriously under attack nationally. Reproductive Justice represents a broader analysis of racial, economic, cultural, and structural constraints on women’s power. The right to have children, to not have children, and to parent children in safe and healthy environments is a human right.

Follow the link above to read the entire CSAI. If you have thoughts on the CSAI, leave them in the comments or contact me.

Difficult Discussion: The Failure of School Integration in America

Last week, I came across an article on Slate about the failure of American schools to integrate in the 60 years since Brown v. Board of Education. This is a hard conversation to have, but the author of the Slate article argues that busing was not the answer to segregated schools, and integration was doomed from the beginning since it depended on busing. He also argues that the black middle class was (almost) just as against busing as the white middle class — they wanted the end of segregation to be high-quality education for their children, like white middle-class children were getting, not busing to schools with average education and average students who just happened to be white.

My quick summary is definitely not doing justice to the original, thoughtful essay, and you should definitely read the whole thing.

Please share in the comments your experience of the American school system, and its segregation, integration, or something else entirely as you have experienced it.

New Liberal Vocabulary

If you read social justice works from the 1960s or 70s (or if you were around then) you’ll notice that the vocabulary of social justice has changed in the intervening decades. For example, privilege (with an emphasis on the benefits individuals derive from their position in the social hierarchy) is now used, instead of oppression (with an emphasis on the disadvantages accruing to large groups of people due to the system).

In general, the new vocabulary words emphasize the individual, as opposed to the old vocabulary emphasizing the collective and the group.

I highly recommend reading the entire article, The Rise of the Post-New Left Political Vocabulary on The Public Autonomy Project, a project of Stephen D’Arcy, a philosophy professor at Huron University College in London, Ontario.

The thing I have noticed is that both vocabularies stem from the particular way of thinking that goes along with a generation and the events that affect that generation. The old vocabulary comes from the Baby Boom generation, while the new vocabulary comes from the Millenial generation. As someone who doesn’t really fit in those generations (or any one, really, as a very young Gen Xer), I find that none of the vocabulary really speaks to me and the way I think, although I definitely feel more comfortable with the new vocabulary. How about you? Which vocabulary speaks to you more? Which one are you most comfortable with? Please share in the comments.

Protesters Arrested in Idaho Capital Building

Police in Boise today arrested 43 people for blocking the entrance to the Idaho Senate in the Idaho Capital Building. The protesters were asking that words be added to the Idaho Human Rights Act protecting gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people from discrimination. Among those arrested were former Idaho legislator Nicole LeFavour. Read the full AP article here.

The Reproductive Justice Advocacy Community

Are you interested in reproductive justice? Then you might be interested in the UUA’s monthly webinars and conference calls on reproductive justice.

The next webinar is November 4th, at 3:30 pm EST, and is entitled “The Embodied Border: Reproductive Justice and Immigration Reform.”

If that sounds interesting, check out the full schedule.

You might be asking, “What is reproductive justice?” From the UUA:

Within the framework of ‘reproductive justice,’ the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) works against the cultural, political, economic, and structural constraints that limit women’s access to health care and full reproductive choice. Reproductive justice, a concept put forth by coalitions of women of color, promotes the right of all women to have children, not to have children, and to raise their children in safe and healthy environments.

Immigration Reform

This country was built by immigrants (after they stole the land). But on their stolen land, the immigrants and their descendants built a great democracy, the likes of which the world had never seen before. Now, new immigrants are shut out of this country. If they do come, they are treated like pariahs. Is this the legacy we want to be remembered for? I know I don’t. Amidst the shutdown, a bill has been introduced into the House of Representatives for comprehensive immigration reform, HR 15. Sign this petition today to ask that the bill be brought to a vote.

Justice in the Court System

We believe ourselves to be a just society — that is part of what it means to be American — we are a meritocratic, democratic, melting pot of a just society. It’s like motherhood and apple pie — essential.

Unfortunately, that is not always true. Minorities of every type can tell you that we do not live in a truly just society. And one of the greatest indignities against justice is our so-called justice system. Our laws and courts are meant to create justice — to punish the guilty and release the innocent. None of that is guaranteed any longer — the innocent languish in prison and the guilty suffer undue punishment and become victims themselves.

A thorough overhaul of our prison and court system is needed — so that perpetrators of minor crimes receive light sentences, the innocent are not pressured into pleading guilty to avoid a heavy sentence, and those who are truly guilty are rehabilitated, not cruelly punished.

The ACLU is one organization working towards this end. There are others. If you are interested in the topic, watch this blog, or read The New Jim Crow.

World Mental Health Day

Today is World Mental Health Day. I received an email from the Center for Victims of Torture, describing a little bit of the work they do.

They enter the room quietly and take a seat in a small circle. Avoiding eye contact, they hesitate to connect with others, some appearing frozen, faces impassive. Emotion is avoided.

This is how small group counseling sessions might begin when survivors meet with CVT counselors for the first few weeks. Their experiences of torture and war atrocities have left many immobilized, struggling to get through a day.

Midway through the counseling cycle, a transformation begins. Feeling safe in the presence of the group, they are able to connect with their thoughts, feelings, bodies, surroundings, and loved ones. As they discuss experiences with each other, they cry, they support, they smile, and sometimes they laugh.

I receive regular emails from the Center for Victims of Torture, and while they sadden me because of the terrible things that happen in the world, they also uplift me for the good work they are doing.

Today is World Mental Health Day. If you have a mental illness, I hope you are getting the treatment you need. If you do not have a mental illness, spend a few moments learning about the signs and symptoms of mental illness, and consider how you might help those suffering.

October 5: National Day of Dignity & Respect

On October 5, all over the United States, groups will be marching for immigration reform, and against the deportations of illegal immigrants. You can learn more here: octoberimmigration.org

There are no events planned in the Idaho Falls area at this time. Contact me today if you are interested in holding one.

From the Standing on the Side of Love email I received:

The crisis of record deportations continues to separate families at alarming rates, impacting our communities and congregations in dire ways. Parents are torn from their children, spouses fare separated from one another. The time has come to stop the deportations. Indeed, it is long past time.

Immigrant justice groups of all stripes are putting a call out to people of faith to take action on the National Day of Dignity and Respect on Saturday, October 5th. Will you join us? Click here to find an event near you.

On this day, people in more than 40 cities across the country will mobilize for compassionate immigration reform. I will be at a march near my home in Sarasota, Florida, calling for reform that recognizes the worth of my family and so many others like mine.

The following week more than 200 faith leaders from 45 states, including your own Rev. Peter Morales, will fly to Washington, DC to advocate for immigration reform, culminating in a mass mobilization on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol.

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