Opportunities to Support Racial Justice
As Unitarians, we are all outraged following the inhumane murder of George Floyd by members of the Minneapolis Police Department on May 25, 2020. We recognize that his murder stems from centuries of racial violence against innocent, unarmed Black men, women, and children in this country to uphold systems of white supremacy, and also that this violence stretches back to the founding of this country here in Virginia with the genocide of Indigenous Nations inhabiting this land.
Unfortunately, this violence too frequently continues to be perpetuated in policies and practices that inflict undue suffering and harm to communities of color. We know now is the time for people of faith and good will to stand up and speak out. If this describes you, following are some racial justice organizations that will help you get better informed and provide volunteer and witnessing opportunities:
- Support Black-Owned Businesses whenever possible
- Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy (VICPP)
- Current petition to sign against Racism
- Series of weekly virtual discussions currently focusing on racial justice
- Investigating a possible legislative action to eliminate Money Bail in Virginia
- Campaign Zero
- Excellent information on 10 policy initiatives (8 that can’t wait) that would significantly change police/community interactions.
- Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) NoVA
- Goal is activating white people to work for racial justice in the Northern Virginia area.
- Seeking investigations of the deaths of Natasha McKenna (2015) and the firing of the Fairfax officers involved.
- Justice Forward Virginia
- Non-partisan political action committee (PAC) bringing attention to the urgent need for criminal justice reform
- Develops legislation and supports candidates who advocate for comprehensive reforms to Virginia’s criminal justice system
- Current series of webinars in the run-up to special session of the General Assembly
- The Movement for Black Lives (M4BL)
- M4BL seeks to reach millions, mobilize hundreds of thousands, and organize tens of thousands, so that Black political power is a force able to influence national and local agendas.
- Six long standing policy platforms with two new ones specific to what is happening in 2020:
- Demand that the rights of protestors be respected and protected and that there be no abuse of powers.
- Demand immediate relief for minority communities from the impacts of the pandemic.
- American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
- The ACLU of Virginia is one of 54 local offices across the U.S. working with attorneys and activists in their communities to shape better policies and spread awareness about their states’ priority civil rights issues.
- People Power is the ACLU’s platform for grassroots action working with volunteers and supporters to defend civil liberties and civil rights…..many opportunities to volunteer.
- ACLU of Minnesota filed a lawsuit on behalf of journalists who were targeted and attacked by police for covering protests over the killing of George Floyd
- Black Lives Matter works to organize and mobilize in response to anti-Black violence and structural inequality.
- Black Visions Collective works to build movements from the ground up with an integrated model to create the conditions for long-term success and transformation.
- Color of Change leads campaigns that build real power for Black communities by helping people respond effectively to injustice in the world around us.
- La ColectiVA is an inclusive collaborative led by gente Latinx who are committed to upholding social justice and equity.
Study Issue: Racial Justice
Study Issue News!
Supporting Afghan Refuges
By Kathryn Adams
Locally, I have been engaged with Lutheran Social Services. The State Dept works with 9 resettlement non-profits. LSS has a Lutheran history and is non-denominational with the CEO speaking broadly of her Hindu faith. The agency grew extensively out of the Vietnam Airlift (staff of 4 to staff of 100 in that timeframe).
- General LSS information: https://lssnca.org/
- In Kind Donations: https://lssnca.org/take_action/gift-boxes.html
- There are no specific events on the calendar, though volunteers and donations are critical. I will be a youth mentor coming up. The need is constantly shifting, but donations of funds and gift cards (esp. grocery stores) is a big request.
- Groups can collaborate to furnish a home, $ 2-4,000 commitment. Desired housing is sufficient for families, independent, and LSS is focused on the “long welcome”.
UUSJ provided this document, 5 Ways to Support Afghans Seeking Refuge, and outlines:
- Contacting Your Members of Congress
- Amplify on Social Media
- Community Sponsorship
- Financial Contributions
- Influence the Public Narrative
Locally, there is an organization, Kabultec (https://kabultec.org/contact/) that ran a clothing/furnishing drive and plans another in the fall supporting the refugees. Kabultec supports couples literacy. The drive was promoted through UUSJ.
Nearby congregations suggested these resources
Northern Virginia Community Foundation (CFNOVA): https://www.cfnova.org/community-leadership/afghan-relief-and-resettlement-fund-for-northern-virginia. The fund is managed by the foundation and all donations will be used to support local and regional nonprofits, such as Lutheran Social Services, Catholic Charities, and Ethiopian Community Development Council, among others, who specialize in the resettlement of refugees and are positioned to provide immediate assistance and longer-term aid.
KAMA DC: KAMA DC provides a platform for immigrants to share their skills and stories and maintains two comprehensive resources: Resources for Afghans in the DMV and How to Support Afghans Arriving in the DMV Area. These resources include information on donating money and goods, volunteering, advocacy and refugee-assisting organizations.
All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS): ADAMS is coordinating with mosques and relief groups in Northern Virginia to meet immediate and long-term needs.
- Donate here and specify “ADAMS Relief Fund – Afghan Evacuees”
- Volunteers who speak Dari or Pashtu are needed for interpretation both by phone and in person. Please sign up at this link. NOTE: Your information may be shared with U.S. State Department, Department of Homeland Security and Department of Defense.