A Q&A with Rich BlintBaldwin’s consistent and insistent interrogation of how the mythology of race, class, and power operates in America to blind and divide us is singular in its analytical depth, sweep, and emotional power. His work reads as a kind of prophecy simply because he was clear about how profoundly dangerous it has always been for Americans not to confront the truth about the violent racial history of the country. His work must be read as testimony, as, yes, a secular witnessing to the serious perils of indulging in the American fiction of “whiteness” and its purported superiority.
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By Donald Collins
Recognition of trans lives gets stronger when we communicate. Strengthening familial bonds, having friends we trust. Making workplaces, schools, doctor’s office and places of worship safe through education and funding. Talking about where gender meets race, sexual orientation, class, and ability. All this starts with conversations, showing up and being present. There are so many people out there that haven’t reached out yet, or been reached. And this process of “reaching” is exhausting, so we have to take care of ourselves and each other.
By Eileen Truax“Numbers are not looking well.” This was the welcome phrase that I got just a minute after I arrived to the Election Night Watch Party organized by a group of academics in Downtown Los Angeles. Electoral results were falling state by state, and the evidence started appearing before our eyes: Donald Trump, a man who verbally attacked Mexicans, immigrants, Muslims, journalists, women; the one who promised to build a wall in the border and to deport eleven million undocumented immigrants, was about to become President Elect.
By Gail Forsyth-VailOn November 3, 2016, more than 500 clergy from many faith traditions gathered at Standing Rock in support of the Sioux Nation’s protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline. As part of the day of witness, Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) President Rev. Peter Morales was one of seven denominational leaders who read statements repudiating the 1493 Doctrine of Discovery, a papal bull which offered the rationale for the colonization of the Americas and other countries by European Christian powers. By virtue of the Doctrine, Christians were given the legal right to take, colonize, settle, and extract resources from land belonging to those who were not Christian. The statement Morales read, adopted by the UUA General Assembly, called for Unitarian Universalists to learn about the doctrine and its ongoing impacts, not only on indigenous peoples, but on the political, legal, economic, and cultural systems in the United States, in local communities, and in our congregations.
By Daisy HernándezI don’t know how to talk to my parents these days. Mami didn’t vote for Trump, but when I told her my outrage the day after the election, she said, “The man hasn’t even taken office yet. Let him take office.” I initially took her defense to mean that like my father, she had voted for Cheetoh, since she usually follows Papi’s lead.
The results of the 2016 presidential election have left many people in shock and disappointment. In a time where people are fearing that a new administration will work to reverse much of the progress made in the last eight years, we are left wondering what the future holds. How do we continue to fight against climate change, fight for reproductive rights, LGBTQ protections, and racial and economic justice?
By Kay WhitlockIt’s much harder to admit to playing in one’s own dark gardens of fear.
By Rev. Dr. William J. Barber IIEarly Wednesday morning, after running a controversial campaign that was even endorsed by the KKK, Donald J. Trump thanked his supporters for victory and promised to be a president for all Americans. A shock to almost every pollster and political pundit, his victory has been heralded as an unprecedented political upheaval. But the reactionary wave that swept across America this past Tuesday is not an anomaly in our history. It is, instead, an all too familiar pattern in the long struggle for American reconstruction.
By Sharon Leslie Morgan and Thomas Norman DeWolfDeep, authentic relationships with people we’ve been raised to see as “other” are key to understanding and reversing the impacts of racism and other forms of intolerance and inequity, and the misuse of power, and privilege. For the two of us, there is solace in knowing that someone shares our beliefs and commitment to social justice. We have built a friendship over the years that helps sustain us. We can talk with and lean on each other in times of madness and sadness, as we did on election night and surely in days to come.
By Mary CollinsIn honor of the word “Awareness” in Transgender Awareness Week, I urge parents in conflict with their trans teen or college student to try their hand at penning an authentic personal essay about how you feel about what’s going on. Pick a specific topic—such as “name change”—and then ask your child to pen his/her/it/they own essay as well.
By Kay WhitlockAlready an avid reader, TV watcher, and moviegoer, I fell easily into the gravitational pull of the Fearful Darkness through story. Sure, it was scary—but also a huge relief. Tales from the astonishing imaginations of Shelley, Wells, Stoker, Poe, Conrad, Conan Doyle, Bradbury, and Jackson, and movies like The Bad Seed and Invasion of the Body Snatchers provided emotional recompense for my fears without actually exposing me to danger. But more than that, hinting at intricate, multilayered understandings of reality, these stories produced fantastical images and symbols that struck a nerve, even if I didn’t fully understand them. I know now that it was never terror I yearned for so much as truth, no matter how slant it was served up.
By Rev. Elizabeth M. EdmanIt should be a shock that those who enthusiastically claim the mantle of Christianity would reject peace as part of a knee-jerk hatred of LGBTQ people. The degree to which this is an affront to Christian mission cannot be overstated. Yet this is fully and completely the “fruit of the spirit” of queerphobic proclamation. It gestures powerfully toward the theological and ethical vacuousness of such teachings and goes a long way toward explaining the crisis in credibility that plagues the contemporary church.
A Q&A with Mary Frances BerryDonald Trump is emphasizing the possibility of voter fraud because if he loses he may want to challenge the election. The most obvious way to do that is to charge fraud. The conventional wisdom that there is little or no voter fraud is not quite accurate. While there is little in-person fraud that can be prevented with ID laws, the more pervasive fraud involves misuse of ballots and other kinds of vote-buying. This is what I call suppression of voter choice on the cheap. Studies and news accounts usually examine only the lack of a large number of prosecutions. The problem is that in most cases of vote buying, local prosecutors refuse to prosecute mainly, I believe, because buying votes is common, and indeed, they themselves—as well as local judges—may have bought votes to get elected. In a close count of electoral votes, this type of fraud in one state could make a difference.
I’ve had a connection to Beacon since college—one of my professors assigned Kindred for class! One of my final courses at Emerson College was a publicity class and I had to interview someone for a paper. I interviewed Beacon author Linda K. Wertheimer, author of Faith Ed and an instructor at GrubStreet, where I was working at the time. Soon after, a position opened up in the publicity department and I quickly applied. Getting to meet one of our authors and to speak with her directly was a really great way for me to learn more about Beacon before interviewing for a position I was really interested in.
By Kay WhitlockThere was only the slight shivery sense of...something else.
A Q&A with Adrienne BerardWriting history about minorities and people of color, you are constantly confronted with the value system of the societies in which they lived. Some crucial records were never kept, and the accuracy of the records that exist is questionable. The racism of their time affected how their story was remembered, or in this case, not remembered.
By An Xiao MinaIn a democracy, memes reflect the sheer diversity of opinions and voices of the people, from right, left, and center alike. And in a democracy where the majority of people use the Internet, we should expect to see more memetic discourse on serious issues, as the artifacts of Internet culture spill over from social networking platforms and into our physical world and newscasts.
By Kay WhitlockIt occurs to me that, in part, I write so much about fear and its structural forms in public and private institutions because I have so often been afraid.
By Maya FernandezI have always believed I’m Black. Both of my parents are Black, the majority of my immediate family identifies as Black, so essentially, I am Black. While race was a continuous topic of discussion in my household, colorism—discrimination or prejudice based on skin color—was left unattended. Similar to racism, colorism establishes a hierarchy in which lighter skin is treated with higher regard than darker skin. My father, a cultural proficiency consultant, made sure my sisters and I understood how society would see us as black women, but somehow forgot to give us the tools to navigate a world also plagued by colorism. It wasn’t until I stepped outside the comfort of my front door that I was fully able to grasp the concept of colorism.
By Thich Nhat HanhIn mindfulness one is not only restful and happy, but alert and awake. Meditation is not evasion; it is a serene encounter with reality. The person who practices mindfulness should be no less awake than the driver of a car; if the practitioner isn’t awake he will be possessed by dispersion and forgetfulness, just as the drowsy driver is likely to cause a grave accident. Be as awake as a person walking on high stilts—any mis-step could cause the walker to fall. Be like a medieval knight walking weaponless in a forest of swords. Be like a lion, going forward with slow, gentle, and firm steps. Only with this kind of vigilance can you realize total awakening.