This summer, our congregation voted to put up a “Black Lives Matter” sign to take a stance for racial justice in our community. We are joining about 150 Unitarian Universalist churches across the country, including in nearby Medford and Arlington, who have put up BLM signs to publicly show we are allies of the Movement for Black Lives. As people of faith who dedicate ourselves to standing on the side of love, fairness and compassion, we know we cannot be silent in the face of our country’s history and reality of race-based injustice.
What does it mean to say that “black lives matter”? It’s not just a slogan. It’s a claim that the lives of black people in our country – who have been oppressed, marginalized, and victimized by violence and exploitation for generations – are worth honoring, respecting, and safe-guarding. As Unitarian Universalists, our First Principle says that each person has “inherent worth and dignity” and we know that, too often, the worth and dignity of black and brown Americans has been dismissed and discounted. This happens through daily slights and insensitive comments, yes. But even more importantly, it happens through larger systems of law enforcement, housing, health care, transportation, and education that fail to serve communities of color.
Last year, our congregation read together “The New Jim Crow,” by Michelle Alexander, which shows how the US criminal justice system, from policing to courts to prisons to probation, has been created to target black and brown Americans and today unfairly destroys millions of lives and thousands of communities. We hope to partner with all people in the Malden and Mystic Valley communities who care about these injustices and want to see this change in our state and our country.
We are currently submitting an application through the City of Malden Sign Design Review Committee to display a large, public sign. While that application is being processed, we have added “Black Lives Matter” to our existing sign. We are glad that Malden is now engaging in community conversations about race, and hope our stance in support of the non-violent Movement for Black Lives helps add urgency and clarity to that discussion.
First Parish Malden Social Justice Committee