Council is now out of session until early September, but this past week was bookended by my participation in two events: Reclaim the Movement on Monday night and the collaboration between Eugene Pride and Black Unity on Saturday.
In both cases, the events are calling attention to the reality that within or under the umbrella of BIPOC and LGBTQ live many intersections and unique histories, losses and challenges. Reclaim the Movement aims to keep the focus of Black Lives Matter on the root cause of injustice -- slavery. That is a different historical injustice and loss than that of indigenous people who were dispossessed of their sacred lands; and different yet again from other communities of color who today struggle with immigration status and language barriers. The LGBTQ community spans all of these with a doubly compounded challenge of gender identity as well as being members of BIPOC.
These two events are all the more powerful in their statement of strength and commitment in light of the armed civilians who were invited by the New Hope Baptist College in an ill-advised effort to protect their property. At the very least, for a private college to call in support from armed civilians is irresponsible. At the worst, this could have triggered a violent, uncontrolled crisis resulting in the loss of lives. The neighborhood was rightly alarmed. As others have pointed out, there are many other community resources that could have been brought to bear in the name of peace and justice to avoid the potential property damage that triggered New Hope’s alarming decision. Other churches and faith communities and peace advocates, not to mention the City’s own Human Rights Commission and Human Rights and Neighborhood Involvement teams could have helped mediate with the group that threatened to tear down the cross.
Racial justice is the work before us. We must not allow – or even worse, enable – the militant, visibly armed forces to divert us or divide us in this work. Peace requires discipline, compassion, and the capacity to look people in the eye and recognize one another as fellow human beings.