Rights Reading

Our weekly roundup of what we’re reading includes a few select articles from the front lines of human rights that we don’t want you to miss. This week we are highlighting the importance of intersectionality – and some various groups that are leading this charge!

Protest groups to unite as “The Majority” for massive actions across the country on May 1, Aaron Morrison, Mic, March 23, 2017

woman holding an american flag during a protest 

Over 50 partners, comprised of refugee, LGBTQ, Black, Latino, immigrants, and other minority groups are coming together from April to May to launch protests all across the United States. These groups, known as The Majority, are calling the April to May events “Beyond the Moment,” inspired by Dr. King’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech, in which he first addressed the importance of intersectional work rather than focusing only on civil rights.

Since the inauguration of Trump, there have been weekly protests around indigenous rights, climate change, women’s rights, refugee and immigrant rights, and other issues. The Majority emphasizes that supporters of the “Beyond the Moment” movement think and go beyond this  current administration in order to effect lasting change.

Among some of the groups that make up The Majority are Mijente and Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, UUSC partners doing amazing work.

Arab Americans lead the charge for US civil liberties, Massoud Hayoun, Al Jazeera, March 20, 2017

Arab American community leaders are working with other minority groups that are being threatened by the current administration. The working-class, people of color, women, and other groups are showing a united front in the midst of increasing threats and violence. Leaders in the Arab American community understand that social justice must be won in unity with other oppressed groups, as the struggles in one group are linked with another.

Trump’s presidency has stressed the need and importance of deepening and strengthening intersectional work. The administration has brought to light a history of this kind of work. One of several examples of intersectional work highlighted in this article is the work of Arab American Action Network (AAAN) in Chicago, an organization that works on racial profiling. AAAN works closely with teachers unions to make schools sanctuary schools for both undocumented and Black students.

As Rashad al-Dabbagh, founding director of Arab American Civic Council, a UUSC partner, states, “There’s no way we’d be able to survive without unity. That’s why it’s important to work together with all of our communities – Latinos, Asians, LGBT groups, African Americans, Indigenous peoples. Our struggles are linked. Right now, we’re at a point in history where we cannot afford to work alone.”

Read more about UUSC’s work with Arab American Civic Council here.

Texas UU coalition fights bills hostile to immigrants and transgender people, Elaine McArdle, UU World, March 28, 2017

Last February, on Legislative Action Day, 240 Unitarian Universalists from Texas met with legislators to advocate for reproductive, immigrant, refugee, and economic justice. This event was organized by Texas UU Justice Ministry (TXUUJM), a UUSC partner that organizes a statewide network of UU congregations.

One of the actions was to oppose a Sanctuary City Bill, which would affect immigrant communities. TXUUJM has a longstanding history of working with immigrant communities. TJUUJM has also been working with the transgender community and is working against a bill that prevents transgender people from choosing which bathroom they prefer to use. UUSC is proud of the wide-ranging and intersectional work that TXUUJM and other Unitarian Universalists are doing in Texas.

Celebrate International Women’s Day!

Photo of women artisans from around the world

International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate women’s various achievements all around the world each year. This year’s theme is #BeBoldForChange. Below, we’re highlighting inspiring and bold women artisans who make the goods from UUSC’s online store, The Good Buy. The Good Buy makes it easy for you to find and support inspiring mission-driven, women-led businesses.

Meet Veronica, born and raised in a small town Bolivia. With effort and hard work, she raises llamas, enabling her to collect the wool for weaving and also to sell wool to other artisans. Read her full story here!

Read more inspiring stories of the strong women from around the world The Good Buy partners with who run cooperatives, own businesses, and transform their communities in the rest of the Meet the Maker series.

Rights Reading

Our weekly roundup of what we’re reading: a few select articles from the front lines of human rights that we don’t want you to miss. This week’s Rights Readings highlights focus on our work supporting immigrant rights, specifically Central American migrants.

Hundreds of Central American moms and kids released from detention in Texas, Esther Yu Hsi Lee, Think Progress, December 6, 2016

Hundreds of families were released from family detention facilities last weekend. Though Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) claims the release was not part of any court ruling, the release of families comes after a judge’s ruling that detention centers could not be licensed as child-care facilities. Advocacy groups are helping the approximately 470 mothers and children from Central America find temporary accommodation or get in touch with relatives.

The release of these families is a huge win for immigrant-rights groups. Many of them have come across the border fleeing extreme violence and seek asylum here in the United States. These families, including mothers with small children, are then locked up in detention centers with inadequate medical care, poor and restrictive conditions, and a “prison-like” environment. One of the family detention centers recently banned the use of crayons, a creative and healing outlet for children. Advocacy groups, including UUSC, are hopeful and continue to call on the Obama administration to end family detention altogether.

UUSC partner, RAICES, is currently looking for volunteers through the UU College of Social Justice. Learn more and apply here!

US Border Patrol uses desert as ‘weapon’ to kill thousands of migrants, report says, Rory Carroll, The Guardian, December 7, 2016

“The known disappearance of thousands of people in the remote wilderness of the US–Mexico border zone marks one of the great historical crimes of our day.”

No More Deaths, a UUSC partner, and La Coalición de Derechos Humanos released part one of a report detailing how the “U.S. Border Patrol has engineered the death and disappearance of tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants by using the desert wilderness as a ‘weapon’”. The report, Disappeared: How Border-Enforcement Agencies Are Fueling a Missing-Persons Crisis, draws on over 500 missing persons cases and close to 60 border crossers. Since 1990, tens of thousands who have crossed the desert are still missing, including 1,200 in the last year.

In response to the report, U.S. Customs and Border Protection released a statement blaming the deaths on lying smugglers. The statement defended their actions and pointed to their past attempts to search for missing persons.

The next two reports from No More Deaths and Derechos Humanos will continue to show how the border patrol has aided in the death and disappearance of migrants in the desert through destruction of vital water and food supplies left by humanitarian agencies. Click here to read the full report or take action now to end the crisis of death and disappearance.

Global Women’s Call for Climate Justice

UUSC staff supporting women's global call to climate action

From Oct 28 to Nov 6, UUSC is joining our allies and grassroots partners in the Global Women’s Call for Climate Justice: Ten Days of Action campaign. The campaign is a lead up to the UNFCCC COP 22 annual meeting held in Marrakech, Morocco.

The Global Women’s Call for Climate Justice seeks to amplify the experiences of women and children, who are the most vulnerable amongst us, in addressing the injustices caused by environmental injustices and climate change. It also seeks to elevate the various ways that women around the world are taking action to implement sustainable solutions to adapt to and mitigate the effects of these problems. 

We are encouraged by the voices and the actions that women around the world are taking to address this catastrophe. Women are stepping up and showing us and the rest of the world what works.  

Women experience multiple challenges in part due to the various roles they play – they are mothers, wives, daughters, farmers, caregivers, etc., not to mention the inherent attributes that they experience from just being a woman such as giving birth, nursing their children, and menstruating every month. These various layers that women play need to be taken into consideration when we’re thinking about long term climate actions – whether its adaptation or mitigation or whether it involves financing or politics. Planning our strategies from a women’s rights perspective ensures that we are advancing gender equity, which then produces a number of outcomes that are just and sustainable. A classic example of this is happening right now in many parts of Africa, where rural women farmers are fighting for their rights to access land. Accessing land gives them the security to be able to take care of their families, to farm their lands using agroecological methods that reduce emissions, and to protect them and their children from being exploited and displaced. 

UUSC is proud to be a part of this initiative, and we stand with our allies in demanding that our global leaders advance climate justice and gender justice at COP 22 and beyond.