The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee advances human rights through grassroots collaborations.
A Valentine’s Message to Those Transforming Hearts, Minds, and Lives
February 12, 2018
Check out the reflections from our staff below, on some of our incredible Love Resists partners. These organizations are on the frontlines every day, challenging domestic policies that harm their communities and the criminalization of people on the basis of their identity. Sign and send Valentine’s Day notes to show your love and appreciation for their critical work.
Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative
From: Phil Hamilton, Program Leader for Economic Justice
The Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (MuslimARC) has reached more than 10,000 people in just four years with its mission to provide education and resources to advance racial justice. This Detroit-based team is tackling racism, xenophobia, and Islamophobia through strategic and timely approaches like narrative shifting, bystander intervention training, and coalition building.
Following the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va. last August, MuslimARC released this statement, which captures the spirit and depth of their work:
“Until we acknowledge and understand the history of White Supremacy … we will not be able to dismantle effectively structural oppression or to address the root causes of hate and violence in this country… We must consider ourselves as active participants in this historical moment, not just passive witnesses.”
It’s a constant inspiration to learn from and work with this team who’s making tangible progress in dismantling individual and institutional racism, addressing social disparities, and amplifying the voices of those who are marginalized in the discourse on Islam.
Queer Detainee Empowerment Project
From: Shelly Koo, Associate for Online Content
Queer Detainee Empowerment Project (QDEP) advocates against the increasingly hostile and discriminatory treatment of LGBTQI detainees in immigration detention and supports queer immigrants in and outside of detention. The impact and breadth of this amazing group’s work is well illustrated in the experience of Ali* Dawodu:
Ali knew the difficulty of being a gay man in Nigeria. Despite the risks, he created an underground LGBTQI support network. When the network was discovered, Ali was attacked and his partner murdered in front of him. Devastated and afraid for his life, Ali fled to the United States to seek asylum. U.S. officials attempted to charge him with visa fraud, and he was held at a Rikers Island detention facility for six months, awaiting an asylum hearing.
During the six months Ali was in detention, QDEP visited him every two weeks and connected with him through their pen pal program. They also made regular calls to Rikers to speed up his asylum hearing. With QDEP’s help, Ali was released and granted asylum status. QDEP placed him in stable housing with a host home and is providing him financial support during his first three months out of detention as he trains to become a carpenter. Ali now attends QDEP’s weekly member meetings, which alternate between leadership development, film screenings, game nights, and support groups — and always include a hot meal.
*For confidentiality purposes, Ali’s name has been changed.
In line with UUSC’s values and eye-to-eye partnership model, QDEP is led by and for the communities it serves. Members of their staff and volunteer networks have experienced detention themselves.
From: Josh Leach, Associate for Programs, Research, and Advocacy
The UndocuBlack Network (UBN) is a growing community of current and former undocumented Black people who share a vision of inclusive immigrant rights and racial justice movements. They advocate for the rights of Black undocumented individuals and provide healing spaces and kinship to those with intersecting identities.
Their voices have been indispensable in ongoing advocacy for a clean Dream Act, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients, and common-sense immigration policy. UBN is breaking down policy complexities to help people understand how to exercise their rights, and offering meaningful ways for people to speak out for their values and immigrant community members.
It’s been my honor to attend activist events organized by this incredible organization, including a December press conference held in front of the U.S. Capitol as part of a Black-AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander) Immigrant Day of Action.
The conference featured four members of Congress and a number of directly impacted activists. All spoke to the urgent need to pass a clean Dream Act and a TPS solution – and to do so without measures that harm other immigrant community members..
“We will not forget the original dreamers: our parents, our grandparents,” said Denea Joseph, a UBN leader. “We will not be complicit.”
UBN keenly understands the needs of its community and invests energy to address them. UUSC had the privilege of directly supporting UBN’s guide for mental health professionals who work with undocumented Black immigrants. This tool is one piece of UBN’s larger initiative, acting on the urgent need for awareness around and access to mental health services for communities facing increased targeting, criminalization and deportations in this moment.
Read This Next
An Interview with Adanjesús Marín, Director of Make the Road PA
During a recent site visit to our partner Make the Road PA (MRPA), in Reading, Penn., UUSC sat down with MRPA’s Director, Adanjesús Marín, to talk about their work to organize and defend immigrant communities in Pennsylvania. Read More →