A message from Rev. Justin Schroeder, Senior Minister, and Rev. Jen Crow, Executive Minister, First Universalist Church of Minneapolis
This past Sunday, a young, unarmed black man, Jamar Clark, was shot in the head by a Minneapolis police officer. Spending time at the 4th Precinct on Sunday night with other clergy, it's clear that people are angry, grieving, and wanting justice for Jamar Clark.
Since the shooting, we've witnessed ongoing protests at the 4th Precinct, and a two hour shut down of I-94 on Monday night. Many of you have been asking, "What can we do?" There's no one right way to respond, but there are a number of ways to be involved, each one grounded in our faith and in our [First Universalist's] racial justice resolution:
In the last two weeks of August I went on a self-constructed two week language immersion experience in Copenhagen. While there I wore a small "Black Lives Matter" button. It led to some fascinating conversations. Huge numbers of people from the Middle East, Syria especially, are pushing their way towards Europe. The Continent finds itself with the biggest wave of displaced people and its biggest humanitarian crisis since World War 2.
Denmark has a new right wing coalition government. And there, as here, politicians on the right compete with each other over how far they are willing to go in getting tough on immigrants. The new immigration minister, Inger Støjberg, has a special gift from dramatic anti-immigrant gestures which make great hooks for news stories. One of her moves was try to remove the special permission to immigrate that the former left wing government had given to 2,500. Another was to put an ad in a Lebanese newspaper telling people that Denmark was a bad place to come to (and calculating the cost of this advertisement as equal to the cost of supporting one immigrant for one year) -- or sending more police to the border.
What can one say about Ferguson? Never enough, never enough, for some of us, and while for others, even one mention of the name is too much. There is much that swirls in the air these days about how we, as a country, respond to the continuing existence of racism in our institutions, our hearts, and our minds. It was this in mind that I went as part of our MidAmerica contingent to the events marking the one year anniversary of the death (murder) of Michael Brown.
Why did I go? Although I was involved as much as someone of my age could be in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, I left the States early in the 1970s for Canada. There the “complexion” of race relations is not the same — it’s based on a different history, and racism in Canada comes from similar but different strands. So when I returned to the States in the 1990s, I was playing catch up on issues around race. I noticed that some things had changed (many for the better), but that the great divide still existed with regard to education, employment, justice, and how people socialize. I wanted to learn more about that, and so I dabbled in the topic for years. Since coming on staff for MidAmerica, the trainings have deepened, and I am pleased to be able to work on intercultural competency issues for our Region.