We need to stand for love, work for peace.
Some activists in Oakland were concerned that the Women’s March in 2017 would not represent the diverse struggles of all female-identifying people across class and race and immigration background and cis/trans experiences of discrimination. I went to the Oakland march, with a handmade sign that said “I stand here because Sandra Bland can’t.”
What made the event meaningful to me was definitely the diversity of that gathering and of the speakers (whom I didn’t get to hear because there was such amazing turnout that most of us couldn’t fit into the main square at city hall). But even moreso was how the event started for me:
On January 21, 2017, members of Kehilla Synagogue, Montclair Presbyterian Church and the Islamic Cultural Center in downtown Oakland co-hosted a worship service at the beginning of the march at Lake Merritt BART station. The three faith groups had been in relationship for years, and Kehilla chose for their primary worship to begin there and close in front of City Hall because as Rabbi Emeritus David Cooper said, “Today, in the words of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, we pray with our feet.”
I don’t know any of us whose hearts aren’t aching at the horrific violence at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA, especially knowing it follows four days after the Kroger shooting in Louisville, KY, a shooting that happened when the shooter was not able to enter the predominantly Black First Baptist Church of Jeffersontown to wreak his violence there. This is not the world we want for us or for our children. It is horrifying.
What I saw modeled at the Women’s March almost two years ago gives us a template for how to move forward right now. We need to stand for love. We need to do it in specific and concrete ways right now. Stand against anti-Judaism/anti-Semitism. Stand against anti-Blackness. Stand against islamophobia. Stand against xenophobia. Stand against transphobia. Stand for inclusion. Stand for love for EVERYONE.
Love does not need to be a mushy and abstract response to these concrete horrors. In fact, we cannot afford for it to be. Now is a moment to reach out to people of color-led and trans-led and Muslim-led and Jewish-led campaigns and nonprofits and movements (like Bend the Arc, Muslim Public Affairs Council, TGI Justice Project, Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, Black Alliance for Just Immigration). Now is a moment, if you belong to a faith community, to reach out to the nearby faith communities of different faiths than you so you can form safety plans to protect each other and show up for each other in the event of violence or threats. It is also the chance for you to begin showing up with and for each other before any such violence occurs.
The Oakland Peace Center partners have a series of listening sessions scheduled to vision with each other how to improve the building. I’m about to change that agenda so we can also talk about how we work together to build a culture of love in the face of fascism and hate. That is core to our work always, but right now, we need to get really specific about how we show up for each other and how we show up for you. I invite you to do the same, for the sake of building a world where love and peace and justice have the final say.