“Now is the accepted time, not tomorrow, not some more convenient season. It is today that our best work can be done and not some future day or future year. It is today that we fit ourselves for the greater usefulness of tomorrow. Today is the seed time, now are the hours of work, and tomorrow comes the harvest and the playtime.” (W.E.B. DuBois)
We hold in prayerful hearts today the people of Emmanuel AME Church who lost their pastor and eight others when a white supremacist terrorist entered their church, was welcomed, sat for a time among them, and then opened fire. Dead are Mira Thompson, Tywanza Sanders, Cynthia Hurd, Ethel Lee Lance, Susie Jackson, Daniel Simmons, Depayne Middleton-Doctor, Sharonda Singleton, and State senator and pastor Clementa Pinkney.
As Unitarian Universalists, we have been the objects of violent hatred. We lost two of our own inside one of our congregation’s buildings in 2008 in Knoxville. We were hated simply for being allies of the African American and LGBT movements for equality, freedom, and respect. In response, we Unitarians launched our "Standing on the Side of Love” campaign. This shooting in Charleston doesn't call for us to launch a movement, but to join a movement, and now is the time. This shooting calls for us to be partners, work in solidarity, join coalitions, build bridges, and step up today.
As allies we are, may we have the strength to be steadfast and strong allies.
These deaths say to us that we must work passionately and unrelentingly for love, and not tomorrow, not some more convenient season. May we be not politely silent when we hear words of prejudice or the jokes of bigotry. May we find the calm compassion to speak truth.
May we find in our hearts the commitment to initiate conversations with our neighbors, co-workers, extended family. To encourage those conversations, may we acquire and place prominently in front of our homes yards signs that say black lives matter.
There is a white supremacist culture that devalues black lives, and its continuation depends upon our silence. So may we not be silent. Thus do we pray.