Social Justice Updates

22 November, 2020
 

Interfaith Thanksgiving Service – 22 November (zoom)

Gather today, November 22 at 7 PM, and join us for an annual tradition of the Sharon Interfaith Clergy Association. The theme this year is “We Need Each Other: Now More Than Ever.” Temple Sinai will be hosting this event on Zoom. Sharon Interfaith Thanksgiving Service zoom link:  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81448792702; Passcode: “Thanks”.  Rabbi Randy Kafka of Temple Kol Tikvah is this year’s featured speaker, with clergy participating from many of our diverse Sharon houses of worship. We will conduct a town-wide food drive for the Ilse Marks Sharon/Stoughton food pantry as part of this service. Canned goods and other non-perishables can be brought to the bin outside UCS, and labeled “Thanksgiving.” Contributions to our grocery cards for food pantries program can be made by mailing a check to UCS with “Thanksgiving food pantry donation” in the memo line, or with the same memo online through our PayPal account.

 
Future Opportunities for Racial Justice Engagement

As stated in the November Newsletter, “Racial injustice is deeply rooted in our culture, and the ongoing work for social justice calls us to examine this problem in all its complexity.” The UCS Anti Racism Working Group has recently facilitated two programs to assist in this endeavor and plans to continue offering opportunities on an ongoing basis this year and in the years ahead, recognizing that this work requires a lifelong commitment.

Our next program focuses on the book Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent by Isabel Wilkerson. In the book, Wilkerson “gives us a masterful portrait of an unseen phenomenon in America as she explores, through an immersive, deeply researched narrative and stories about real people, how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings.” (Source: Politics and Prose, an independent bookstore located in Chevy Chase, Washington, D.C.)

Dwight Garner, the chief critic of The New York Times, called Caste “an instant American classic and almost certainly the keynote nonfiction book of the American century thus far.”

The program on Caste will start with a series of discussion groups, now pushed to December AND JANUARY, on a video interview of Isabel Wilkerson by the historian and author John Meacham. We will then have an opportunity for a congregational read of the book, with group discussion(S) available, including one by The Not Boring Book Group at its February 3rd meeting.

During the Meacham interview of Wilkerson, we hear Wilkerson’s report that the U.S. is actually built on an unrecognized caste system which has created substantial barriers to those at the bottom of the system, with African Americans being the lowest caste. The video offers an important new perspective on American history and we have broken it down into 3 separate sessions in order to provide more time for reflection and discussion of the information being provided. We will be offering a variety of dates and times to watch and discuss the video with other congregants, as provided below. We encourage you to attend all 3 sessions with the same group however we understand that there may be times you need to attend other dates. We also urge you to pre-register for the sessions if possible, using this RESPONSE FORM: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1eNPn33JwEdPr3tN2bA7eGyoDw_QAhr0cFIT57od3JjE/edit

ISABEL WILKERSON – CASTE

FACILITATOR

WEEKDAY

TIME

DATES

FREQUENCY

 

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

 

 

Ellen Schoenfeld-Beeks

Tuesday – Midday

12:30-1:45pm

12/8

1/12

2/9

Monthly – 2nd Tuesday

Barbara Nelkin-Rose

Tuesday

Evening

7:30-8:45pm

12/22

12/29

1/5

Weekly

Gare Reid

Thursday Afternoon

2:30-3:45pm

1/7

1/14

1/21

Weekly

Kate Parker O’Toole

Monday Afternoon

4:00-5:15pm

12/7

12/14

12/21

Weekly

Mia Joiner-Moore

Thursday Evening

7:00-8:15pm

12/3

1/7

2/4

Monthly -1st Thursday

 

The Not Boring Book Group – February Selection:

In collaboration with the racial justice work being done here at church, we have selected for our February 3rd discussion the book Caste: The Origin of our Discontent by Isabel Wilkerson.  A few books will be available for loan through our church library. If you plan on buying the book, we encourage you to make your purchase from Frugal Bookstore, a Black-owned bookstore in Roxbury. [https://frugalbookstore.net]. You can also purchase an audiobook – available through audiobooks.com and audible.com, both of which offer a free 30 day trial.  Here are the links to audiobook options   https://www.audiobooks.com/audiobook/caste-oprahs-book-club-the-origins-of-our-discontents/420917 OR  https://www.audible.com/pd/Caste-Oprahs-Book-Club-Audiobook/0593339800 

Additionally,  if there seems to be a large number of people who would like to engage in this book discussion, the Anti -Racism Working Group will be happy to offer additional discussion groups beyond the monthly book group meeting as well.

  • In the meantime, SPN is offering these public events: 

    ADDRESSING RACISM CONTINUING DISCUSSIONS                            All are welcome! The Sharon Pluralism Network is committed to offering the people of Sharon a respectful and open space to deal as a community with our increased understanding of Black history and our awareness of the racial inequities that have been built into the American social and economic structure. As part of this ongoing commitment, SPN will hold eight conversations in November and December. In the two November sessions, we will watch a Ted talk by Isabel Wilkerson entitled “The Great Migration: the Power of a Single Decision.” This 18 minute talk chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the Jim Crow South for northern and western cities. It was the first time any group of citizens has sought political asylum within the borders of their own country. In the December video sessions, held over three consecutive weeks, Jon Meacham interviews Isabel Wilkerson about Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent, her new book that focuses on the U.S. social structure as an unrecognized caste system. In doing so, Wilkerson expresses her hope that an understanding of this caste system will allow us to see what we couldn’t see before and be able to find a way to somehow transcend the barriers they pose. Come Join Us! Please RSVP using this link: https://forms.gle/9t667j2tAmL76F7Y6 
UUSC & Guest at Your Table – (November) 
During November, we want to offer families a chance to explore the Guest at Your Table program: Thanksgiving may be different this year, with fewer friends and relatives crowded around our tables, but it’s still a season of gratitude. Unlike many others in the world, we have secure homes, enough food, and freedom from fear and violence.  The UU Service Committee’s annual “Guest at Your Table” program gives us a way to remind us of these blessings and to share our gratitude with small acts of generosity, by keeping a donation box on our tables through Thanksgiving.

Our UUSC partner organizations in Central America are working to make sure no one is forced to flee their home due to violence or economic devastation. Our partners in Alaska, Louisiana, and the Pacific are fighting for their homes and ancestral lands against the ravages of extractive industries and climate change. And our partners in Burma, Bangladesh, and beyond are working tirelessly to support the rights of the Rohingya ethnic minority of Burma after facing government backed genocide in their homeland.  These struggles for human rights are represented by four ‘guests’: Suja Karimuddin, a Burmese Rohingya exile building a refugee community in Malaysia; Adela Ramirez, supporting those who’ve been deported back to Guatemala; Chief Shirelle Parfait-Dardar, working to save her tribe’s lands and livelihood in Louisiana, and Mark Stege, a Marshall Islander trying to protect his homeland from advancing climate change.  You can learn more about their work and see interviews with them at https://www.uusc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/GAYT-2020-21-Stories-of-Hope.pdf  Or you can make your own box with a template found at https://www.uusc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Template-for-homemade-GAYT-box-2020-21.pdf

At the end of November, you can count up the money and send a check to the UUSC with the form provided on the box, or you can send a check to the Unitarian Church of Sharon with the memo ‘Guest at Your Table,’ and we’ll be sure it gets to the UUSC.  We’ll honor our partnership with these human rights advocates again at our Nov. 30 worship service on ‘Gratitude.’ Warm thanks for your participation from the Social Justice Committee.

Transgender Day of Remembrance

Friday, November 20, 2020 was Transgender Day of Remembrance and unfortunately “this year at least 34 transgender or gender non-conforming people have been murdered by violent means in the United States… the majority of these victims were Black transgender women living at the intersection of racism, homophobia, and transphobia.” From Elle Magazine. Article also lists the names of those killed and organizations fighting for change. https://www.elle.com/culture/a34660519/transgender-day-of-remembrance-2020/ 

A Transgender Day Remembrance Prayer: https://www.uua.org/worship/words/prayer/transgender-day-remembrance-prayer

Gifts for Kids 2020 – our Brown Envelope recipient for November

GFK 2020:  Have you been dreaming about being an elf for the holidays? The Gifts for Kids Program, which began 30 years ago by our own Pat McDougal, matches children in need with sponsors to provide gifts for the holidays. Over 1,200 children are on the list this year that were identified by social service agencies in Norfolk County, and we need your help more than ever. We are unable to match donors to individual children or provide gifts to families this year. Instead, we will be providing gift cards to our affiliated social service agencies that will distribute them to families. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, we are asking for monetary gifts so that GFK can purchase gift cards at a discount, stretching your dollars even further. You can make a donation through the church website, or go directly to www.giftsforkidsma.org. Your generosity will help make a child’s holiday brighter. Thanks! (Questions? Contact Alison Reid at alisonr@giftsforkidsma.org)   

Masks & Face Shields for Brockton Families

Thank you, all, for your wonderful work in making so many masks, and Carter Chamberlain, thank you for purchasing the materials, providing the patterns, making the instructional video, lending sewing machines, coordinating the cutting to the full assembly and for supporting and encouraging each volunteer. Thank you, also, for designing and producing the face shields. A very special thank you to Rev. Jim Robinson for contributing $500 for the extra boxed masks for Brockton children. I am truly blessed to work with all of you. Some of you have been making masks for months. Welcome to those of you who are just starting. We lift each other up with this work, and we help protect the children of Brockton with the outcome of your work, beautiful children’s masks. Barbers, crossing guards, store clerks, small shop attendants, hair dressers and so many others are using the face shields to keep themselves safe. Thank you, thank you, all!

Elizabeth Siftar

Grocery Card Donations to Local Food Pantries
 
Since April the SJC has collected over $22,650 to support the 5 local food pantries in our neighborhoods. Here is what the director of the Sharon/Stoughton Food Pantry wrote after our most recent donation:
 
Thank you for the extremely generous donation of grocery store gift cards to the Ilse Marks Food Pantry. This amazing contribution will help us to feed our clients in need during these difficult times. We are grateful for the support from you congregation. It is heartwarming to know that you have our back. With you we are able to make a positive difference in many lives. Thank you again for always thinking of us.
 
The need continues, and any donations, of either funds that we turn into grocery cards, or canned and staple food items dropped off in our new, 24/7 outdoor collection box near the front entrance to the church, will be gratefully received.