By the Rev. Alice Anacheka-Nasemann, minister at the Unitarian Church of Marlborough & Hudson
Last spring, when my 13-year-old daughter learned about the murders of the 9 African American men and women shot during a Bible study in Charleston, following in the wake of a string of highly publicized shootings of African Americans, including the deaths of 18 year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson and 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland, she turned to me with a mixture of heartbreak and determination on her face and said, “I feel compelled to do something.” She was able to take action and find her voice this fall by participating in Black Lives Matter vigils organized by members of the congregation I serve, the Unitarian Church of Marlborough & Hudson.
Many have asked us, don’t “All Lives Matter?” The answer is a resounding, unequivocal “yes!” Of course all lives matter! It is precisely because we believe that all lives matter that we feel compelled to stand in witness to the injustice and racism that still exist in our country today.
We stand for Black Lives Matter because 38% of black children live in poverty in one of the wealthiest nations of all time. (Pew Research Center)
We stand for Black Lives Matter because people of color make up 60% of the prison population, but only 30% of the overall population – and because African Americans are 20% more likely to be sent to prison with a sentence that is 10% longer than white American convicted of the very same crime. (Center for American Progress: “The Top Ten Most Startling Facts about People of Color and Criminal Justice in the United States, by Sophia Kerby)
We stand for Black Lives Matter because black drivers are 3 times more likely to be searched during a traffic stop than white drivers (but less likely to be carrying contraband) and nearly 4 times as likely to experience threats or the use of force in their interactions with police officers. (ACLU’s Racial Justice Project.)
Our church was founded in 1847 by abolitionists who worked tirelessly to dismantle the evil institution of slavery. Today we are called by their example to bear witness to continuing racial injustice as we work to build a world in which truly all lives are treated as if they matter. To learn more about our vigils, contact the church office: 978-562-9180 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit our Facebook Page (The Unitarian Church of Marlborough and Hudson).