Sunday, December 14, 2014

Standing Up With Love for Black Lives In McHenry County

Two members of the Elkhorn UU Fellowship (sorry I forgot names) Zenna McFadden and Randy Jasper.

There were bigger doings elsewhere.  In New York City, for instance tens of thousands—numbers not available as I write this—gathered and marched for the National March Against Police Brutality about the same time on Saturday.  Another has been called by some of the old Civil Rights leadership like the Rev. Al Sharpton who may have been feeling bypassed by an assertive new generation on the streets, will be held in Washington, DC and feature family members of recent police executions.  Scores of demonstrations were expected around the country and many would include take-it-to-the-streets guerrilla tactics to disrupt traffic and going-about-business-as-usual including die-ins and other civil disobedience.  Somewhere someone may have gotten rowdy.  Somewhere militarized police may have moved in.  

Cheryl Niemo, Sandy Eckert, Pam Sourellis.

But in the largely White, heavily Republican wilds of McHenry County, Illinois, fifteen mostly elder White folks gathered on a traffic island at an intersection on the fringes of the city of McHenry, just down the road from the Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Congregation whose members called for a mid-day vigil.  Some folk had been merrily hanging greens and festifizing the church for the Church School holiday pageant today and all of the other celebrations of the season.  Other members traveled from all points of the county.  Three wonderful folks from the Elkhorn UU Fellowship drove down to join us.
Conditions were just fine for a December vigil in northern Illinois.  Temperatures hovered in the mid-40’s.  The sky was leaden and there was the remnant of a morning fog hanging in the air as we arrived for our one hour witness at 12:30.

Judy Mullins, Ray and Sue Eberhardt.

Traffic on Crystal Lake and Bull Valley Roads was brisk.  I suppose a lot of folks were on their way to Christmas shopping or one of the many holiday events being held all over the area.  A fair number of cars had large, fresh Christmas trees strapped to the roof.  But for the absence of any pedestrian bustle you could be tempted to start singing Silver Bells or some such holiday standard.
But we had other business.  Representing that, even here, Black Lives Matter and sending the message that a culture of violence, repression, fear cannot be tolerated.  We stood acknowledge our White skin privilege and the safety it affords us, but refuse to let it silence us.  We stood for justice, equity, and compassion.  We were Standing on the Side of Love.  

The Old Man.

The response of the folks whizzing by was mixed but more positive than not.  We got a lot of honks of encouragement, thumbs up, peace signs, and friendly waves.  But we also got our share of middle finger salutes, snarls, and signs of barely contained rage.  There was more of that than I saw during our Marriage Equality Vigils last year or even at immigration and peace vigils that we were part of at the height of the Iraq War.  Racism runs deep, and more and more does not bother to cloak itself.
That’s why, as little as it was, the one hour out of our day was important.  Our voices, for once, were not silent.  May they never be silent again.

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