Justice For All: Vote With Your Life

11/11/16

Let's all take a collective whew, shall we?  That was a doozy of an election with, as everyone is saying, two of the most disliked candidates in U.S. history.  We're now left with a nation terrifyingly divided, and I think we're all freaking out more than a little bit over that reality.  But no matter how you voted or how you feel about the results, the fact is that the vote you cast every single day of your life counts a heck of a lot more than what you write on a ballot every two or four years.

Can I say that again?  You never stop voting.

You vote with your life, as do I.  Every day we wake up and breathe and eat and interact and buy and listen and talk and are moved to action... every day we cast a vote for the society we want to live in.  That hasn't changed and it never will.

If you are concerned about the implications that this election will have on minorities and the marginalized, you're not alone here.  I'm burdened too.  But as I told my black son (who knew I was troubled over the outcome but didn't know details of why): there are still a LOT of good people in this country.  So I think we're going to be okay.

Below I've compiled a list of ways to keep casting your vote to make this a nation of justice for all.



Abortion

Becoming a foster care provider - the need is so great that in some states children spend several nights in the CPS office before they can be placed in a home. Every state is in need of more families to stand in the gap until reunification is possible.

Adopt - there are over 100,000 children waiting to be adopted in our nation. There are 5 million Christians.  Let that sink in. Visit adoptuskids.org for information on both adoption and foster care.

Volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center - ask the staff what they need most and take it upon yourself to make it happen. (The part about asking about the need is key.)

Relationships - intentionally build a friendship with a single mom in your neighborhood or church, offer to give them a break now and then, offer your resources to help with the needs they may have.


Immigrants and Refugees

Learn a new language - I'm still embarrassed that I can't speak Spanish and I'm determined to remedy that in my lifetime. Try to learn the most used second language of your area: Spanish, Arabic, etc. Even if you never get fluent, the effort is a powerful statement.

Spend time at a refugee center - many cities have one; listen to someone's story, eat a meal with them, seek to understand and offer solidarity to them.  My friend Erica does this in South Texas and I'm always moved to love when she writes about it.

Start a parent welcome center at your kids' school - extend a gesture of open arms, teach a weekly ESL class, offer community resources they may not know about.  D.L. Mayfield put feet to this idea.

Give financially - We Welcome Refugees is a wonderful way to do it, as is International Justice Mission who investigates and protects the treatment of migrant workers.


Muslim-American Advocacy

Build relationships - strike up a conversation with the mom in the head covering.  Talk to Muslim students on your college campus.  Attend any Muslim/Christian dialogue event in your area - universities are popular places to find them.  My son's school has an annual Multicultural night, and the Muslim families in particular pull out ALL the stops to share the beauty of their heritage.  If your school doesn't have something like that, why not organize it?

muslimadvocates.org - end profiling, strengthen charities, counter hate.


LGBTQ Safety

Listen - you know someone who is gay. Your aunt? A guy you went to high school with?  Initiate a conversation with them ONLY to hear them out, not to convince them that they're wrong (if you think they are).  Listen to their experience and to their feelings.  Ask them if they've ever been harassed or bullied; ask them if they feel safe.

Make your church a safe space - because all people should be safe and welcome in a church. Heaven knows us straight folks don't agree on everything, but we generally manage to still be warm and welcoming to each other despite our differences. My parish, like many, has brochures for parents called "Always Our Children" on display, containing a pastoral message for parents of LGBTQ children that reinforces the importance of their parental love and commitment.  The presence of a gay-straight parishioner alliance can send a positive message of welcome and inclusion.  And for mercy's sakes, if you know someone who is LGBTQ in your church, make it your personal mission to make them feel included and loved.

Volunteer - with or donate to Trevor Project, which works toward suicide prevention among LGBTQ youth.

Speak up - this should go without saying, but just in case: don't let anyone speak condescendingly or homophobically about LGBTQs in your presence.  Interrupt them, correct them, tell them you don't find that funny, accurate, whatever.  It will be awkward, but it will also combat a slow fall into a culture of hate.  I'm not saying defend the homosexual act if its against your conscience; I'm saying defend the dignity of your fellow human beings.


Capital Punishment and Mass Incarceration

Read - Executing Grace (on capital punishment), The New Jim Crow, and Just Mercy (mass incarceration)

Watch - the documentary 13th (on Netflix now), Women and Mass Incarceration (on YouTube)

Donate - through the Equal Justice Initiative you can give financial donations to help the wrongly accused have access to attorneys that they can't afford


Black/White Relations

Find (or start!) a local group to be involved in - chapters of Black Lives Matter can be found in many states, as can chapters of Showing Up For Racial Justice, where whites are mobilizing against white supremacy.  Join the NAACP (yes, whites can join).

Host a roundtable discussion - invite black and white friends to your home, discuss the concerns of the black community, address questions of the white community, and have a time of safe and respectful dialogue and learning

Follow black bloggers and influencers - like Austin Channing Brown, My Brown Baby, and Pass the Mic podcast

Read anything by Dr. John M. Perkins - here's one to start, Dream with Me: Race, Love, and the Struggle We Must Win

Speak Up - Racist jokes aren't funny.  Trivializing the expressed Black experience isn't funny.  Don't let anyone get the impression that you allow those sentiments in your presence.  Don't stay silent or avert your eyes.  You care too much about people made in the image of God to not speak up.


Torture

Sign petitions and take action - with Amnesty International


More Justice for Marginalized

Get involved in soup kitchens and homeless shelters - providing meals is great but more importantly, get to know people. Spend time there, sit down and eat dinner together, let your kids run amok and bring people joy.  All too often our efforts in this area are restricted to meeting the physical need of hunger, when dignity and human connection are equally as (if not arguably more) important.

Advocate for fair housing in your community - start by reading the book Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City.  This piece by D.L. Mayfield in Portland is a helpful read too.

My friend Lindsy is rallying around this cause in Miami and is doing an inspiring job speaking up for her community.  If the cycle of eviction and/or gentrification is hurting the marginalized in your community, I know she'd love to be a resource for you.  Follow her journey on Instagram.

Call your local representatives - we've lost a sense of impact here, not because it's not powerful but because we stopped believing it to be. Let your voice be heard. Find out how here. (Calling is apparently much more effective than writing, I'm told.)


Other Resources

Be intentional about the voices you surround yourself with.  There is so much noise online, so much input from every source under the sun.  The sites below are ones I have found helpful, inspiring, and give me a sense of hope in the fight for justice.

wagingnonviolence.org

sojourners.com

Keep voting, every day.  Our country is already great because of you.

Someday, the light will shine like a sun through my skin & they will say, 'what have you done with your life?' & though there are many moments I think I'll remember, in the end, I will be proud to say, I was one of us.

(Brian Andreas, Storypeople)

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