Standing on the Side of Love

A Bridge, Not a Wedge: Why I am Going to the March on Washington Tomorrow

Our job is to use love, anger, and imagination to show where to go, and laughter to keep us alive while we get there.  And we must not use laughter to make us endure what courage can change.  Mab Segrest

  • I believe in honoring my elders and those who came before me.
  • I believe in expressing and embodying gratitude.
  • I believe if we do not connect with our whole past (the good, the bad, the ugly) we will stall in circles, rather than making lasting change.
  • I want to be one of the people there who remembers the radical Dr. King, not just the palpable one.  The Dr. King who who criticized the war in Viet Nam, who was assassinated not after giving the I Have a Dream speech, but after speaking up on behalf of the Memphis Sanitation Workers — a much more dangerous inter-connection between class and race.
  • I want my teenaged daughter to connect to something longer, wider, and larger than herself.  I want history to be alive for her.  I want to be with her when that is happening.
  • I have the money and time to do it this time – I haven’t always and I can’t count on it happening again.
  • I want to prove I am not too old to take an overnight bus ride to our nation’s capitol to show up for something I believe in.
  • I want to feed the intercultural and anti-racism work that has been making (or re-making) a home in me after some slumbering.
  • I believe the civil rights movement is not over, but continues in a myriad of forms, including the struggle for racial equity and justice; including the struggle for a fair and compassionate immigration system and sensibility in this nation; including the struggle for marriage equality across the land; including full citizenship across all gender identification.
  • I want to stand on the side of love as a Unitarian Universalist in my yellow LOVE t-shirt.
me and a friend at local Pride march, 2011
me and a friend at local Pride march, 2011
  • I want honor the Unitarian Universalists who violently lost their lives – Rev. James Reeb, Viola Luizzo – in the civil rights struggle.
  • As a white person, I want to be present – not only to show up and get counted, but to starve the luxury that comes from white privilege that says this work belongs to others and to simultaneously feed that deep knowing of just how urgent this work is.
  • As queer person, I intend to show up when it comes to racial and economic justice because I intend to have the same mutual expectation of people of color, but can’t unless I walk the walk first.
  • As a seminarian, I want to be present – not only to show up, but to be porous to the crowd, to the collective, to the voice, that if there is potential to be transformed, I am there to welcome it.
  • I want to engage with people across skin hues, racial categories, ethnic background, and faith traditions, throughout the gender and sexual orientation continuums: honoring them and myself, honoring their communities and mine.
  • I want to build a world like the one described so eloquently by a Southern white, lesbian anti-racist hero of mine, Mab Segrest.  In this context, she is talking about the connections and intersections among race, class, and the queer community.  For me, this is the vaster Beloved Community:

We need a [Beloved Community] that is by necessity anti-racist, feminist and democratic; a politic that does not cut us off from other people, but that unites us with them in the broadest possible movement. … What I really mean is a more genuine democracy, where the citizens of our country have more direct access to all the decisions that affects us, not only in the political but also in the economic arena. …What I mean is a less lonely society, where we think collectively about resources for the common good, rather than struggling individually against each other for material and psychic survival.  What I mean is a more humane society, where our driving motive is abundant life for all rather than increasing extravagance for a few and suffering for many more…. This re-energized movement will be, in Suzanne Pharr’s eloquent terms, “not a wedge, but a bridge;” not a point of division, but of expansion and connection.  To those who insist on denying us our full humanity, we will insist on the sacred humanity of all people.  A bridge, not a wedge.  A bridge, not a wedge. (excerpt, “A Bridge, Not a Wedge,” Mab Segrest, Memoirs of a Race Traitor, South End Press, 1994)

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