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Why We Still Stand in Weekly VigilFergusonOutsideVigilLargeCrowdSept23CROPPED
Since the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson early August of 2014, members of Eliot Unitarian Chapel and people from the greater community have stood in a weekly Vigil for Hope and Healing.  Why do we still stand in vigil?  Has so little changed? Frankly, yes. Despite our important conversations and efforts these past many months, little has changed to deconstruct the systemic racism that grips our metropolitan area.

We stand in quiet vigil to publicly witness our opposition to the racism and hate that is still so entrenched in our region. We stand in hope that continued work, from each of us, can help heal us all from this disease of racism. 

Most of our communities, in different forms and to different degrees, sustain systems of inequality that demonstrate black lives do not matter: unequal education; limited access to health care; declining public health rankings; housing laws that concentrate poverty; low-wage employment and widening economic inequality; inadequate public transportation and the public refusal to adequately fund the services for these sectors in order to eliminate structural racism in our society. These systems of inequality quietly protect white people, including most of us at Eliot Chapel, and shelter us from understanding that this oppression hurts our neighbors of color and, ultimately, diminishes our own humanity.

Can any caring white person find this acceptable?

We strive for a just society ordered by law, not chaos, and law enforcement has a vital, and difficult role serving this goal. However, as people of faith who profess that every person has inherent worth and dignity, we stand in opposition to the historic oppression of black people, including the role of law enforcement in this oppression. Decreasing racial profiling of entire communities and of individuals, as well as de-escalating the use of deadly force, would be two immediate steps law enforcement could take to rebuild trust and save lives, including the lives of police officers often harmed by escalating violence. De-escalating violence by all would help us build more loving communities.

Those of us who are white have largely ignored our role perpetuating racism. In America, our status as the dominant culture declares that our white lives matter. We need no signage. And no one else who is NOT in the dominant culture, who is not white, ever forgets that our white lives matter. How loudly, how publicly, and how personally will each of US proclaim that THEIR black, brown, red and yellow lives matter?

In his summons to Selma fifty years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., called out to us:  “We have witnessed an eruption of the disease of racism which seeks to destroy all America. It is fitting that all Americans help to bear the burden,” This disease of racism still infects us today.

 So we still stand in quiet vigil. We proclaim Black Lives Matter. We stand with all the people of Greater Ferguson and St. Louis. Together we strive to build a just and loving community for all.  Come.  Stand by our side.  Stand on the Side of Love.

Social Justice in Action Team
Eliot Unitarian Chapel
Kirkwood, Missouri
[Recommended reading online: 
www.forwardthroughferguson.org]

Vigils are held every Tuesday evening at 6:00 pm on Eliot's front lawn.

Last Published: August 31, 2016 12:48 PM