I speak today as the Director of the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights and Social Justice at Union Theological Seminary, the Co-Chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, a biblical scholar, anti-poverty activist, Presbyterian clergyperson, a mother and daughter, and a white Christian woman.
My heart is broken — broken for the families who lost loved ones in the racist attacks in El Paso and Dayton this past weekend, broken for the people of El Paso and Ciudad Juarez and all the border towns who endure systemic racism, poverty, and policy violence on a daily basis, broken for the 140 million poor and low-income Americans who suffer from systemic racism, poverty, militarism, ecological devastation and the distorted moral narrative and actions of white Christian nationalism.
We released our “Pastoral Letter on the El Paso Shootings” today because in times such as these we must call our society — the President, the Congress, movement leaders, faith leaders and all people of conscience — to repent, to mourn, and to build a powerful fusion movement to challenge white nationalism, to challenge policy violence, and to realize a society that ensures just immigration, an end to voter suppression, an end to racism, an end to gun violence and militarism, the promotion of human rights and democracy, health care, housing, living wage jobs, decent education, clean water and air for all.
In this letter, we call on the President to stop stoking the fires of white nationalism and policy violence. We call on Congress to take immediate action to stop the racist attacks on immigrants and to act to ensure voting rights, gun reform, immigration reform, ensure good jobs and living wages and pass an omnibus bill to address the needs of the 140 million poor and low-income Americans. We call on movements to not return to our silos but instead build a fusion movement. We call on those who have embraced the lies of racism and white nationalism to recognize our fear and stop any attempt of corporations and those in power to pit us against each other and blame the poor and immigrants for society’s problems. We call on faith leaders to break the silence of violence and racism.
In the words of the beautiful song by movement theomusicologist, Ms. Yara Allen, that has become a central song for the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival: “Somebody has been hurting our people, and it has gone on far too long and we won’t be silent anymore.” We commit to breaking the silence and building a movement not just for a moment but for the long-haul.