Bending the Arc
"the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." - MLK
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Note: The ideas and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author's and should not be ascribed to the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes or its members. On August 5, 2021, we archived old blog posts. You can find the archive by clicking here.
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Raising Trans Awareness and LGBTQIA+ Inclusion with Authentic Conversations
CSA has partnered with the Arc of Fond du Lac and United for Diversity to bring the community a special program called, "Authentic Conversations: Conscious-Driven Decision Making to Enlighten and Evolve" with Dr. Elijah Nichols.
Dr. Nichols has helped others increase their Trans Awareness and elevate company morale without forcing change on company or culture or individual religious beliefs. All are invited to attend this in-person training session:
Thursday, June 1, 2023
8:00 - 9:00 Registration and Breakfast
9:00 - 10:30 Presentation
10:30 - 11:00 Questions & Conversations
Moraine Park Technical College
Fond du Lac, WI
Building O, Conference Center, Room O109C
As CSA is a major sponsor for this event, there is no cost to attend if you are a CSA affiliate. Contact Tracy Abler at email@example.com for the coupon code.
Authentic Conversations: Conscious-Driven Decision Making to Enlighten and Evolve – The Arc Fond du Lac (arcfdl.org)
Come energize your morning with others!
Remembering George Floyd – May 25
I vividly remember where I was the morning following the murder of George Floyd. I was working from home, physically and emotionally unable to focus on anything but the video (over and over again), the outcries of injustice, and the relentless feeling of pain, disbelief, and frustration that followed me for days. I also remember the first phone call I had with anyone that day. It was a coworker who merely agreed, “ya, how terrible” while hardly skipping a bit in her normal conversation that I was no longer able to listen to. I needed to find “my people” - others with the same emotion and need to take action. For weeks and months following, I continued to turn to those supporters, who are now my confidants, teachers, and treasured friends. These friends and I have been doing the work of telling the untold history of racism that was largely re-ignited May 25, 2020.
I think it is important to not only say his name, but to remember who George Floyd was. He was a man raised in a racially segregated and economically impoverished Houston neighborhood. He was a descendent of a formerly enslaved Black farmer, whose wealth was stripped away by the politics of white backlash. His mother grew up as one of 13 children, searching in vain for an escape from intergenerational poverty. His father was an inspiring musician with a weakness for alcohol and extramarital carousing. George himself struggled with drug addiction, frequent arrests, and a man whose muscular physical interior hid a gentle soul that battled with pain, anxiety, claustrophobia, and depression. Why did society and our criminal justice system fail to see the humanity of Mr. Floyd so badly? What have we been taught? Or maybe worse, what have we not been taught?
I co-lead a program called, The Humanity Project: Telling the Untold Story. We use videos, activities, and courageous conversations to help our participants see racism as a social construct; understand how forms of slavery and attacks on Black Americans have continued since the 13th Amendment, just in new forms and disguises; and have taken a hard look at discriminatory laws and practices that continue to create generations of wealth and education gaps and disproportionately criminalize Black men and women.
Nearly 40 CSA Sisters and Associates have participated in The Humanity Project since its inception in 2015. The 2022-2023 program year is coming to an end. Our final session is being hosted by Motherhouse Sisters in Founders Hall on June 6th. I look forward to this in-person interaction and am grateful to CSA for their steadfast work around racial justice and its intersecting forms of bias, prejudice, and injustice.
I have invited other Sisters and Associates to also share their experiences of George Floyd’s murder and their awareness of racism today. Here are some of their responses:
“George Floyd’s murder got national recognition because a bystander took action and filmed it on her phone. Ordinary people got a national movement started because they noticed and did something. It helped me realize that some of the seemingly insignificant things I notice and do can have repercussions. The few interactions I have had in the past couple of years are anything but spectacular, yet, I hope they have sent a small ripple into the Fond du Lac community.
"One example stands out. I was leaving St. Mary’s Church at noon one day and a Black bicycler caught my eye. I smiled and we greeted each other. As I reached the center of the street he turned around and asked me about the Church building. Then asked me to pray for him. ‘Yes’ I said, ‘but let’s get out of the middle of the street.’ He proceeded to sing a song before we prayed. Really, the song was a part of the prayer.” - Sister Josephine Goebel, CSA
“I live in Minneapolis and the area where George Floyd was murdered was very close to where my brother and his family live. I was going through a period of no immunity and was literally stuck in my home with a foreign exchange student from Kyrgyzstan during this time. My children were delivering groceries to me. The rest of my family however was very active. My son and his wife and young sons went down to the area to clean up the next day. That was what many of the residents were doing along with passing out water, food and other necessities. That area of uptown where George was murdered is now a food desert after this incident. There was a march down my street in protest and the picture of the murder of a friend of my daughter’s when he was sitting in a car with his girlfriend and young child in the back also flashed into my mind. We set up neighborhood watches on my street and exchanged phone numbers. I saw trucks and cars with out of state plates coming into our neighborhoods to create problems. Most of the people of Minneapolis were not violent. The city has calmed down, but there needs to be more education and mental health professionals going out on calls with the police or instead of them in many cases. I still pray that this horror makes a difference!” - CSA Associate, Lynn Barber
Read about the George Floyd Community of Care in Minneapolis.
“I particularly remembered how racism affects us at Mass on Mother's Day. I recognized many people who were there but when I asked myself who was missing, I remembered the mothers and their families at the border who were trying their best to preserve lives without shelter from the sun, food, water or bathrooms for their children. We continue as a society to kneel on the necks of those who cannot defend themselves. Like George Floyd, their name is Jesus.” - CSA Associate, Mary Gorske
“When I think back on this event, I recall discussions with two black women at my workplace who were not faring great in the aftermath of George Floyd's murder. It's the 21st century, yet there we were, the same horrific record continued to play... They were both challenged by a sense of isolation: in many workplaces, politics and religion are taboo topics. Since no one at work was talking about George Floyd, they felt their white co-workers either were not affected by this murder, or perhaps didn't care. And before I reached out to the only black person on my team, I hesitated momentarily, unsure if I should. Does a black person really want to hear from a pasty, middle-aged white woman right now?
"I recall my anger from the news footage, which morphed into incredulity and sorrow like the inside of a lava lamp. If a police officer really believes their life is in danger, they don't keep their hands in their pockets. A jury agreed." - CSA Associate Kelly Robe
Kelly also shares the instructions on one of the signs at the George Floyd Memorial Square that continue to be a good reminder for her, and should be for us all:
- Decenter yourself and come to listen, learn, mourn, and witness. Remember you are here to support, not to be supported.
- Seek to contribute to the energy of the space, rather than drain it. Bring your own processing to other white folks so that you will not harm BIPOC [black and indigenous people of color.]
- Visitors are encouraged to be ‘mindful’ of whether their “volume, pace, and movements are supporting or undermining” efforts to ‘decenter’ themselves and urges them to not take pictures of people without their consent.
- If you witness white folks doing problematic things, speak up with compassion to take the burden off of Black folks and our siblings of color whenever appropriate. Seek to engage rather than escalate, so that it can be a learning movement rather than a disruption.
Developing Mutual Relationships through the “Art of Storytelling”
Our CSA journey calls us to “strengthen the bond that unites us” by committing to develop mutual relationships through education and awareness of culture, history and politics. As such…
You are invited to attend the Thelma Sadoff Center for the Arts, “Art of Storytelling” series beginning May 19th!
The Art of Storytelling is a series of diverse storytellers in our community sharing their life experiences and stories from their cultures. CSA is sponsoring this series.
In honor of AAPI (Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander) Heritage month, the May 19th speaker is Ger Xiong. Ger will share her experiences growing up as a Hmong girl being born in a refugee camp, coming to the U.S., and how she sees the cultural changes.
The series will continue the third Friday of each month, May through November, with a start time of 11 am in Thelma’s Café 1906, 51 Sheboygan Street. This is a free, in-person event, and open to the public (please share widely).
More details here: https://www.thelmaarts.org/event/art-of-storytelling-asian/
Celebrating AAPI Heritage Month
In a country where hate crimes have increased over 100% against Asian Americans from 2020 to 2021, it is important we acknowledge and honor May as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month. The month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.
The Federal Asian Pacific American Council (FAPAC) announced this year’s theme is “Advancing Leaders Through Opportunity.”
The Library of Congress, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and others join in paying tribute to the generations of Asian and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) who have enriched American’s history and are instrumental in its future success. Visit https://www.asianpacificheritage.gov/ to engage in the rich art, music and culture of our AAPI siblings.
CONCERNING LOCAL NEWS STORY:
As outrage grows over Wausau teacher who used racial slurs, Asian community demands action
The Freedom to Vote Act
The Declaration For American Democracy coalition is circulating a Freedom to Vote Act sign-on letter that they will send to Hill offices and the press around the introduction. CSA has joined this effort by signing onto the Freedom to Vote Act letter.
The Freedom to Vote Act will finally take action against some of the largest issues plaguing our democracy. It is a critical transformative legislative package that would create national standards to protect our freedom to vote, get big money out of politics, combat parisian election subversion, and guarantee that congressional districts are drawn to give fair representation to all.
Actions may include a Call-In Day, a Social Media Storm, and Lobby Visits. Please watch your email and social media platforms to learn how you can join in activities to lift up this bill. Your organizations can also sign on by filling out this form.
Supporting our trans, nonbinary, and gender-expansive siblings
March 31 marked International Day of Transgender Visibility. The CSA Leadership Team and JPIC Office joined other congregations across the country in supporting our trans, nonbinary, and gender-expansive siblings by signing this statement honoring Trans Day of Visibility.
For others stirred to learn more, support or act, please consider the following:
Learn: Check if elected officials are attacking LGBTQ+ rights in your state legislature with this nationwide anti-trans bill tracker: Trans Legislation Tracker
Support: The Trevor Project, Transgender Law Center, New Ways Ministry, or another organization supporting transgender individuals
Evaluate: Assess your religious community’s capacity to fully welcome trans folks, including internal attitudes, behaviors, policies, and having gender-neutral restrooms.
Act: Consider signing on as an individual, congregation or organization to the declaration: “Beloved by God”
The Church Addresses Colonialism and the Doctrine of Discovery
On March 30, 2023, the Dicasteries for Culture and Education and for Promoting Integral Human Development issued a joint statement on the “Doctrine of Discovery.” The USCCB added a statement in response to include saying, “We welcome the statement’s renewed repudiation and condemnation of the violence and injustices committed against Native and Indigenous peoples, as well as the Church’s ongoing support for their dignity and human rights.” The full statement can be found here.
CSA is proud to collaborate with Pilgrim United Church of Christ, the Alliance for Justice and Brothertown Indian Nation to bring a special Blanket Exercise to Fond du Lac, WI on Friday, April 21st from 5-8 pm at Pilgrim UCC. A blanket exercise is an experiential group activity that leads participants through 500+ years of Indigenous history that highlights the relationships with European explorers, colonial settlers, and the U.S. federal and state government. Participants will learn more about the Doctrine of Discovery and how the attack on indigenous culture has also affected the environment. Brothertown Indian Nation will be providing the meal and a free will offering will be taken. Registration is free, but space is limited.
Register here to participate: https://forms.gle/dS7FnM7dvAQXArPy5
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