UUSJ Newsletter - Winter 2014
Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice
An affiliate of the Chicago Area Unitarian Universalist Council
Andrew T. Fisher, Editor & Communications Director
1448 East 52nd Street, PM Box 144
Chicago, IL 60615
Phone: 773-595-4921 / E-mail: uusj@sbcglobal.net
Web site: http://uusforsocialjustice.org/


Chair’s Corner:
A new year a new beginning and now time for Jerry Parker to become the Past Chair, myself Doug Erickson to step up to the Chair and A. J. Segneri is now the Chair Elect. We thank Jerry and A. J. for their contributions to social justice and the UU spirit.
Proud to announce a new UUSJ task force “Prisons and Restorative Justice.”   Much of the task force activity initiated from the book The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander.  Prison population in the United States has grown from 100,000 in 1970s to 3.1 million in 2014.    The United States has more people in prison than China, Russia, Iran, or Iraq.  The book details how the laws, police, courts, and the prisons themselves systematically target minorities and poor people.  As UUs for social justice we welcome the new task force and look forward to future activities.
UUSJ supports five task forces (reports below):

As Chair of UUSJ my goal is to bring a better web presence to these groups, to have more active websites to publicize and coordinate events, activities, among UUs.
The huge waste, devouring of natural
resources and the destruction of our environment, the work for Peace in the many conflicts happening in the world, the massive inequality not only in the US but in the world (needless to say the inability to provide enough affordable housing), and the need for multiracial unity.
There’s a lot of work to done. I look forward to working with you in 2014.

UUSJ Winter Quarter Meeting
First Unitarian Church of Chicago
5650 S. Woodlawn Avenue, on Sunday, March 16, 2014, at 2 PM

UUSJ Economic Justice and Homelessness Task Force Report

    
Since the last UUSJ newsletter this task force has had two Action Alerts.  In October we wrote to our U.S. Senators to express our opposition to fast track authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).  At the start of this month we wrote to our members of the Illinois General Assembly to support Domestic Workers Bill of Rights legislation.  You can find copies of those Action Alerts, and any other still active ones, for the current Congress and General Assembly, on the UUSJ web site (see heading).  Follow the Action Alerts link to get to them.  At the recent meeting of this task force we approved an Action Alert, targeting Gov. Quinn, seeking the restoration of homelessness prevention funding, which was cut back when federal funds were made available for that purpose, but those federal funds are no longer available.  That Action Alert should come out sometime before the end of January.  If you are not on our Action Alert network, but would like to join (you get to identify the issue areas you would like to receive Action Alerts on) please write to uusj@sbcglobal.net, to be sent a copy of the sign-up form.

At its meeting on January 11 the Task Force on Economic Justice and Homelessness approved a Home and Hope Booster grant nomination submitted by a member of the UU Community Church of Park Forest, who serves as an evening shift PADS coordinator for South Suburban PADS.  The nomination was in support of South Suburban PADS.  That organization provides a wide range of services for the homeless, including housing, health care, help finding employment, and addiction assistance.  The organization has 77 supportive housing apartments, which help the residents make the transition to independent living.

About 20 percent of the fairly small membership of the UU Community Church of Park Forest (UUCCPF) is directly involved with helping South Suburban PADS each year.  The church’s PADS volunteers include 16 members, spread over three shifts, who assist with an emergency overnight shelter for 50 to 60 men once (or twice) a month (on the second and, where applicable, fifth Mondays of the month), as well as four members who cook dinner to serve on those nights during the cold half of the year.  The church’s team does intake interviews, including using a breathalyzer, prepares and serves the meals, hands out clothing and toiletries and arranges bedding.  A hot breakfast and sack lunches are provided each morning that the volunteers serve.  This church’s members provide just under 550 hours of service per PADS season.  The UUCCPF also sets aside an annual food budget of $1,500 for South Suburban PADS and has an annual fund raiser that typically nets about $400 for the PADS organization.  In addition, several church members will attend the South Suburban PADS annual fund raiser.  Members of UUCCPF also donate significant amounts of clothing and toiletries to South Suburban PADS.  We congratulate the members of the UUCCPF for their service to and financial support of the South Suburban PADS!

If you are not already someone who has pledged to give $25 or more, twice a year, in support of Home and Hope Booster grants, I encourage you to join us.  You receive the details regarding the approved grant nominee and what the nominating UU congregation is doing to support that organization before you are asked to send in your semi-annual contribution.  To sign-up you can send an email, with the Subject line “Home and Hope Booster grant supporter”, with your name, ground mail address, and congregation, to uusj@sbcglobal.net.

Two of our task force members have agreed to check the data on our current If YOU or Someone You Know resource sheets for correctness, along with providing any suggested changes, such as additions or deletions.  Once that information is submitted, at the end of March, we will be preparing, printing, and distributing, the 2014 updates to those resource sheets.

The next presentation of our Move to Amend workshop will take place on Sunday, March 30, 2014, from 2 to roughly 3 p.m., at People’s Church, 941 W. Lawrence Ave., Chicago, IL 60640, in Molly’s Café, aka Room 3 1/2 (you can take the west elevator to the fourth floor, then walk down ½ a flight). 

The next meeting of this task force will take place in that same room, during the 60 to 90 minutes following the workshop.  All are welcome.
Allan Lindrup, task force Chair, uusj@sbcglobal.net or 773-595-4921

UUSJ Environmental Task Force Report

Congregational Reports:
First Unitarian Church of Chicago:
They successfully held a fundraiser to buy a new commercial dishwasher, and even raised extra funds to help with the purchase of permanent plates, cups etc.  As the UUSC was not doing much to promote access to clean water for all people, they shifted one of their environmental justice projects from that to global warming and are now choosing the organization(s) they will work with. 
Second Unitarian Church of Chicago:  Is starting its own Green Sanctuary committee.  They’ve held two meetings and are having an energy audit before seeking to enter the UUA’s green sanctuary program.
Beverly:  Beverly Unitarian Church is continuing its periodic collections of household hazardous waste. A winter farmers market has been scheduled for March 1, 2014.  Evanston:  We have a new chest of drawers for recycling hazardous electric, many other small items, and old XMAS lights.  Andrew Fisher is new Chair of the Green Sanctuary Committee.
Since the Fall UUSJ Newsletter, the Environmental task force has issued two action alerts: (1) in January, 2014, a Letter to Illinois Senators and Representatives urging them to update Illinois Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) early in 2014 reflecting many changes to keep Illinois on track to use more renewable energy, and (2) in December, 2013 a letter to Illinois Department of Natural Resources pointing out many major inconsistencies between their draft regulations for Hydraulic Fracturing and the regulatory act itself.
Since the last UUSJ newsletter, we have distributed two educational inserts: (1) “Recycling Update”, and
(2) Auto Power Alternatives: Electric, Hybrid and Solar: -- Part 1: Overview.”
     Next meeting:
On Sunday, March 16. 13, 2014, at 1:00 PM in the First Unitarian of Chicago, 5650 S. Woodlawn, just before the Winter Quarter UUSJ Board meeting at 2 PM instead of at the LaSalle Street Metra Station at LaSalle and Congress.
With any questions, contact:
Andrew T. Fisher – Chair
847-492-1832 or fishorgn1580@att.net

UUSJ Peace Task Force Report

The Peace Task Force met 1-11-14 to discuss plans for 2014. After discussion we agreed on the following points: (1) we will have a Tax Day action and we will attend a Peace Day ceremony, (2) we will read Real Peace Real Security, a book written by Dr. Sharon Walsh and discuss it at our next meeting, (3) we will plan a Walk for Peace between consulate offices in Chicago if we can get at least 10 people to participate, and (4) we are exploring legislation  that could reduce US sale of arms, military supplies for war abroad.  Our next meeting will be 5/3/14 at 2 PM in Third Unitarian Church, Chicago, and all CAUUC church members and friends are invited to attend.
Contact Gene Horcher for details,
phone 773-561-5296 or e-mail horcher@att.net.

UUSJ Prisons and Restorative Justice Task Force Report

Mass incarceration in the U.S. presents barriers to racial justice, income equality, efforts to reduce community violence and family violence, and the health of the beloved community. The Prisons and Restorative Justice Task Force works to 1) educate UUs and the community to the injustices and interconnections of the Prison Industrial Complex, child welfare practices, zero tolerance policies in schools, and corporate oppression; 2) engage members in public advocacy to change destructive policy; 3) explore ways to offer concrete assistance to those impacted by incarceration and their families through volunteering and donations; and 4) build connections between UU congregations and prisoners, former prisoners and families of prisoners.

Chicago area UUs joined in the UUA Common Read The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.  Group discussions of the book built momentum, and we benefited from the revelations of The House I Live In, a documentary that illustrates how the “war on drugs” operates as a “slow-moving holocaust” devastating low-income African-American and Latino communities. We engaged in prisoner advocacy through the Community Renewal Society and Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers (CLAIM). In April 2013 the Unitarian Church of Evanston (UCE) invited 2U member Megan Selby to teach a workshop on the Prison Industrial Complex. About 40 attended, including Jenny Peek from the First Unitarian Church of Hobart. Most expressed interest in supporting systemic change and in helping prisoners and their families directly.

UCE hosted a three-part fall series, Prison Injustice: What We Need to Know and What We Can Do. The forums focused on barriers to employment, restorative justice programs, and the impact of incarceration on children and families. About 40 participants attended each event, from the First, Second and Third Unitarian Churches of Chicago, North Shore Unitarian Church, First Unitarian Church of Hobart, and UCE. Speakers from the Howard Area Community Center, CLAIM’s Visible Voices peer support group, and the Community Renewal Society’s FORCE (Fighting to Overcome Records and Create Equality) presented Getting Past the “Ex”: How Former Prisoners Face the Job Market. We had pizza from Lou Malnati’s, which hires former prisoners. Members agreed to assist young men preparing for employment through mentoring, tutoring, and donations of shoes and portfolios. Restorative Justice: What is it? Does it work? featured peace circles led by Restorative Justice Evanston’s Youth Program and by Project NIA, which runs peace circles and hip-hop workshops through the Circles and Ciphers program. Members signed up to volunteer for the Evanston program and Project NIA’s Families in Touch, which provides rides for family members to visit girls incarcerated in the Warrenville juvenile prison. Dads, Moms and Kids, the Unseen Impact of Incarceration featured a mother from CLAIM’s Visible Voices group and her son, an expert on children of incarcerated parents from the Barr-Harris Children’s Grief Center, a formerly incarcerated father from the FORCE program, and a mother who served her sentence at the Women’s Treatment Center with her baby as an alternative to prison, and who is now employed and thriving. Each forum presented volunteer opportunities in addition to those mentioned above, including Chicago Books to Women in Prison and the letter writing program of Bethel AME in Evanston. UCE raised $1,333 through its shared offering for the Community Renewal Society and $1,206 for Chicago Books to Women in Prison.
The team is planning spring events including film screenings and legislative advocacy. We post articles on human rights and prisons, event updates, and requests for advocacy action, on the Facebook Group for Unitarian Church of Evanston’s Peace and Justice Program; we hope you will “Like” it.  

Members of 2U, UCE and Beverly Community Church are exploring creating a project that would engage prisoners and organize free-world members to work for major systemic change, building a UU presence inside Illinois prisons. Reverend Karen Hutt, Community Minister for the Beverly Unitarian Church, has served as a minister in prisons and jails in Illinois and Wisconsin, and other members have volunteered in prisons and jails, written to prisoners, and taught workshops on the Prison Industrial Complex. We will work over the next year to develop the project, which we envision strengthening the “major social movement” that Michelle Alexander calls for to challenge the injustice of America’s prison nation.
− Gail Smith and Sarah Vanderwicken

Unitarian Universalist Multiracial Unity Action Caucus (UUMUAC) Report

Report from the Unitarian Universalist Multiracial Unity Action Caucus, January 2014 – Covering Activities, October 2013 – January 2014
Dr. Finley C. Campbell, Member, The Executive Committee and Scribe

     We began this sequence of activities with an Executive Meeting held in October 2013 at First Unitarian Church.  Present were Jerry Parker, Allan Lindrup, A. J. Segneri, Matthew Stephens and myself.  The agenda included many items.  Three stand out – first, our approval of a proposal by AJ for a nature of racism conference in November, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of what I called the foundation stone of UUMUAC, the International Committee Against Racism (INCAR), second, our approval of a proposal by Finley (that’s me) to create a first draft of a pamphlet or document explaining how white members of the rank and file – workers, students, and professionals -- are hurt by anti-black racism, and finally a proposal to update our UUMUAC brochure.  In addition, we came up with criteria for non-UU folks who would want to join UUMUAC

     Here is an overall picture of our nature of racism conference held
November 1, 3, and 6: It was called “THE NATURE OF RACISM– An Open Forum in Three Sessions” and was co-sponsored by the Denominational Affairs Committee of First U, The Foundation for a United Front, as well as the Unitarian Universalist Multiracial Unity Action Caucus (UUMUAC) of Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice.

Session #1 was called “Racism in the 19th and 20th Century – The Journey to Memphis, Tennessee”.  This was a showing of the documentary, A JOURNEY TO MEMPHIS, featuring Dr. Finley C. Campbell and members from his class called “An Introduction to the Afro-American Intellectual and Cultural Tradition.”  The film dealt with a wide variety of Afro-American historical and cultural phenomena in Memphis, shaped by Dr. Campbell’s comments on the multiracial nature of that phenomenon.  Scenes included a trip to Beale Street, the Civil Rights Museum, and Alex Haley’s home.   Six people attended the showing, with a discussion about multiracial unity and the black experience. 

     Session #2 dealt with remembering the International Committee Against Racism which was formed in 1973 by members and friends of the Progressive Labor Party to deal with the myriad issues of neo-racism which had emerged around academic racism.  INCAR was truly the antecedent to UUMUAC (also now to be known as the Mac).  Former members of that group, e.g., Dr. Phiefer Browne, Dr. Roberta Lammers Campbell, Dr. Finley C. Campbell, Carrico Sanders and Danny Bishop shared stories about their participation in the fight against racism in the 20th century, especially the fight against academic racism and against Nazi-Klan racism.  A discussion followed their presentations focusing on the lessons learned from their experiences as members of INCAR, especially the importance of multiracial unity.  However, there was also a major disagreement between Brother Bishop and Brother Campbell.  The former insisted that white supremacy still existed as the major form of modern racism, while I countered that white supremacy could not be the major factor when people of color were now members of either the One per cent or the 30 per cent agents of the One Per cent.  I agreed that white supremacy existed as a socio-cultural tool but it was not the main characteristic of the political economic structure of a racist imperialist system. 

     The final session, on Wednesday, Nov. 6, focused on Racism in the 21st Century.    It was in the form of a panel discussion moderated by Mr. A. J. Segneri, CEO Foundation for a United Front.  We had a racially diverse group of presenters including a woman from East Asia, a white worker, and me. We looked at what some call the new racism or neo-racism and others the new Jim Crow and still others call white supremacy to show the likeness and differences between racism in the 20th century and racism in the 21st century.  A key point of the presentation was made by David Findley, a white worker with a utility in Indiana.  He pointed out how brain washed white elite workers, the power line mechanics, worked hard to keep their privilege of not allowing a black worker to join their ranks.  He said that there were pictures in the main office of fifteen white workers who had died from electrocution.  Such, he pointed out, was the rewards of “white privilege.”  For me it is a fitting metaphor of how anti-black racism hurts white workers. The presentation was followed by discussion and proposals for future action.  The turnout was small, about 12 people, but lively.

We also helped a young black man, Carrico Sanders, in his struggle to get a hearing on the shooting death of a friend of his by the Chicago police.  However, the case was continued to a future time.  We stand ready to help him.

     A rough draft copy of the pamphlet on how anti-black racism hurts the average white member of the rank and file has been completed but not yet circulated to the Executive Committee for approval. 

     I made a key presentation on the issue of racism and the white worker at the American Humanist Sociology Association meeting held in Arlington Virginia November 9, 2013.  A video of that presentation is being developed.

     During the month of December, due to illness and travels to Europe on my part, the UUMUAC Exec Committee did not meet.  So, I will call a meeting of it in January. However, I did arrange for UUMUAC member Taye Woldenmate to make a trip to our Africa project in Tanzania.  I last heard from him that he was in South Sudan.  I am praying that he returns safely from that war torn land.

By the way, UUMUAC has also
endorsed the Nature of Racism course currently being taught at First Unitarian Church of Chicago, dealing with a more comprehensive look at neo-racism.

      Asian Latin Black Red White, Immigrant and Citizen, against racism unite.