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Standing on the side of love

MARIAN WRIGHT EDELMAN | 7/25/2018, 10:34 a.m.
Every July people of faith gather at the Children’s Defense Fund’s Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry at our Haley ...

Children’s Defense Fund

Every July people of faith gather at the Children’s Defense Fund’s Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry at our Haley Farm servant leadership training site. This year, the call by all major faiths to protect children and welcome the stranger has become an urgent and deafening roar that should grow until our political leaders abandon their cruel policies tearing children from their parents for seeking safe haven in our nation.

Rev. Traci Blackmon, executive minister of Justice & Local Church Ministries for The United Church of Christ and senior pastor of Christ The King United Church of Christ in Florissant, Missouri, was a moving great preacher at the 2017 Proctor Institute. This year she spoke on June 30 before the 30,000 people gathered for Washington, D.C.’s “Families Belong Together” Rally, one of more than 700 rallies and marches held that day in cities and towns across America to protest the Trump Administration’s harsh zero tolerance immigration policies, reinforced by the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision to uphold President Trump’s travel ban, and the evil and ongoing separation of immigrant children from their parents.

Her words that morning were a history lesson, warning and call to action. Here, with her permission, is what Rev. Blackmon told the crowd:

I’ve come to remind us this morning, we’ve been here before. I know it feels brand-new, but it’s not.

We’ve been here before. America has been here before. Black and brown people who have been historically oppressed and marginalized in this country and erased from our historical narrative have been here before.

And here we are again. Declaring ourselves to be “one nation under God” and yet, daring to curse that which God has blessed.

God is God of the whole world. God cares for all of creation.

Who is this God whose name we declare as we legislate evil in God’s name?

I am reminded of the warning of the prophet Isaiah who declares in the first Testament:

Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless. (Isaiah 10)

What we are witnessing at our borders with black and brown families today is not who America has become. This is who America has always been. This has been this nation’s response whenever its false god of whiteness is threatened.

This too is our story.

America snatched Indigenous children from their families and their land … In the name of God.

America snatched enslaved children from their families for subjugation and control … In the name of God.

America snatched Japanese American children from their families fueled by fabricated fear … In the name of God.

America snatched a quarter of a million predominantly black and brown children from parents who are caged in a prison industrial complex that is too profitable for the few to be re-evaluated for the sake of the many … In the name of God.