Recent Young Adult Blog Posts
Meet our 2019 General Assembly Spark Leaders!
At this summer’s General Assembly, UUCSJ is excited to offer our third annual stipended leadership opportunity to alumni of our programs and related justice and leadership initiatives to support their engagement in social justice education, action, and outreach at GA....
Keeping the Flame Alive
A movement is not a flash of light — it is a flame, a torch passed from one generation to the next and every so often we are blessed with moments where the smolder transforms to blaze again and we’re forced to race down the path of progress.
– poet Mayda del Valle
Each of you spent your summer with an organization doing meaningful and transformative work for communities different from your own, while also being transformed on a personal level. There’s no doubt you’re ready to take lessons from your experience and apply them to your daily lives. Some of you have a clear path forward, continuing some of the work you started during your internship, or coming up with your own iteration; others may struggle with what to do next – and this is okay.
This reflection is designed to help you lay the groundwork for your own personal journey as a social justice activist. Our work as activists is never complete, and the work we’re called to do may/will shift, but it is important that we stay grounded in our values and beliefs, and (most importantly) continue to care for ourselves. This journey we travel is challenging, and we will be tried in ways we cannot imagine, but having a set of core values and beliefs, as well as a strong community, can keep us on track.
Listen to uplifting song The Revolution Has Come by Rev. Sekou and The Holy Ghost
Watch/Listen to Our Movement by poet Mayda del Valle:
As you reflect upon ways of moving forward on your justice-making journey, we offer you this series of reflection questions and considerations to help guide your way.
Mapping What’s Happening, Finding Your Frontline, and Committing to Action
Given the number of issues you may have learned about this summer, and the number of causes about which you may already feel passionate, it can sometimes be overwhelming to know where to place your energy. Some issues are so vast and systemic, it can be hard to find the particular piece of it that we feel we can effectively confront. Other times we can become so excited about a social justice issue that we feel we need to start a new initiative to address it ourselves, but as you may have witnessed through your internship this summer, often there are existing networks of people who share our passion. If we can “find our frontline” by honing in on the aspect of the issue on which we feel most called to work, and can “map what’s happening” to find ways to collaborate with others, we may find ourselves better able to keep the flame alive, and to keep it blazing a path toward lasting change.
- Think about what you can do to take a big issue that calls to you and hone in on some of its component parts. Make a list of three to five specific issues that you could join a campaign to address. When you get back to your campus or home community, do a scan of the social justice landscape there, taking inventory of what groups are already active on these or related issues, what they’re up to, and where you might like to plug in.
- As you have likely already found, there are many ways to research what’s happening in your community. You might do a search for organizations in your community addressing a cause you care about. Try googling to find national grassroots networks, like Black Lives Matter or Showing Up for Racial Justice or 350.org, that may have local chapters in your area. Make a list of social justice clubs or campaigns on your campus or affiliated with your congregation. Identify a few people on campus or in your community with whom you can brainstorm groups or who might be able to point you to causes in need of volunteers and activists. Some cities and regions even have online calendars that list the meetings and events of multiple social justice organizations and coalitions in one place.
- After doing some initial research, make a list of some groups that will help you maintain your commitment to justice-making. Perhaps you are already part of several groups, in which case you might ask yourself if these are the causes to which you are still committed to giving your time and energy. If so, how can you strengthen your connection? Or might it be time to shift the focus of your activism to something new?
- Based on what you discern about which issues you will focus in on, and what you discover about what groups and campaigns you might join in your area, begin to create an action plan for yourself. What can you do in the coming month to stay active on this issue? What can you do over the course of the next three months? What do you want to work toward in the coming year? Who will you invite to join you in this work? When you find your flame dimming, how will you reignite it with support from your community and through your use of spiritual practices?
Listen to the first episode of the podcast from Standing on the Side of Love, an interfaith public advocacy campaign promoting respect for the inherent worth and dignity of every person.
Fortification: Spiritual Sustenance for Movement, Episode 1: In the first episode, Caitlin Breedlove, Campaign Director of Standing on the Side of Love sits down with Lena K. Gardner and Rev. Osagyefo Sekou. Gardner is the lead organizer of Black Lives Matter Minneapolis and member of the organizing collective of Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism (BLUU) and Rev. Sekou is an active racial justice advocate.