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“If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

Lilla Watson

This week’s message is a group effort. Because I have just returned from a media-free two-week sabbatical, I asked our wonderful AoCC team members to share their perspective on recent events. “What would you like to remind our subscribers about, in light of the last few weeks?”

Here is what they want to share:

Amy: “I think we need to acknowledge the Buffalo shooting incident–acknowledge the loss, the violence, how all this makes us weary and disheartened … We cannot abandon [our Black neighbors] to future incidents of this nature … We can each do something.”

Janet: “The horrific mass shooting in Buffalo and the leakage that Roe vs. Wade will likely be overturned are the two biggest things. I think everyone needs encouragement to keep going and not just give up and that the work we are doing together is making a difference.”

Janet also mentioned a lovely 2020 reflection by Laura Brill of The Civics Center which referenced the words of Amos Oz, “Bring a bucket of water and throw it on the fire, and if you don’t have a bucket, bring a glass, and if you don’t have a glass, use a teaspoon, everyone has a teaspoon. And yes, I know a teaspoon is little and the fire is huge but there are millions of us and each one of us has a teaspoon.”

Julie: “In response to the tragedy, many politicians talk about changing minds and hearts, but not about changing laws to protect civil and human rights. AoCC’s work for a kinder, more just nation is about action: on legislation and policy, in support for those working to increase access to food and shelter and justice, and with gratitude to those who are doing the work.”

Julia: “While countless people have been helping Buffalo live up to its title of ‘The City of Good Neighbors’ in the past week, it’s disheartening to hear many Buffalonians say that this is a time for thoughts, prayers, and donations–not a time to ‘get political.’ But it is political, because race is political, and racism is what fueled that terrorist to take the lives of Black community members that day. Our actions cannot be limited to individual support. We need to advocate and act for policy changes.” 

Sam: “There’s a link to be drawn between [the Roe v Wade leak] and the Buffalo shooting about whose bodies and lives get targeted for control.”

These events are shocking. Unacceptable. At the same time, they are not terribly surprising in a nation founded on racism and sexism whose shadows still lurk in every law and branch of government. 

As Amy said, we can’t afford to abandon the cause. When we think the problems are so vast that they cannot be improved, we feel hopeless. This is why I love the teaspoon imagery Janet mentioned. Taking even one small action opposes hatred and becomes an act of solidarity with people bearing the greatest burden of injustice. 

Emily: “Chuck Schumer had what seems to me a helpful response. Pushing back on the ‘Great Replacement’ stuff is a meaningful way to respond to the Buffalo shooting (and others of course).”

Senator Chuck Schumer–who represents New York and Buffalo where the race-motivated shooting took place–wrote an open letter urging FOX News to take responsibility for their part in this racially-motivated violence. Addressing Rupert Murdock, Chairman of FOX News, and the company’s top three executives, he urged them to cease amplifying fringe conspiracy theories. FOX viewers are three times more likely to believe an unfounded conspiracy theory that Jewish people are strategically replacing white people with non-white immigrants.

Senator Schumer’s action is a specific example of the positive ways people can use their power in service to justice and equality. It takes time and many voices to create social change. The rights of women and people with a uterus are worth the effort. The rights and well-being of all people targeted by hatred are worth the effort.

In every edition of the Americans of Conscience Checklist, we cut through the noise to give you short, practical ways to meaningfully engage. By taking action for justice, kindness, and democracy, we create the future we hope is possible. Rest, absolutely. Connect with others, definitely. And engage again. In solidarity with larger movements, these actions lead to the positive change that can and does occur every day.

Immense thanks to the AoCC team for supporting my sabbatical. Here are three actions you can complete this week:

  • Oppose state legislation that targets LGBTQ+ youth.
  • Oppose physical and mental abuse of Black asylum seekers.
  • Ask your senators to fund the new Office of Environmental Justice to hold polluters accountable and advance equitable investments.

Click to open this week’s Americans of Conscience Checklist.

Jen Hofmann and the AoCC team