A Call To Solidarity on MLK Day

MLK DAY 2017 (1)

Dear YW Community,

A year ago we gathered to march in support of women’s rights.  This year, #TimesUp and the #MeToo movement have gained momentum in addressing systemic issues that have allowed abuse and predatory behavior, especially by those in positions of power, to persist.  This past week we witnessed women coming together in inspiring displays of solidarity, speaking truth to power across a major cultural platform.  A few days later, the extreme opposite sentiment took hold of the airwaves and once again we heard of ugly words hurled at immigrants.  This time, the insults were directed at people from Haiti, El Salvador, and the many African nations.  

It is disheartening to live in a country led by someone ignorant of the important contributions that immigrants make in building and shaping this great nation.  The impact of the President’s racist comments are not to be ignored.  This aggressive tendency toward slandering people of color– foreign and U.S. born– is not new.  In many ways, these intolerable incidents fail to shock the people who constantly live under the threat of this sort of verbal abuse and violence. 

Trump’s comments succeed at illuminating the racism that immigrants have experienced for generations.  The implications of these public statements are multifaceted: the statements themselves are abhorrent and frightening. People are rightfully worried about their safety and the impunity granted to those who would seek to harm immigrant communities.  Loaded words like these can and do hurt.  We can’t stand by and ignore the impact that such behavior has on our city, our country, our world. 

We urge you to help us impart the message of peace and unity that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gifted us in 1963, when he wrote from a Birmingham jail cell, while arrested for protesting bigotry and racial violence: 

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.”

In light of these words of wisdom, we encourage you to reach out to your friends and neighbors and let them know that you are with them. We especially urge you to reach out to our immigrant brothers and sisters from Haiti, El Salvador, and the many African nations that strengthen and beautify our country.             

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

It is incumbent on all of us to address this divisive rhetoric and to ensure that immigrants, the hard working people of Haiti, El Salvador, African nations and so many other countries are not bullied or threatened or harmed in any way by the whims of political agitators. Put into the larger context of race and class tensions in our country, these are not just empty words, launched thoughtlessly in the heat of a moment; this is a pattern of hateful behavior, a negative call to action that has a very real effect on all of us.

We know our immigrant communities are incredibly resilient and have faced down worse scenarios than this one.   However, they shouldn’t have to do it alone.  We are in this together.  This country is all of ours and it takes all of us standing together to make the kind of changes needed to rise above this brand of blind hatred, disregard and utter indifference for the safety and well-being of others.

Corporations and government officials are condemning Trump’s comments and declaring their support for Haitian, El Salvadorian, and African communities.  We call upon the YW Boston community to unify in a collective effort that upholds the values that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed and struggled for, the vision of peace, justice and liberty he fought to bring into our collective experience.

This Martin Luther King Jr. Day, let us recognize that hatred and bigotry did not end with the Civil Rights Movement, that we are still being called upon to bear the burden of this struggle and stand with those persecuted because of the color of their skin.  Let us resolve to be proactive in bringing forth kindness and peace in the face of hatred.  Let us harness the reaction to this bigotry and use it to sustain solidarity and to keep moving our diverse communities forward, knowing full well that we are better precisely because of the tremendous value that immigrants bring and so generously share. 

We thank you for your willingness to receive and spread this message and for helping us give this important issue the attention it needs and deserve.


Beth Chandler