About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. (NIV) --Acts 16: 25-26
Paul and Silas are in prison.
Who would you go into prison with? Who would you go into prison for?
Imagine yourself being in a prison. What would you do? What are you able to do or not do in a prison?
I can imagine being in a prison…
As an undocumented DACA recipient, I am faced with uncertainty. The reality is that I could very well end up behind actual bars as I am at risk for detention and deportation. My DACA is only an executive order it is not a law. But if I can be honest here, and I am going to decide to do so here with you, I am being restricted and limited. I can only travel in the United States, and I have not gone nor visited my hometown for almost 15 years. Imagine not even able to go Home. My immigration status is my prison.
But I am Undocumented and Unafraid. I risk, I move, I travel, I migrate.
Stepping into a space where you have been excluded from that’s the earthquake towards Accessibility.
As a member of the LGBTQ community, I am faced with a struggle. My gender and sexuality are subjected to a social construct of a dichotomy. I was born male-assigned, but I am femme presenting. Imagine not being able to express yourself. Heteronormativity is my prison.
But I am Unapologetically flowing through the gender spectrum.
Daring to be visible when you have been invisibilized that’s the earthquake towards Representation.
As a Brown person, I am faced with many barriers. The message is I am inferior. I am dirt; I am on the ground. Imagine being classified as second class. Colorism is my prison.
But I am proud. I am like the mountains standing high.
Letting your voice be heard where your voice has been silenced, that’s the earthquake towards Integration.
The experiences of many of the multiple forms of oppression are a lot like prisons.
Allow me now to take you back to the scripture again. Paul and Silas were freed because an earthquake shook the foundations of the prison which freed them from their prison doors and chains.
Let me ask you this. What earthquake(s) do we need in order to shake the foundations of white supremacy?
While thinking about the earthquakes, for the purposes of this closing, let me tell you White Supremacy is a prison – it is composed of many pillars and metal bars that hold it together. Like Rev. Dr. McMickle told us this week, about the importance to be witnesses, it is not enough to just see injustice, not do nothing about it, and expect it to change. Which brings me to the prison of complacency, the prison of silence, the prison of comfort, the prison of habit, the prison of routine, the prison of perfection, the prison of exclusivity, the prison of uniformity. Why do I say these things are prisons you may ask? Well, because they are also as painful and damaging to people just like real prisons are and because they are parts of systemic and institutional oppression. And also, because we have the ability to stop ourselves from engaging and participating in that toxicity.
But before I go further…
Today’s theme of the day is, “Whatcha Gonna Do When You Get Out of Jail.” It is assuming we are already in a jail, and guess what? We are!!!
If our goal is peace? if our goal is justice? if our goal is freedom? if our goal is liberation for ALL. I ask... Do we not have more struggles to endure? Do we not have more fights and battles to prepare ourselves for?
As a warrior in the fight for peace, justice, freedom, and liberation, I am aware that with only one battle won, we will not win the war.
The battle for gay marriage may have been a victory towards equity for some, but for LGBTQ+ migrants for example they continue to experience the targeting of detention and deportation in their community.
I myself may become a U.S. citizen one day, but my skin will still be brown and I will still be queer.
As Audre Lorde says, “There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives”
So, If I take an opportunity to answer the question “Whatcha Gonna Do When You Get Out of Jail?” Considering what Audre Lorde said in her quote, I can personally say that if this is my first time in jail and I’m getting out, why not go in again another time.
A question for you to think about is What earthquake(s) do we need to shake the foundations of white supremacy? What types of disruptions, what type of actions?
After spending a week of listening and learning here at Peace Camp. As we are reaching on end of our time together here.
I invite you all to reflect and think about what is it that’s getting in the way? What are the potential things we need to let go of? What are some of the things we need to leave behind? …as we make our way back to our homes and continue with our everyday very shortly.
As I am reaching the end of my part here. I invite all of us to stand and for those who would like to grab a piece of the paper-linked chain to symbolically breakthrough the barriers, breakthrough the obstacles, breakthrough the challenges of the real and hard work that it takes to be a warrior of peace, a warrior of justice, a warrior of freedom, a warrior of liberation.
Lets all unite and grow together as we keep our eyes on the prize. Thank you! Amen.