Lenten reflection – on shame

“If you remove the yoke from among you,
the pointing of the finger,
the speaking of evil,
if you offer your food to the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness
and your gloom be like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you continually,
and satisfy your needs in parched places,
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters never fail.” Isaiah 58:9-11

Every Sunday, I tell my flock at Beloved Community Church: “No matter where you have been, no matter what you have done, no matter what has been done to you, you are still precious in the eyes of God.”

I say this every week because I know that shame keeps so many people from walking into the wide-open arms of a loving God. So many of us have internalized a corrosive shame not only for mistakes we have made and wrong turns we have taken, but for who we are and even for what others have done to us.

People have pointed their fingers at us (ok, even the middle one), shamed us, to the point that we believe the lies they have told us about ourselves. Many of us have internalized a shame for who we are, or for who we are not. Our parents may have convinced us that we just were not enough – not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough, not strong enough, not giving enough; somehow wefailed them when their lives didn’t measure up.

Some hear every day that there is something shameful about who they are as a people. For African-Americans, this dehumanizing public shaming has been codified, enshrined in custom and law, and justified by scripture. If you want to think that this no longer happens, look last week’s release of a federal Department of Education study documenting that Black children make up about 18 percent of children in preschool programs in schools, but almost half of those who are suspended more than once. Preschoolers are being shamed and internalizing that shame, and it is corrosive to the soul.

But it’s not just race ~ it’s also about gender. Girls start to see themselves as sex objects as young as 6 years old (LiveScience.com, July 2013). They are losing their sense of self-worth as children and it is corrosive to the soul.

Public shaming happens to anyone who loves someone who society or community says they should not love. Certainly same-sex lovers are shamed. So are interracial couples and those who fall in love outside their religion, or tribe, taken literally or metaphorically.

And then there is the victim’s shame — what someone did to you becomes your own shame. The shame of the victim of rape – think of the girls who were tormented (by other girls!) to the point of suicide after reporting gang-rape by popular football players. Think of the shame someone feels when his or her spouse has had an affair – even though s/he has done nothing wrong. Children often internalize shame about their parents’ divorce, unless parents are intentional about reassuring them that it is not their fault. Victims absorb the shame of their own wounds.

Jesus didn’t deal in shame.

When I read the story of “the woman caught in adultery,” as it is commonly called (she was caught practicing adultery all by herself, right?), I think about the pointing of fingers, the public shaming. She was dragged into the public square, surrounded by men ready to stone her to death for her sin. This was what the religious law allowed.

Instead of pointing his finger at this sinful woman or even at judgmental and hypocritical men, Jesus knelt down and used his finger to draw in the sand. Without looking anyone directly in the eye, he said, ‘you who is without sin throw the first stone.’ The men slowly walked away, some dignity and integrity intact.

Instead of pointing his finger at the woman, he stood up and met her eye to eye. He said to her, ‘Woman I do not condemn you. I will not shame you.’ He would not throw the first stone. He would not cast shame. He set her free, with the possibility of new life.

It’s tough to resist blame and shame, especially if you have been hurt or threatened. It’s tough to see the image of God in every person. Sometimes it feels a lot better to point that shaming finger than to do something else with it even if it means drawing in the sand, to keep from pointing it at someone else, causing them to feel shame or blame.

But what abundant life we are promised when we learn to cease the pointing of the finger, the casting of shame.

-Rev. Angie Wright

 

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Lenten reflection – on sacrifice

At 10 years old, a boy named Eliseo Medina left Mexico to join his father who was an immigrant farm worker in the San Joaquin Valley in California. When he was 12, Eliseo dropped out of school to join his father picking grapes to support their family. When he was 19 he met Cesar Chavez and over time became one of the most skilled organizers in the United Farm Workers.

Medina leading picketers outside the Talisman sugarcane companyAbove: Medina leading picketers outside the Talisman Sugar Cane Co. in 1972, during his time with the United Farm Workers. Source: Huffington Post/AP

 

Eliseo Medina rose from a 12-year-old immigrant farmworker to the second-highest ranking officer in the SEIU, the fastest growing union in North America. He learned a lot about power along the way. How power is used, and abused, and corrupts. How hurting people can organize to gain power to make life better for their families and communities.

Last fall, leaving a meeting with President Obama about immigration reform, Eliseo Medina came face-to-face with a group of undocumented immigrants who had driven 42 hours from Arizona to urge Congress to pass immigration reform. They told him their stories – stories of people dying in the desert trying to get to a better life; children crying themselves to sleep because their parents had been deported; families living in constant fear.

This encounter took Eliseo back to his roots and caused him to reflect. He had spent his life organizing the powerless to gain power. He had become one of the most powerful men in the labor movement. He had brought his power to bear on the cause of immigration reform. But was he doing enough?

After some soul-searching, he decided that it was time to escalate.

 

It was time to claim real power.

It was time to fast.

It was time to join the Fast for Families – to fast for the 1,100 families being torn apart by deportations every day.

It was time to fast for those whose hearts are hardened, those whose eyes are closed, who refused to hear the cries of God’s people, who do not know that our children are their children, our sorrows their sorrows, our joys their joys.

Eliseo fasted for 22 days with other national leaders in a tent on the National Mall outside of the Capitol in Washington, D.C., in an effort to bring about immigration reform.

 

I asked him, “Why a fast? What difference would that make?”

“I have organized strikes, boycotts, marches, rallies, union drives. I’ve been arrested for civil disobedience. All of these things are aggressive in nature, they are coercive, and they cause your opponents to withdraw, to become defensive. Even a hunger strike is coercive in nature; that is different than a fast.”

Obama-Medina

Above: During their 22-day fast on the National Mall, Medina and other fasters had audiences with numerous national leaders, including President Obama. Source: CNN/Getty Images

 

“A fast draws other people toward you. They want to know why you are willing to make such a sacrifice for a cause that they may not understand or agree with. The nature of a fast, especially a fast done in community, is that it creates a space for dialogue, for relationship, for community, for conversation, maybe even for conversion. A fast is a powerful thing.”

As the body grows weaker, the spirit grows stronger.

As the body grows weaker, the BODY – THE COMMUNITY – grows stronger.

When I heard Eliseo speak of his fast, I wanted nothing more than to be a part of it. I felt it would change me and free me and bring me the peace and radiance that I saw in the fasters. I too have spent my life marching, lobbying, petitioning, demonstrating and organizing for social change. I thought, maybe at this point, there is something more powerful we can do for families living in fear of separation – we can hold a community fast like the one held in Washington. This idea was confirmed for me when one of the immigrant community leaders also listening to Eliseo speak turned to me and said, “Angie, we spent 5 days in the desert with no water! I want us to do this fast!”

We began with a 24-hour fast when Eliseo and others who had fasted for up to 22 days* came through Birmingham working for immigration reform.

We are now fasting on Wednesdays, along with the growing Fast4Families movement around the country. I invite you to join with us, to experience this new kind of power.

I also invite you to join with us in prayerful consideration of a

Holy Week Fast for Immigrant Families.

What more humble way to walk the Way of the Cross carried by Jesus,

Whose own family suffered the plight of an immigrant family?

“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.”

2nd Corinthians 12:9

-Rev. Angie Wright

Note: There are many ways to fast. What is right for one person may not be right for another. Here are some resources to guide you:

http://houseofprayerexperience.com/2012/11/fasting-for-beginners/

http://www.cru.org/training-and-growth/devotional-life/personal-guide-to-fasting/

http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/adding-fasting-to-your-prayer-life.html

http://www.compassion.com/get-involved/fasting-tips.htm

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Lenten reflection – on joy

JOY

A tree crashed through the roof of my house and a tornado tore off the roof of the church I pastor on the same stormy night last month.

God did that, I’m told. Or Satan did. Depends on who you ask.

Some say God was punishing me, or at least warning me, to repent from my sinful ways.

They say that God is punishing me for speaking out loud in church (in other words, being a woman preacher), refusing to condemn all LGBTQ folk to everlasting torment, and supporting “those illegal aliens.” They broke the law! No grace for them.

Some say that God brought about these events not to punish me, but to test my faith, or even to strengthen it.

Others say Satan is responsible for the double disaster dealt to me and mine, to interfere with all the truly Godly work I do as a woman preacher serving the poor and oppressed, including, you guessed it, the LGBTQ community and undocumented immigrants.

Some believe that it was all God’s answer to our church ladies’ prayers for much-needed new carpet!

Interesting theologies, all.

I have to admit, the timing is curious, especially for someone who used to carry the title “Disaster Coordinator.” That title caused me some consternation. Wasn’t it supposed to be “Disaster Response Coordinator?” Were they trying to tell me something?

Anyway, everyday I walk into my crushed house, watching where I step. Shards of glass are everywhere, nails, splintered wood, soggy pink clods of fiberglass insulation, crumbled sheetrock. Oh yes, and trees, tree limbs are still scattered about the house. I make my way through these obstacles trying to find some absolutely necessity to take to rental house where we are staying. Sometimes I stand around in a daze. What’s that roof doing on my living room floor?

Until last Sunday, I must not have looked up. When I did, something I hadn’t seen before caught my eye – and my heart. I saw my Christmas stocking-holders, still standing (yes, they were still out at the end of February), spelling the word J-O-Y.

Find JOY, the Spirit whispered to me. Find JOY in the rubble. That’s the theology I want to embrace. Whatever the genesis of the storm, God always invites us to find some cause for joy. Some glimmer of hope. Some possibility of redemption. As Wendell Berry said, Practice Resurrection.

As I picked my way through the debris yesterday, I saw something else. My Christmas cactus is blooming again. Find JOY in the rubble.

Stepping carefully through the mess today, I noticed my Valentine’s roses over in a corner, darkened and dried. Thinking that the place needed a little sprucing up, I put the vase of last month’s flowers on top of the collapsed roof that covers whatever is left of my living room. It makes me smile to imagine what the workers will think when they find roses in the rubble!

-Rev. Angie

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” -Jeremiah 29.11

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Lenten Reflection – on grace

Lent is said to be a time for introspection and laying bare the warped ways of our wayward souls; a time for laying our cards on the table, admitting at least to ourselves that we have stacked the deck, cheated the Dealer and even tried to beat the House.

“For I know my transgressions and my sin is ever before me.”  (Psalm 51:3)

In the death throes of a failed marriage years ago many insults were hurled from both directions, I regret to say. In a heated argument my husband charged, “You’re just like your father!” He knew that would hurt because he knew my father had hurt me. My response was absolute denial. A sense of betrayal. Outrage. Defensiveness. Humiliation. Shame.

But after a while, in a rare moment of self-awareness, I was able to sit quietly with those words: “You are just like your father.”

And I decided that I was.

I was strong. I was determined to live. I had an adventurous soul and I didn’t really care what other people thought. I had no choice but to live life my way. My spirit would not wilt, I would not lose my voice, I would find my way. I was like my father.

I also admitted to myself that some of my worst qualities and most shameful behaviors were like my father’s.

And you know what?

I was relieved.

I was relieved of the burden of trying to measure up. I was relieved of the fear of being found out. It was all out in the open. At times I was an awful human being. I could let that truth come to light. I didn’t like it, but I could live with it.

Shame lost some of its power over me that day. I felt light. I felt free.

It’s true. I am like my father – his best and worst self. I am wheat and chaff. I am daylight and nightshade. I am hot and cold. I am sweet and sour. And on my good days, I am not ashamed.

Shame tried to burn me and bury me but I found life in something I later learned was called Grace.

Rev. Angie Wright

 

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Standing on Holy Ground

Selma Montgomery March 2013

Walking from Selma to Montgomery, thousands of people from all over the country. Old folks on canes and in wheelchairs, children in strollers, college students with boundless energy.

Whites, Blacks, Latinos. They crossed the infamous Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, where once-peaceful marchers were beaten and clubbed by men whose duty was to enforce the law, where the same marchers came back singing, ‘ain’t nobody gonna turn us around’ and marched all the way to Montgomery.

This year thousands came, crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge, and made that same five day pilgrimage to Montgomery.

They came because they had been there.

They came because they wished they had been there.

They came because they don’t want to go back there again.

They came because of HB56.

They came because they felt called to do something about a mean spirit set loose in our country. A mean spirit that wants to turn back the times, to go back to “the good old days” that weren’t so good for people without privilege. A mean spirit that once denied access to voting booths and lunch counters and water fountains, that still denies full access to justice and dignity to people with certain pigment, and that now seeks to deny access to people without papers.

And so they marched. They whispered, “We are standing on holy ground, walking in holy footsteps.” Walking in the footsteps of people who 47 years ago marched this same road to overturn the tables of injustice, like Jesus did when he overturned the tables in the Temple.

Standing on holy ground: When Moses stood on holy ground, God told him to take off his shoes. As soon as he did, God gave him his marching orders: go to Egypt, and set my people free!

Walking in holy footsteps: as soon as the disciples dropped their nets to follow Jesus, he gave them their marching orders: If you want to be my disciple, pick up the cross and follow me.

Walking in holy footsteps, standing on holy ground. Marching orders seem to follow. You are standing on holy ground, My Beloveds, not just when you enter the sanctuary of the church but every time your foot touches the earth, because every speck of dirt that God ever created is holy.

So what about walking in holy footsteps? Remember when you were a child at the beach, running behind someone much larger than you, trying to stay in their footsteps, leaping from footstep to footstep quickly before the next wave washed the footstep away, running without looking up because their legs were so much longer than yours? Trying not to make your own footprints, trying not to miss a step, not caring where they were going, just not wanting them to end?

It’s time to look up, time to pay attention. Whose footsteps are you walking in? Consciously or not, we are all walking in someone’s. Are they the ones you really want to follow? And where are those footsteps taking you?  Is it really where you want to go? Standing on holy ground, check. Walking in holy footsteps, check. It must be time to take off your shoes, drop your nets, and get ready for your marching orders.

-Rev. Angie

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Lenten Reflection – on forgiveness

The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah . . . I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.      (Jeremiah 33:31-34)

God will not only forgive the sins of the people, but remember them no more.

Why would God choose not only to forgive, but also to forget? Not because the people of God had become a faithful people. Not because they had repented. Not even because they had sought forgiveness. In fact, the people of God continued to turn their backs on God, going about their stubborn and self-destruction ways without looking back.

So why would we be offered a clean slate?  Why would God forgive, and forget? Because of God’s unshakeable desire to be reconciled, to be reunited, to remove anything that stands in the way of right relationship.

This sounds sweet and lovely, but it is not to be taken lightly.

It is an Overwhelming, an Overtaking, an Overcoming.

It is not our overcoming our own shortcomings or our own sins, try as we might. It is God overcoming us and laying claim to our very being. It is like God taking over our bodies and branding them with love. We will be like sailors far from home, love-lorn (and alcohol-inspired) who get a giant tattoo stamped on  huge muscled arms, a big heart with a girl’s name laced through the heart with an arrow. We will be like schoolchildren on field trips, with our parents’ names on signs strung around our necks, or notes clipped to our shirts, so that when we wander too far off, someone see where we belong and know who to call before we get lost.

This is not a one-by-one kind-of-thing, not the kind of thing where you wait in a single-file. True, it is about the transformation of individual hearts, but it’s also about the transformation of the people, the nations. “I will be their God, & they will be my people.”

We need the heart of the nation changed, not just the hearts of individuals. We can change the hearts of the George Zimmermans all we want, but until we change the heart of the nation, there will still be more Trayvon Martins.  “The days are coming,” says the Lord. Clearly they aren’t here yet, or else we wouldn’t be consumed by what happened when a young black man named Trayvon Martin crossed the path of a man like George Zimmerman.

The vision of Jeremiah is that God will break open the heart of God’s people, the entire people, the nations, and inscribe on their hearts a love for their neighbor, love for their enemy and love for their God so profound that we will all be able not only to forgive, but also to forget.

The days are surely coming, says the Lord. They are not here yet, but they are surely coming.   That is a promise, it’s a promise that can be trusted.

Amen.

-Rev. Angie

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Gracias a Dios

Eighty people stand in a circle outside a church in Northport. Arms crossed, hands clasped. Latino, black, white. Invited to share their vision for a beautiful Alabama, voices ring out.   Dignity, dignidad.   Life without fear, vivir sin miedo. Peace, faith,  strength to stay in the struggle.  Repeal of HB 56. No more tearing families apart.  A multicultural, multilingual Alabama. The ability to lead our people. Courage, valor.

People who daily are labeled illegal are now labeled Leaders.

People who’ve been told time and again it’s time to leave know now it’s time to lead.

People who’ve been told to move know now it’s time for a movement.

Men in work shirts, university professors, mothers and grandmothers, college students, civil rights icons, teenagers and children, all calling out their vision for a beautiful Alabama. In a moment of quiet, a latina child calls out, Roll Tide! Everyone laughs, but I think we all feel the painful irony. That’s just how deeply rooted in Alabama our immigrant neighbors are, and yet the intent of Alabama’s new immigration law is to force them to leave or to live here in fear.

Roll Tide? Oh yes, the tide is turning in Alabama, and it will not be turned back.   We are One family, One Alabama. Brown, black and white, in Alabama, of all places. HB56 is bringing us together. It’s a miracle. The kingdom of God is at hand.  God is doing a new thing, can you not behold it?  Thanks be to God.  Gracias a Dios.

-Rev. Angie, 2013

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Lenten reflection – on anger

The National Football League announced this week that it has levied severe penalties on the “bounty” system, a locker-room game where players got informal bonuses for vicious hits on the other team’s most valuable players. Injure a player, win $1,000; knock out a player, win $1,500; double or triple your money during the playoffs.  A player who knocked out the quarterback of the 2010 NFC Championship game could have cashed in $10,000.   The stakes were high; so were the penalties.

It’s all baffling to me.  How do you decide when and how to punish violence in a game that rewards violence?  I wonder the same thing when I see a young person sent off to war, trained to kill combatants and civilians, then prosecuted for exploding over the line.  Doesn’t the violence beget violence?  Who is responsible?  Where do you draw the line?

Most of us don’t feel connected to such cycles of violence, but Jesus connects personal anger with social violence:  “You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not murder’; and “whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, “You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire (Matthew 5:21-22).

That seems extreme. Anger is a human emotion, a God-given one, right? Surely it’s not something that should damn us to hell, right?

Still, holding on to anger, I once heard and often repeat, is like drinking rat poison and waiting for the rat to die. You only poison yourself.

Maybe it’s worse than that. When we nurse our anger, our blood pressure rises. Resentment seeps through our pores. Steam rises. We can turn the anger in on ourselves when we disappoint ourselves; we can turn it on the people around us when they disappoint or betray us. Whether we choke it down or not, our anger affects the people around us.   Anger begets anger, just like violence begets violence.   It can create a climate, an atmosphere, that permits escalation to occur.

During Lent, many of us try to do better, to be better. To be more patient with our loved ones. Maybe even to be more patient with ourselves. Not to lose our temper. Not to hold onto anger or bitterness.

What I learn each year during Lent is that it isn’t really about us and what we do or fail to do. It’s about God, and how God responds when we do what we vow not to do, or fail to do what we vow to do.   The truth is that we all fail to live fully up to our Lenten commitments, which gives us the chance to receive the immeasurable gift of God’s grace, all over again. Forgiveness is a powerful antidote to the poison of anger, and it may be the only thing that can set us free.

-Rev. Angie

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Reflections on Beloved’s 12th Year

Dear Beloveds,

In the last year, we have been transformed by abrupt changes in the world around us.  First, tornados blasted through our lives on April 27.  Immediately we struck out to the homes of our members, and to the homes of strangers, helping to remove debris and to listen to the stories of loss and mystery. In the aftermath, we discovered that we were not alone in responding – sister UCC churches from around the country have come to live with us, a week at a time, to work in the driving Alabama sun, rebuilding homes for those who lost their homes.  They, and we, and the lives of people whose homes are being rebuilt, are being transformed.

Many of us have been transformed by a different kind of disaster, Alabama’s immigration law, HB 56, which passed the Alabama legislature days after the April 27 tornadoes. We stepped out of our known world and entered into the lives of people affected the law, and we have been changed. We have had potluck suppers with young people and their parents who brought them here as infants. We have hosted many planning sessions for those opposing the laws. We have joined hands at vigils and rallies with other faith communities around the state standing against any law that dehumanizes our brothers and sisters. A number of us did different kinds of work, but I would say that it has been the relationships that were most transformative.

And now as we look around us, we see that our community is being transformed. When we held our first worship service in 2000, every building around us was in shambles. It looked like downtown Baghdad. We were warned that buying a building in Avondale was a bad investment; the value could only go down. Many people were afraid to come to Avondale for church, and to be honest, on a dark night it did seem quite scary. We renovated our dilapidated “little building” next door, now named the Brown Building after Beloved Marty Brown, which was one step in transformation of the neighborhood. Now there are new businesses popping up all around us! We took a chance on Avondale because there was a place for everybody here. Part of our work, as people of faith called to care for the least of these, is to help ensure that there will still be a place for everyone, as the process of transformation unfolds.

There were many other transformational moments in the last year, some I know about and many that I don’t.  Our Spoken Word events are always the best thing happening in Birmingham (possibly short of worship on Sunday nights!) Watching our beautiful children grow. The way that you take care of one another. The joy you take in feeding the hungry and housing homeless families. The way we can feel our spirits rise when we sing with our Beloved Community Orchestra, or listen to LeNard and David sing ‘Guide My Steps.’

Transformation is what the Spirit of God does.  We don’t get to decide when, or how, or what it will look like. We just open our minds.  We open our hearts. We open our doors. And invite the Spirit to do with us as the Spirit will.  That’s what we have done for 12 years. I know I have been transformed, and am ready for more. What about you?

-Rev. Angie, summer 2012

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No Turning Back: Alabama Anti-Immigrant Laws Unite Opposition

Originally featured on Sojourners God’s Politics Blog

We lost a bitter legislative battle this year, as Alabama Legislators voted to make the nation’s most toxic anti-immigrant law more poisonous than anyone imagined. Added to the notorious HB 56 is a requirement that the names and faces of undocumented persons be plastered on the web and in prominent public places — the new law stops just short of putting targets on their backs.

Courtesy Greater Birmingham Ministries
Protests at the Alabama Statehouse. Courtesy GBM

Teachers are still required to interrogate schoolchildren about their immigration status. People of faith, Good Samaritans, and family members are now felons if they knowingly drive five undocumented children to the store, the doctor, or Vacation Bible School. Racial profiling provisions make every trip to school, work, and church a nightmare.

The legislators — all Republicans — must have laughed all the way to golf games waiting for them back in their districts. They think they won.

Just because they were sitting at the front of the bus, they think they were driving.

Little do they know that they have created their own worst nightmare. Their efforts to rid Alabama of ethnic diversity have backfired on them, bringing forth a multicultural, bilingual movement that would not have emerged in Alabama for another 50 years were it not for HB 56 and its evil twin, HB 658. Legislators’ wrongs have dared people to claim their rights as human beings. Republican efforts to divide have united a new people — brown, black, and white — who lock arms and sing, “We Are One Family, One Alabama.” Lawmakers’ fear of change is no match for this new people’s determination not to go back to Alabama’s old days of hatred and shame.

Alabama’s new hate laws were written expressly to terrorize people so irreversibly that they would flee the state. Some did. Others hid inside their homes like Jesus’ disciples locked inside the upper room, huddled in fear of what the authorities might do to them. But instead of being driven out by vicious legislation, Latino leaders have emerged in 22 communities across the state to stand up for the human and civil rights of their people.

How were they affected by a year of battling against hate? In their own words: They learned to overcome fear. What perfect poetic justice: lawmakers used fear as a weapon, but it backfired. They unwittingly taught their own victims to stand strong against fear and intimidation, how to work together, how to win allies, how to make change in a hostile world.

When the legislature opened in February, many Latinos, regardless of citizenship status, were barred from visiting Statehouse galleries and offices of their legislators. By the time it closed in May, a new reality existed. Crowds chanted, “The State House is Our House,” and in doing so, they took on the responsibilities of citizenship by standing against unjust, immoral laws at no small risk.

There are relics in the legislature who may choose to stand in the Statehouse door, staving off change as long as they can, and they’ll end up right where George Wallace did — with the door of history slammed in their faces.

While it may look like nothing in Alabama changed this year, everything did.

There is no turning back.

Rev. Angie Wright is Pastor of Beloved Community United Church of Christ and Faith in Community Coordinator for Greater Birmingham Ministries in Birmingham, Alabama.

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