"Can I still participate in this if I'm not Christian?"

That's the message I received from a person last week. And so we realized it was time.

We always knew we were going to go this way. Begun out of Presbyterian roots, we knew that as 'Interwoven Congregations' we would be reaching out to Methodist, Lutheran, A.M.E., Catholic, Baptist, LDS, Quaker, Mennonite adherents and other friends within the Christian tradition. But we also knew that our call was to reach out beyond the Christian sphere to join hands with Jewish, Muslim, Baha'i, native American communities and people of other spiritual / faith traditions. Because the blight of racism affects us all in this nation, we need the wisdom and light, the heart and the hope, the energy and the imagination, the humor and the humility, the convictions and the compassion, the strength and the service of people of all faith traditions.

And for those who may not profess any particular faith tradition, we welcome your views and voice too.

So today, we officially extend our hands to those of all faiths, and invite you to join us -- or we'll join you! -- in efforts to promote racial justice and healing in our nation.

Peace be with you. שָׁלוֹם سلام hodéezyéél

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For decades woman activists and academics have advocated for equal rights:

· The right to vote

· The ability to work outside the home

· The possibility of staying single or marriage

· To study more than just teaching and nursing

· Graduate as an engineer, science, and another career considered masculine

· Participate in politics be a lawmaker and congresswoman.

As a result of these battles, women have won increased rights and access to opportunity, leading to greater autonomy in society. Women have made history; however, these achievements have not always been well received.

This year commemorates 100 years since white women from across the United States could vote. Later, due to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which removed many discriminatory voting practices, Black and Indigenous women around the country won the right to vote. Despite having the right to vote there has never been a female President or Vice-President.

On November 7, 2020, the news was finally official. The United States elected Joseph R. Biden as President and Kamala Harris as the 49th Vice-President (VP). Since the United States’ creation, there have been 48 Vice Presidents, and all were white men.

Vice-Presidents have all been European descendants, including: slaveholders, grandchildren of slaveholders, abolitionists, segregationists, Protestant Christians, defenders of patriarchy, conservatives, Catholics, moderates, Republicans, Democrats, but all 48 were men.

The arrival of Kamala Harris as Vice President is not only symbolic but historical. Kamala is a woman, a mestiza woman, with a Jamaican father and an Indian mother, identified as an Afro and Asian descendant in a country that rejects mix and blackness.

She was born at the end of segregation and the beginning of the integration process. She knows firsthand about discrimination, not only for being a woman but for being a woman of color in a society that values and measures you not only for your professional career but above all for your skin color.

Kamala is not white. She is not a descendant of Europeans, which breaks the mold that has guided the United States. VP-elect Harris’ election is symbolic in addressing the white supremacy ideology and patriarchy preached by the powerful for centuries.

Kamala said, full of hope and much honesty “I may be the first woman to hold this office. But I won’t be the last.”

Today we have the first female, black, and Asian American vice president in the United States. In reading numerous comments from white women on social media, it is clear that the sting and hurt from the loss of Hillary Clinton in 2016 is still very much present.

Has the loss from 2016 lead to paralysis to celebrate other women’s accomplishments? Perhaps some women believe having a woman as the 2nd place on the ticket is only “second best.”

This reaction of hurt – pain – suffering does raise my suspicion as it tracks incredibly well with what Robin DiAngelo writes in White Fragility in terms of why some white people find it hard to talk about racism. I imagine that for many white women and feminists, the work in building bridges and opportunities perhaps was not intended for women of color to cross over first.

Maybe it is also the shock that the daughter of immigrants, a mestiza and color woman, is the one who broke the patriarchal mold of white male Vice Presidents; and laying the foundations for women in the future. Not to mention that the VP-elect Kamala Harris might run and potentially become the first female president of the United States.

Are white women ready to support Kamala Harris as the VP of the United States?

Yenny Delgado (she/her/ella) Social psychologist and contextual theologian and member of the Board of Interwoven Congregations. She writes about the intersections between politics, race and faith.

Eighteen months ago, our family was in the midst of a year-long stay in the Netherlands. On one weekend, we visited the university town of Leiden and marveled at its university founded in 1575. As we wound our way through narrow streets and over canals, I came to a full stop outside of the Leiden American Pilgrim Museum. Reading the plaque on the building, my hazy American history came a bit more into focus as I was reminded of how that mythic band of settlers had decamped first from England to Holland, and after a sojourn in Leiden of about a decade, made their way on to the so-called New World.

We’re still unpacking the history of Thanksgiving that will forever be married to those settlers. As it would happen, this most American of holidays is born out of two of the most grievous episodes in our national story – the conquest of Native American peoples and the legacy of slavery.

It was Abraham Lincoln who declared the first official Thanksgiving in 1863 to mark the Union victories at Vicksburg and Gettysburg, victories in a war that was always about slavery. The founder of Thanksgiving, while a president of epic stature, remains an ambivalent abolitionist in history, having stated, “If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that."

This past July, the Massachusetts coastal town of Plymouth celebrated the 400th anniversary of the landing in 1620 of those “pilgrims” (a name bestowed on them only in the 1880s). It would be a year later when, after twelve months of hardship, the settlers gathered for a multi-day feast with members of the native Wampanoag people who had taught them how to plant and the best places to fish. The only surviving written account of this event appears in a letter that ‘pilgrim’ Edward Winslow wrote to a relative back in England:

"Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that we might after a more special manner rejoice together, after we had gathered the fruits of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the Company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some 90 men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty."

I came across the excerpt of this letter on the website of the Plimoth Plantation Museum that is dedicated to preserving and interpreting the story of both those early settlers and the indigenous Wampanoag. I appreciate how the museum grapples openly with the history it curates: “This land that is both Patuxet and Plymouth speaks to the emergence of an Indigenous-English hybrid society that existed here – in conflict and in collaboration – in the 17th century. It is a complex and interwoven story of diplomacy and subterfuge, of respect and of oppression, of friendship and enmity, of innovation forged of necessity. In short, it is America. It is the history we are all still living today.

The museum is led by both indigenous and non-indigenous people and seeks to be an ally to the original people on whose land it rests. Among the listed press releases from the museum is this post: A Message of Support for the Mashpee Wampanoag Community.” This statement was spurred by the news that “on March 27, 2020, the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs informed the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe that the tribe's reservation will be "disestablished" and its land taken out of trust.” As part of their response, the museum urged support for the "Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Reservation Reaffirmation Act” (HR.312) which has been passed by the House but has yet to be voted on in the Senate.

The Chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, Cedric Cromwell, Qaqeemasq (Running Bear), issued a statement following the action of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which said in part:

[W]e the People of the First Light have lived here since before there was a Secretary of the Interior, since before there was a State of Massachusetts, since before the Pilgrims arrived 400 years ago. We have survived, we will continue to survive. These are our lands, these are the lands of our ancestors, and these will be the lands of our grandchildren. This Administration has come and it will go. But we will be here, always. And we will not rest until we are treated equally with other federally recognized tribes and the status of our reservation is confirmed.

Tomorrow, our immediate family will sit down for a meal that we are blessed to enjoy. We will connect via one Zoom call with my sister in Florida and my brother in New Jersey, and in a second Zoom call with my wife’s family in Ohio. We will be mindful of those who go without, and all who have suffered and continue to struggle through this pandemic. And we will be thankful – for all the blessings in our lives, and for this country of ours – whose history we continue to untangle, and whose promise we continue to strive for.

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