Letter from PICO Black Directors after Charlottesville

August 14, 2017
Dear PICO Clergy, Leaders, Colleagues and Staff,

The hoods are off! For years, Klansman have hidden on our city councils and our school boards, in our criminal justice system and in our pews. And, for decades have burned, desecrated and terrorized our sanctuaries and holy spaces, as demonstrated in Charlottesville, VA. As the largest faith-based network in the country, a prophetic voice is needed at the federation, state and national level, calling out the evil of white supremacy! Make no mistake, what is happening in Charlottesville is coming to a town near you! The KKK is rising again in numbers and visibility. Are we prepared to resist, protest, protect and heal?

As Black Directors of PICO, we are grateful to clergy and congregations who spoke and prayed with moral clarity this weekend. Now is the time to move beyond our prayers and preaching. We cannot wait for the next Alt-right/KKK Neo Nazi Aryan Nation Oath keepers rally. We cannot bow our heads or avert our eyes hoping against hope. We must bring radical love and power to the doorsteps of their headquarters and every elected office.

To Multi-faith, Multi-racial Communities of Clergy & Faith Leaders:

We call on leaders of faith and moral courage to engage in the work of racial justice and in dismantling white supremacy through popular education, defense training, public action and policy change.

To Black Clergy & Colleagues:

Add to the prophetic witness and protest OUR CHURCH was birthed, a commitment to deep care that addresses generational trauma, and a commitment to leadership that privileges the voices and leadership of Black women. Let’s take this opportunity to re-connect with millennial youth leaders who are looking for spiritual guidance and comfort, and a place to belong. In essence, let’s heal and make whole our community through these turbulent times.

To White Colleagues:

We need your voice and your physical presence at this moment, protesting and resisting whiteness and white supremacy at every turn; in your homes, churches, neighborhood associations and/or in your local city halls. We need you to organize your communities, congregations, and clergy around a white prophetic voice that dismantles white supremacy and protects Black and Brown lives. Even as we

continue to decenter whiteness and affirm the leadership of black women and men, we call on white leaders in resisting the dragon of white supremacy everywhere.

To Everyone:

We need to prepare for Klan rallies across this nation by:

  1. RESEARCH:WhenisthenextKlanrallynearyou?Where?

  2. PROTECT:Contactyourlocalpolicedepartmenttodiscusstheprotection of black and brown people against white home-grown terrorists.

  3. RESIST:Makeasecurityplan(includingnon-violenttraining)withlocal community groups on how to physically resist Klan rallies. Find a clergy person of color or group to support and follow.

  4. PROTEST:Show-upwithyourtrainedcongregation,standinginthebreach in radical love against white supremacy.

  5. HEAL:Provideanon-goinghealingspacepriortoandafterprotests, specifically targeting black people who for centuries have been terrorized by the KKK.

Right now, our hearts are in Charlottesville with our sisters and brothers on the ground, and we are praying for the family of Heather Heyer, who lost her life fighting against white supremacy. And, we are outraged that expressions of hatred would be protected. We are angered that the police response was slow in protecting peaceful protesters - given our collective experience in Ferguson, Baltimore, etc. Yet, we express gratitude for the courage, sacrifice, and leadership of our siblings.

Ecclesiastes 3:17 “I said to myself, “God will bring into judgement both the righteous and the wicked, for their will be a time for every activity, a time to judge every deed.” Beloved Community, the time is now for activity that calls us into a radical resistance to the rhetoric and evil of hate in our land.

In Power and Love, PICO Black Directors

PS - This Hate Group Map resource from the Southern Poverty Law Center may help you learn about what is in your area.