taking the words of Jesus seriously

In the three decades that we have been honoring the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the layers of inequality that permeate our country have only grown thicker, creating a wound that is seemingly impossible to heal. And despite laws having been passed over the past five decades to combat discrimination at the voting booth and the workplace, white supremacy remains a persistent barrier in putting said legislation into action. In turn, efforts to dismantle civil rights legislation continually threaten the rights of immigrants and other people of color, making it clear just how much work there is to be done.

Every day in my work with Faith in Action’s Congregation Action Network, we oppose such threats by working with migrant families to provide emotional support, accompanying them to ICE check-ins and, in some cases, offering sanctuary for families who are under ICE threats, risking permanent separation.

I do this work not only as an organizer, but also as an immigrant Zapotec indigenous leader whose family ties and experiences reach well beyond the U.S.- Mexico border. Like that of Dr. King, my social change work is rooted in carrying out the teachings of our Creators, and it is through faith that we are able to persevere in the face of racism and white supremacy. This agenda of hate is perpetuated by an unjust government and generations of false narratives preventing minorities from achieving stability and success. The aftermath of the administration’s decisions — ending DACA, funneling billions of dollars to ICE and Border Patrol, confining minors to unclean and overcrowded shelters — has cracked open an increasingly raw culture of racism and hatred, halting any hope of prosperity or lasting change.

Commemorated each year around Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the National Day of Racial Healing is a reminder that we must continue Dr. King’s work by demonstrating how great America could be if we would all just stop being so afraid of each other. The color of your skin should be nothing more than a fact about you and not a tool for evaluation.

Supporters and staff within our organization work against the forces of white supremacy by embracing justice, healing, and equality. We do so when we advocate on behalf of DACA and Temporary Protected Status holders so that they may continue to thrive and stay in this country, and when we support families and individuals when they report to ICE for check-ins, celebrating when they secure stays of deportation and mourning with them when they do not. And we train clergy and faith leaders to mobilize their congregations and communities so that they may continue the work of Dr. King.

The world we are striving to create — one where people are provided with the tools to succeed instead of running into barriers of inequality — is right at our fingertips. But we must agree to lay down our judgments and write a new history that future generations can be proud of.

About The Author


Omar Angel Perez is the lead organizer for Faith in Action's Congregation Action Network in the Washington, D.C. region.

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