Rebuild the Churches. Black Lives Matter. Go USA.

By Elizabeth Nguyen

This week: black churches burned, our the General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association passed an Action of Immediate Witness in support of the Black Lives Matter movement calling for “police reform and prison abolition, which seeks to replace the current prison system with a system that is more just and equitable.” And I wore the flag of the United States of America.

As I look out over July 4th, I feel the same discomfort and complexity I’ve always felt about belonging to the red white and blue – this nation where I was born and gives me the privilege of that USA passport; this country that opened its arms to my father when he immigrated as a refugee from Vietnam, but closes its borders to so many others.

After I got to witness Unitarian Universalists putting words to paper in support of prison abolition, declaring “No matter who you are, black lives matter, and a system of fair, transformative, and restorative justice that is accountable to communities is something each of us has a right to,” and shutting down an intersection with Don’t Shoot Portland, I headed to Montreal to watch a semifinal in the Women’s World Cup. During the game against Germany, I wore that flag and chanted USA at the top of my lungs as Carli Lloyd and Kelley O'Hara scored game-winning goals. I dream of a day when the USA that I cheer for will be one of liberation and interdependence and, yes, the beautiful game. Not the one of deportation and state sanctioned violence, of murders in houses of worship and in the streets.

Michael Franti sings, “Please tell me the reason behind the colors that you fly / Love just one nation and the whole world we divide.”

So here we are. Rebuild the churches. Happy Fourth of July. Black Lives Matter. Go USA.


Stopping traffic at General Assembly.

Cheering for the USA women's soccer team.