29 July 2018
College of New Jersey, New Jersey, USA
To Friends Everywhere:
This is America: an environment riddled with fear for our entire lives as Young Adults, although we strive for and center justice and peace in this spiritual space. The search for justice and peace will always be ongoing, and never fully achieved. They are ideals we must constantly rediscover, redefine, and reinvigorate.
As one voice, Young Adult Friends speak to breathe life in our beloved community. Our entire lives, those our age have been politicized in the name of a War on Terror. We were all raised, to some extent, in a disconnected and violent world. The difference is that many of us were born with privileges that raised us with some shelter.
There is incontrovertible evidence of the ongoing traumatization of immigrant communities, the most glaringly obvious of which is occurring in family detention facilities, such as Berks Detention Center. To end cycles of violence, we must address them. At the individual level, detention of families enacts violence in the form of sexual assault, abuse, neglect, and intimidation. At the systemic level, the U.S. Federal government’s insistence on separating families and on erasing domestic violence as grounds for asylum perpetuates that cycle. Shoving trauma into the shadows and out of the light has been our country’s history since its inception.
As Friends, we believe in the light in others. We stand in solidarity with those actively abused and traumatized within the walls of Berks Detention Center, and recognize that what is happening there is happening nationwide.
Putting time, effort, and financial resources into enforcing restrictions that target migrant communities will only continue to perpetuate these abusive systems. This is a call to action to end family incarceration at Berks Detention Center, and put resources into alternative options within migrant communities. Most important, we must pursue solutions that are approved by intersectional practitioners in education, mental health, and community development.
As Quakers, we must shake the grounds of this building, and all others like it, until the faulted foundations of those housed atrocities have collapsed.
We have a leading to hold worship outside Berks Detention Center, as a form of direct action. We find this to be rooted in Quaker spiritual practice and history, and we are seeking spiritual, financial, and logistical support and participation from Philadelphia Yearly Meeting in order to act on this leading.
Finally, we affirm the efforts of the Multicultural Institutional Assessment Steering Committee, and highlight the work of the Young Adults on that committee. We see a direct connection between the need to address violent structures in our meetings, and to take action towards justice for migrant communities. In both cases, what we are seeking is affirmation of the Light in all people.
As was spoken in our multi-generational prayer activity during all-together time on Saturday, “Help us, Help us; We love you, We love you; Thank you, Thank you.”