Resisting injustice at every level

On Nov. 20, I participated in a rally in Hyattsville, Md., very close to where I live in the Maryland suburbs of Prince Georges County. Hyattsville, like Washington, D.C., itself, is a very diverse community — racially and ethnically. It is home especially to a large Hispanic population, some of whom are surely undocumented. They have been living here locally with their families for years.

The rally was called in the wake of Trump's election, to "share the message with our immigrant, refugee, people of color, women, LGBT, Jewish, Muslim, and disabled friends and neighbors that we have their back." The notice went on to say, "Together we declare that acts of hate will not happen on our watch. We REFUSE to be silent in the face of bullying and hate. We PLEDGE to intervene if we see someone being harassed. We STAND UP in support of our friends and neighbors and will take action whenever we can."

It was heartening to see that, after only a few days' notice, more than 200 local people responded to this message and showed up in the biting, windy cold to oppose discrimination and show support for groups that are fearful.

Many people in minority communities now live in fear because of the coming presidency of Donald Trump, and his election has apparently spurred an increase in acts of hate and discrimination around the country. According to US News and World Report, "Swastikas and graffiti declaring 'Sieg Heil 2016' were reportedly spray-painted in South Philadelphia. 'Trump!' was scrawled on the door to a prayer room used by Muslim students at New York University. A gay pride flag was burned in Rochester, New York. And the apparent effigy of a black man was hanged above the entrance to a coffee shop in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, dangling from the end of a rope."

And these are just a few incidents. Between Wednesday, Nov. 9, the day after the presidential election, and the morning of Monday, Nov. 14, the Southern Poverty Law Center collected 437 reports of hateful intimidation and harassment. It is worth visiting their website for a full and regularly updated report.

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It is understandable that, in the wake of this election, many of our friends and neighbors are fearful and vulnerable right now.

If there is anything our Christian faith, and Catholic social teaching, call us to do it is to stand with the poor and the powerless, to resist injustice and to offer a love and solidarity to replace fear.

Last weekend, one of my friends, who is an agnostic, summed up the call of the Gospel in our time with these words: "We must resist."

Yes, with everything we have, we must resist injustice and discrimination.

I was happy to join this first, peaceful act of resistance Hyattsville, Md.


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