We’re Giving Justice in New York State a NYUUJ!

NYUUJ is New York UU Justice and it is our new official statewide UU justice advocacy network.  NYUUJ (say it kinda like “nudge”) will be a way of gathering the collective power and energy of UU’s across New York to advocate for our values in the state we call home.

NYUUJ held a terrific organizing meeting last Sunday, Feb 28, on Zoom, where they shared the new organization’s mission and vision, and presented three areas of focus for our justice work at the state level this year.  They also brought in three excellent speakers to further inform us about the urgency of these issues.

NYUUJ’s vision is “a Beloved Community that cultivates stems based in justice, equity, and compassion where all New Yorkers thrive.”  The new mission statement describes how we will work to make that vision a reality: Building justice and power in New York, together we: 

  • Connect Unitarian Universalists with one another and with partners who share our values;
  • Learn from those most engaged in the struggle for justice and follow their lead; and
  • Activate collective power to advocate for a just New York

With the understanding that we root all our justice efforts in the practice of antiracism, the UU’s gathered as NYUUJ have chosen three areas of focus: 

  • Climate Justice
  • Criminal Legal Reform
  • Health Care

Within each area of focus, there is specific legislature to advocate for.

Guest speaker Ryan Madden of the Long Island Progressive Coalition (in partnership with NY Renews) told us about implementing New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) and passing the Climate and Community Investment Act.  Getting these acts in place will make New York State and sustainability and climate justice leader in the nation.

I was very moved by guest speaker Jerome Wright of the HALT Solitary Confinement Campaign.  Wright could speak from first-hand experience of solitary confinement as he has been incarcerated.  He played a recording for us.  First, I wasn’t sure Zoom was working, because I was just hearing repeated squeaks and loud bangs.  Then there was a sort of howling that started, repeated in various registers.  Wright said that those sounds were not made by animals: this is the sound of people held solitary confinement.  It is not a silent monastic retreat.  It is the 24/7 noise that results from the torture that is solitary confinement.  HALT legislation S2836/A2277 needs to be passed!

Finally, Corinne Carey of Compassion & Choices described the need for NY’s Medical Aid in Dying Act.  The Act has garnered broad and diverse support among medical professionals, religious groups, and disability activist groups.  One of the things that passing a Medical aid-in-dying bill does for the state’s people is that it makes for much improved use of hospice care.  New York State currently ranks 50th in appropriate referral to hospice care! 

Get involved with NYUUJ!  You can join their Mail Chimp list for alerts at http://eepurl.com/hayeIn  NYUUJ is using a streamlined communication and organizing tool called Mighty Networks, and you can join in the conversation at https://new-york-uu-justice.mn.co/  You’ll find NYUUJ on the web at nyuuj.org

If you have questions or want to learn more about NYUUJ, please get in touch with me by email <revjoeuucss@gmail.com> or phone 518-290-0284.