Our hearts have been heavy this month, and this week. We saw 49 of our young queer people lose their lives in the sanctuary of a dance club in the middle of the month of Pride. And now, we are forced to bear witness to yet more videos of young black men and women being murdered at the hands of police - and murders of police in Dallas by those so embittered by the system that they believe violence to be the only answer.
As Hindus, many of whom come from the South Asian diaspora, we too know what it is to be victims of state-sponsored violence. The memory of our own nonviolent resistance against imperialism and white supremacy in India and the West Indies lies in our very bones. Our ancestors turned to our faith, to ekatva and atman and dharma, to draw out the principle of Satyagraha that strove to unite our community across skin tone, geography, and caste. These principles, that in the face of terror and violence we are still one, must inform us now.
We have a moral imperative to fight violence by the state against our black brothers and sisters. Not only because we are one, but because our liberation is bound up in this too. Like Sureshbhai Patel, paralyzed by the Alabama police when he was mistaken for black, we are not immune. Like Ambedkar, who saw the far reaching connections between anti-imperialism and the work of the Black Panthers, we know our struggles for recognition go hand in hand. Like our young people now marching with black and brown folk in the streets, we know that much of our ability to be in this country was set by the foundation of black and native oppression - by our ability, at times, to define ourselves as a model minority, as different, and at times, to be told that we were not.
Our dharma calls us to act, not only in solidarity with black-led movements against institutional racism, but also to break down the anti-blackness and colorism in our own communities. For when we use "kala" as the utmost shame, how can we stand for black lives? When we think some Hindus' economic mobility means we have escaped, how can we win? When there are Hindus for Trump, how can we live?
For those of us struggling to find the words to have the conversations with our elders about why we too have a stake in this work - the resources are plentiful. A guide for Asians for Black Lives has been translated into many of our languages and is a tool to lead discussion in our homes and our temples. And Sadhana members are hitting the ground with allies like Faith in New York, Drum, CAAAV, and more to fight for change in our own communities and in this country, and we urge you to join us in the streets and at our meetings.
We must remember that our Gods are not just blue: they are blue because they are so black, they looked navy. Kali, in her darkness, embodies the strength of the feminine divine, and it was Krishna's godly dark skin that so beguiled his gopis. For Hindus, black has always been beautiful - and that means we must fight for the beauty of all black lives. We do this for #AltonSterling, for #PhilandoCastile, for #SymoneMarshall, for #DelrawnSmall, for far too many of our fallen, because we are #HindusforBlackLives who know that #blacklivesmatter.
Written by Maya Bhardwaj, Sadhana's Faith-Based Organizing Liaison, who is also with Faith in New York