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Java and Justice: Unpacking the Election Results

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Talk of social justice filled the air on Wednesday as the Interfaith Center held its monthly meeting of “Java and Justice.”

The conversation was centered around the outcome of the 2016 election, its effect on both the national and international level, and how to take further action.

A set of 18 chairs were placed around a large table to fill the seats of people who want to have their voices heard in the government. In these seats sat women and one man, of all ages, ranging from undergraduate students at the University at Albany to people in their mid-60s.

The students who just wanted to see what the meeting was about were joined by men and women from 20 different congregations in Albany. The meeting began with a prayer led by Rev. Sandy J. Damhof, who runs the monthly Java and Justice meetings.

Following the prayer, all the attendees introduced themselves and stated their reason for joining the meeting this month.

“I marched in NYC and wanted to take the next step…so here I am.” Elaine Bird, an attendee, said.

Questions like “What do we do next?” and “How are we going to change this?” filled the air. But the meeting did not limit itself strictly to the presidential election, but other social injustices going on around the world. The work of social movements was also a topic heavily discussed and ways to work towards achieving their goals were stated; you must publicly endorse the movement you believe in, commit to your resources, get your organization to be supportive, and just to pay attention and show up.

Emily McNeill, the acting director of the Labor- Religion Coalition, directed the conversation at this month’s meeting and began by comparing Martin Luther King’s words to what is going on this day in age.

“The three evils are racism, materialism, and militarism,” McNeill said. “We must tackle these issues in order to beat them.”

Throughout the meeting the conversation occasionally referred to the Civil War, the Women’s Suffrage Movement, and the Black Lives Matter movement.  

Another attendee said, “People need to become uncomfortable with how comfortable they currently are.”

She went on to discuss that people believe that there is no way their voices can be heard so they are comfortable with just accepting what is going on. The audience all agreed with her.

The Java and Justice platform was built when Damhof and McNeill were asking their students at Moral Mondays, also held at the Interfaith Center, to advocate for social issues.

Realizing that these students were not fully aware of all the social issues that were currently going on, Damhof and McNeil decided to start “Java and Justice,” which meets the first Wednesday of each month to discuss social injustices going on in the world, and what they can do about it. Issues like Black Lives Matter, Fight for 15, and Mass Education Reform have been discussed at previous meetings.

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