A message on Ukraine and welcoming

Dear welcomers,

Our thoughts today are with the people of Ukraine, and all those whose lives are uprooted because of the ever- present forces in our world that believe that domination — rather than democracy — is the path forward.

As the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors from Europe, and as the spouse of a survivor of the war that broke up the former Yugoslavia, and as the leader of an organization focused keenly on this issues, I know all too well that authoritarianism on the continent is not a new threat.

On every continent, refugees and other victims of scapegoating and racism are being used as pawns to enable graft, corruption, and power in the hands of the few, rather than the many. This is a story as old as time, and also one we have the power to change.

My greatest hope in this moment is that we not only show generosity and compassion toward the suffering of Ukrainians, but open our eyes to recognize this pattern in the displacement of people around the globe, stripping them of basic rights. This, in turn, creates yet another cycle of “us” and “them,” reinforcing historical foundations of genocide, racism, and exclusion that pit one group against another, or perpetuate notions of white supremacy.

What restores my faith that this is possible is the growing consciousness of and work to address this pattern at its narrative foundation, along with the rise of people-driven social movements that will once again play their part in bolstering democratic norms.

At their nexus is the leadership of welcoming communities, working actively to envision a different future and create the conditions now for belonging, well-being, and basic human rights for every person — no matter where we’ve come from.Now is the time to resist “chaos” narratives and reinforce the strength and capacity of our communities to extend our welcoming values abundantly, not only to Ukrainians, but other immigrant populations, and to anyone who may be feeling unsettled or unsafe.

Now is the time to remind our communities that safety is rooted in coming together across race and national origin to demonstrate that democracy, whether in our own backyard, or around the globe, is the way forward.

It is also a time to remember that every single person fleeing conflict has the right to seek safety in other countries and is entitled to protection without discrimination. 

Please as well as to reach out if there are other ways we can support you as a community — striving, together, to be beacons of hope for so many in this difficult moment.

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