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Black Lives Matter protesters chant, “We have a duty to fight. We have a duty to win. We must love and protect one another. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”

The past few months have been very hard. That’s an understatement, of course, but it bears mentioning.

For the first three months of the coronavirus pandemic my almost daily involvement with the Pasadena Tenants Union has given me an outlet for my anxiety and fear that I and my neighbors would experience illness, displacement, or worse. Being engaged kept me from spinning out in isolation, merely worrying about the crisis with nothing I could actually do.

I’ve listened in on city council meetings, attended organizing meetings of my tenants union and other state and national organizations who are organizing to keep our communities housed in a context where housing is the number one way to prevent the spread of Covid-19. …

Originally published in Pasadena Now on June 17, 2020.

A beautiful vision is being discussed in communities across the United States, ignited this time by the senseless and cold-blooded murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. …

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I was listening in to the Pasadena City Council meeting on Monday April 6, 2020 when Councilmember Kennedy interrupted, less than one minute into the meeting before the council could pledge their allegiance to the American flag, to suggest that during the coronavirus pandemic, at least, city council should consider praying at the beginning of each meeting.

Kevin Kenney for Pasadena Now wrote a piece about this on Monday, April 13, which prompted me to send this letter, which was published the next day.

When I heard Councilmember Kennedy bring up the idea of opening city council meetings with prayer during the pandemic at the last meeting, I was alarmed. It is often during a crisis that our freedoms are eroded and the dominant narrative is assumed to apply universally to everyone. …


Ryan Bell

Member organizer, Pasadena Tenants Union; humanist chaplain, University of Southern California; and the host of the Life After God podcast.

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