Racial Realities and
The service and sermon will in some ways continue my theme this month about dreaming. It also connects us to our association's historic legacy. Many UU’s have been abolitionist, suffragettes, pacifist, ecologist, LGBTQIA activist and so much more as we’ve grappled with the linked oppressions that plague human relationships.
Let’s come together and let us find a pathway to greater activity, understanding, compassion and love.
WHAT IS BELOVED COMMUNITY?
Beloved Community happens when people of diverse racial, ethnic, educational, class, gender, abilities, sexual orientation backgrounds/identities come together in an interdependent relationship of love, mutual respect, and care that seeks to realize justice within the community and in the broader world.
WHY SINGLE OUT RACISM?
At a global level, this would not necessarily make sense (for instance, the oppression of women is fundamental to poverty and lack of development in many areas), but in the USA, racism stands out. The two worst crises of the UUA (late 1960’s and now) were both related to race. Racism in the US stems from chattel slavery, where people were uniquely legally treated as property that could be inherited, for something (skin color) they had no control over.
The UUA has done well with women becoming ministers and leaders (the 7 Principles themselves came out of the Women’s Movement within UUism).
The LGBTQIA+ community is well represented as members, ministers, RE staff, and other leadership in individual congregations and the UUA, and the Welcoming Congregation program has been very effective (we could use something similar for racism). Some congregations have done a good job of making sure they are accessible to people with disabilities, although many UU spaces are still not fully accessible.
The UUA, the US, and the world also have a lot of problems deeply based in economic class oppression (as MLK realized, in addition to militarism and materialism); this Principle includes that, but is not highlighting it.
WHY THE UUA (USA)?
Whiteness, and chattel slavery (structural racism) were invented in the US, at the same time that modern Unitarianism and Universalism were being created.
Unitarians originally were largely from the New England European-American elite – often did not treat Native American peoples well, benefitted from slavery, and some were leaders in the Eugenics movement (promoting birth control for people of color because they were seen as inferior).
Some Unitarian and Universalist ministers (more Universalists, since Universalism was more of a working class movement) spoke out against slavery, but we did little as a denomination. After the Trayvon Martin verdict, many UU ministers said nothing in church.
UU’s did a very good job during the Civil Rights Movement, largely at the request of Dr. King, and we should be very proud of that.
In the late 60’s a promising movement (BAC, BUUC) was supported by the UUA, then de-funded because of a financial crisis, leading to a terrible conflict, after which many African-Americans left the UUA.
There was a long period of silence until the late 80’s and early 90’s, then excellent progress after that for a decade or so, but we have regressed, leading to the UUA President resigning over hiring inclusivity issues.
The LA problem, The LV problem, The NY problem, The USA problem, The global problem…
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE ACCOUNTABLE?
White UUs hold themselves accountable to communities of color, to make sure whites do what they say they will do. In practice, that can mean having a People of Color Caucus within congregations, districts, etc., to discern and express needs and concerns to the rest of the community. Black UUs hold each other accountable and help each other see and dismantle signs of internalized racism. We need an effective mechanism or structure to ensure this. Similarly for other oppressions.
How do we at UUCLV change the present realities?
Changing the world!
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