Some of you may have read the information I put in the e-news last Friday about UUA President Peter Morales resigning effective April 1. His resignation was in major part an outcome of a highly controversial hiring in the Southern Region of the UUA. The compilation of the sequence of events is in this link: https://docs.google.com/document/d/10QbuEL7ADWpm5GvpRf-UdU2nbylllpK07DOgzM2dCpc/mobilebasic. You’ll read that hiring practices in the UUA continue to be overwhelmingly white and oftentimes male hires. This is clearly not in line with the aspirations of the UUA to become a fair and equitable hiring and promoting organization.
A couple of days ago a group of UU’s of color sent out the link at the head of this column. It asks our congregations to have a ‘teach-in’ Sunday on the topic of White Supremacy in the UUA either on April 30 or May 7.
I had conversations with the candidate for your settled ministry as well as some in leadership here as to options. We agreed in general that April 30 wouldn’t work since that’s the second and culminating Sunday of the Candidating Week and just before you as a congregation vote on the new minister. May 7 is a long-planned youth led service and we didn’t think it reasonable to ask them to either change their service or do postpone it. May 14 is Mother’s Day and I wouldn’t change that service, either.
May 21 seems like the best option. It’s an open Sunday for me. While the BlackLives UU group prefers the 30th or 7th they did leave the option open for other Sundays.
What does this mean for us here?
In part, it means ‘welcome to the reality of institutional racism in America.’ We as a nation and individuals are profoundly uncomfortable with anything that is so painful. I certainly am. I suspect some of you are as well. I don’t like talking about it and I have a knee-jerk reaction when I see the words “White Supremacy”. I can probably justify intellectually why I don’t want to deal with what Jim Wallis calls “America’s Original Sin.’
However, I also have learned that tip-toeing around painful issues in our lives does no good. Eventually we must face them and embrace their reality. Why “embrace” – that doesn’t seem like a good word. In this case I mean it as a term to face our demons head-on and refuse to let go of them until they can be healed or dissolved.
What do I need to help Westside UU Congregation face this moment in time given I am not very skilled in the work of racial or gender justice?
I need a small ad hoc working group to be put together soon. Let’s assume there would be a Sunday service on May 21 as well as some kind of workshop afterward. The Black Lives UU group will send resources and information out once I get us into their ‘planning to do it’ list.
Please text me at 864-508-6836 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have an interest being on this short term ad hoc working group. Our specific task will be to use the materials they provide to create an excellent service and workshop.
Thank you all as we move through yet another important chapter in the story of Westside UU and the whole UUA.