“We are a Justice Seeking People”
This last three months or so in the Unitarian Universalist Association of congregations has been intense after a strong reaction to the hiring of a colleague for a regional lead staff position in another region. That person was white, male, and a minister. Another person who was a person of color was not hired and was told they weren’t ‘a good fit.’ The responses to these events have been multi-faceted. The person who was hired later withdrew his name and the position became open again. A more important conversation has begun about the idealism of ‘racial justice’ versus the reality that persons of color are under-represented in senior staff positions at the UUA. A number of resignations including President Peter Morales then ensued. Other resignations followed and there will likely be more in the next few months.
Here is one summary of how this sequence of events unfolded: https://medium.com/@BlackLivesUU/black-lives-of-uu-statement-on-uu-uua-power-structures-and-hiring-practices-6f099a154ffc
What does this have to do with Westside UU Congregation?
One of the favorite hymns for many of our congregations is “We are a Gentle, Angry People” (#170) composed and written by Holly Near. One line in the song goes “we are a justice-seeking people”. That is certainly true as an ideal goal. But then come the messy details on how to make the seeking of justice become the reality of justice.
This last Sunday we had the gift of Dr. Jabali Stewart speaking to us about this larger theme of white supremacy in America. That Sunday service was followed up by an introductory Peace Circle with 40 participants. Jabali explained that ideally this wouldn’t be a stand-alone event but the beginning to deeper work on our parts to begin untangling the story of race in America that goes into our very hearts.
Last Sunday was a start. It was only a start if we are to take this work seriously. The ad hoc working group will continue its work and I expect may be enlarged. Cecelia Hayes has been a central leader on the group and had recommended Jabali as the speaker. She suggested to me this week that I speak and listen to other people of color at Westside to find out what the next steps for Westside ought to be as well. It was an excellent idea and I will follow up in coming days and weeks.
Summer is nearly here and most likely many folks at Westside will have a multitude of summer plans for time away as well as R and R time. My commitment is to keep the energy of last Sunday (and especially the Peace Circle model) going so the momentum isn’t lost. That also means planning carefully for the next steps in this very hard work.
Please feel welcome to be in touch with me if you have questions or concerns about what we are doing with the teach-in and the seeking of justice. You can reach me for voice or text at 864-508-6836 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.