On September 23, UUFE hosted the UU Racial Justice Gathering Workshop. Paula Cole Jones and other leaders led an in-depth conversation and workshop on racial justice. The gathering was an opportunity for UUs in the Delmarva Cluster to address the challenges of dismantling systemic racism. About a dozen UUFE members and friends attended.
UU liFE received these responses to questions we asked after the event.
What’s the most surprising thing you learned about racial awareness in our community, within UUFE, or in yourself?
I was unaware of the extent to which the UU’s became actively involved in the Civil Rights Movement in the 60’s. I did not realize how bitterly divided the UUA leadership became during this period; and the prominent role played by Black UU leaders as they tried to champion the cause and promote funding for racial justice projects.
I was somewhat surprised, but not greatly, at the slow process that it has been for the UUA to establish and fund programs for racial justice.
As with a majority of social justice programs/initiatives there are subgroups of a larger movement that vie for prominence and funding.Although I was “put off” initially by the term “White Supremacy,” I now have a much clearer understanding of the institutional nature of that term. It is not referring to skin heads and the KKK. Paula Cole Jones, our facilitator, led us through an exploration of how what has historically been the dominant culture marginalizes so many people. “Whiteness” has been supreme.
Members of the black community don’t feel equality exists, and for this reason many remain separatists. This was made clear in the film. There was no happy ending. I was waiting for one then realized that if I were black, I’d recognize there was still a deep racial divide.
Look at the heartfelt solidarity of the NFL players and the team owners recognizing that extreme racism exists. Not only by the police but permeating our whole society.
What could we as a congregation do to move toward real and sustainable social change to dismantle racism and white supremacy? (This is a question that Rev. Sue posed in her Sep 24 sermon.)
The real barrier is our inability to see from another’s perspective. It’s not about bringing people of color into our white tent for social /economic equality. It’s really about changing the shape and size of the tent itself.
What is extremely challenging for me is to see a path forward to dismantling white supremacy. When asked how this can occur, Paula answered that it is through one-on-one relationships and governmental policy changes. This will take considerable time and decades of work. I want to be hopeful, and I will do what I can, but honestly, I felt overwhelmed by the challenge, by the end of the seminar.
I don’t know and hope some in the group will have suggestions.