#UUWhiteSupremacyTeachIn2 Call to Action

August 29, 2017

Dear UU Faith Leader,

 

In the last two weeks, Unitarian Universalists have responded alongside interfaith and activist partners with love and resistance to overt white supremacists in Charlottesville and across the country. This past April, May, and June, 682 of the 1,038 UU congregations--and 32 UU communities--held UU White Supremacy Teach-ins. 

 

Through public witness, education, and introspection, our faith is coming to understand that fighting white supremacy means both resisting its most blatant forms “out there,” and disrupting its systemic manifestations within. 

 

The first round of teach-ins brought moments of triumph, awkwardness, fierce debate, powerful revelations, joy and pain for Unitarian Universalists of color, and much more. The Teach-In team again calls our siblings in faith to action to continue the work of growth and learning. On​ ​Sunday,​ ​October​ ​15th​ ​or​ ​Sunday,​ ​October​ ​22nd,​ ​join​ ​together​ ​with​ ​UU communities​ ​nationwide​ ​in​ ​Part​ ​Two​ ​of​ ​the​ ​UU​ ​White​ ​Supremacy​ ​Teach-in.​ Our power and reach are magnified when we come together. 

The Teach-In Team is collaborating on building three different “tracks” for congregational lay and clergy leaders in which to situate their communities. Some UU churches lean towards being intellectual, academically inclined places; others are full of activists, and still others are places that “love church,” but are hesitant to enter the waters of the social justice and most are a mix of all three. In the coming days, an assessment tool will be forthcoming, which will help those planning your congregation’s Teach-In to choose a track. Webinars, Sunday morning worship, children’s chapel, religious education, high school youth, and other resources, lesson plans and more are coming soon, friends. 

 

Some ask, “Why give up another Sunday for ‘social justice work’ and ignore spirituality?” For us, the answer is clear: for the oppressed, there is no such thing as separating social justice and spirituality. Combating overt white supremacy and white supremacy culture is a theological endeavor for our faith--from the top of the UUA, to each individual in every congregation and community. We treat it as such---and on October 15th, 22nd, and every day between now and then, we call on you to join us. 

 

In faith, 

Aisha Hauser, Christina Rivera, Kenny Wiley, and

the UU White Supremacy Teach-In Planning Team

(consisting of religious educators, lay and ordained clergy and UUA staff)

Two-thirds of UU congregations participate in White Supremacy Teach-In

May 22, 2017

One of the largest joint efforts among congregations in recent history, organizers say. (Rev. Bill Neely giving the sermon at the UU Congregation of Princeton, New Jersey, during its white supremacy teach-in. photo credit: Lauren Suchenski).

Religious educators honor three who created UU White Supremacy Teach-In

June 22, 2017

Aisha Hauser, Christina Rivera, Kenny Wiley receive standing ovation for ‘heroic work.’ (photo credit Elaine McArdle)

Critics see white supremacy in UUA hiring practices

March 27, 2017

Latest senior hire, of a white man, highlights staff leadership that remains mostly white. (UUA trustees Christina Rivera (center, in red) and the Rev. Andy Burnette (second from right)—shown here at the board’s January 2017 meeting in Boston—each applied to lead the UUA’s Southern Region. photo credit: Christopher L. Walton)

Original TeachIn Call to Action

March 28, 2017

On Sunday, April 30 or Sunday, May 7, join a large, growing group of Unitarian Universalists who will shift our regularly scheduled Sunday morning worship to participate in a teach-in on racism and white supremacy. On these two Sundays, you and your UU community will be participating with thousands of UUs around the country in this large-scale historic action.

This call to action and worship comes from a growing network of UUs--religious professionals and and lay leaders from both within and outside congregations--led by UUs of color and white UUs working together. Over the past few weeks, many have been responding to calls by UUs of color to look critically *within* our faith communities--including hiring practices, power brokers, and cultural habits--for the ways racism, sexism, and white supremacy live.

“White supremacy” is a provocative phrase, as it conjures up images of hoods and mobs. Yet in 2017, actual “white supremacists” are not required in order to uphold white supremacist culture. Building a faith full of people who understand that key distinction is essential as we work toward a more just society in difficult political times.

For more information on what spurred this call to action, head to UUWorld.org and click the article
“Critics decry white supremacy in hiring practices.” It has become clear that, in order for us to be more effective at tackling the white supremacy beyond our walls, we must also identify ways in which systems of supremacy and inequality live within our faith and our lives.

The ask is simple, and challenging: During your Sunday worship time on April 30 or May 7, devote your program--youth group, children’s chapel, all-ages sermon, Sunday morning forum, and so on--to explore white supremacy, and help your UU community commit to resisting it. In the coming days, there will be worship, religious education, and community-based resources available here to help your congregation take on this task.

Why change your worship plan? Many of us work in congregations, and know that such shifts require work and can challenge our comfort levels. That’s precisely why we feel it’s important. We believe that hundreds of UU churches signaling to their own members and to the larger community that “our faith takes racism seriously, especially within our own walls” will push our faith toward the beloved community we all seek.

Whether your UU community has dozens of members and children of color, or just about everyone is white, the commitment to combat white supremacy must be strong and urgent. Battling racism in its many forms is not easy. Everyone has to start somewhere, and it takes a commitment to disrupt business as usual.

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