Dear Beloved Community,
America is on fire with rage, weary from a pandemic, and aching with despair. Along with the rest of our country, we’ve read and heard so many devastating accounts over the past week, the most heart-rending from people of color coping with another case of murderous systemic racism in our country. I do not need to (nor, am I entitled to) add anything to their experiences or parse what they have to say about racism. They live it.
One of my ministerial colleagues, whom I respect greatly, suggests that that last thing needed right now is “another statement by well-meaning white liberals.” I grasp her point, while still offering these words as a message of solidarity, consolation, hope, and conviction that we can be part of the healing.
Since our founding, Unitarian Universalism has promoted justice, equity, and compassion in human relations. In fact, the word “justice” appears twice within our 7 UU Principles. We’ve stood on the frontlines for marriage equality, reproductive rights, and racial justice.
However, the voices of people of color were not preferenced until the formation of Black Lives UU, founded in 2015 to expand the power and capacity of Black UUs within the denomination and to provide support and resources for justice-making and liberation through our faith. The BlackLivesUU Collective has drafted an 8th principle and is urging it’s adoption. It reads: “We, the member congregations of the UUA, covenant to affirm and promote: journeying towards spiritual wholeness by working to build a diverse multicultural Beloved Community by our actions that accountably dismantle racism and other oppressions in ourselves and other institutions.”
In addition to considering the adoption of this 8th UUA principle, what we can do as a mostly white and privileged congregation, is to educate ourselves about “allyship.” Back in the mid 1990’s, I participated in one of the UUA’s first anti-racism programs, “Journey Towards Wholeness.” I’ve attended many such workshops since then. Yet, I still have much to learn. As minister of Beacon UU, I am committed to humbly joining you and taking an active role in this learning. Allyship to people of color requires listening to their voices and respecting their leadership and sharing our resources and social privilege, whenever possible.
That is why I am preaching a sermon on June 7th entitled: “We Will Make Them Feel Us: Allyship to People of Color.” Even if you are not a UU or a regular Beacon attendee (or, in this moment, Youtube viewer), please watch this service on our channel (Beacon UUC), and download and study the resources I’ve included at this end of this message. The sermon text will also be accessible on our website on June 8th. Regularly scheduled follow-up Zoom meetings will take place to discuss these resources on allyship and how we can activate them in partnership with others in our community.
In this spirit of allyship, I cede my voice to one of the most respected African-Americans in the world, Michelle Obama. She writes:
“Like so many of you, I’m pained by these recent tragedies. And I’m exhausted by a heartbreak that never seems to stop. Right now it’s George, Breonna, and Ahmaud. Before that it was Eric, Sandra, and Michael. It just goes on, and on, and on.
Race and racism is a reality that so many of us grow up learning to just deal with. But if we ever hope to move past it, it can’t just be on people of color to deal with it.
It’s up to all of us—Black, white, everyone—no matter how well-meaning we think we might be, to do the honest, uncomfortable work of rooting it out. It starts with self-examination and listening to those whose lives are different from our own.
It ends with justice, compassion, and empathy that manifests in our lives and on our streets. I pray we all have the strength for that journey, just as I pray for the souls and the families of those who were taken from us.”
With the support of Beacon’s Board of Trustees, I ask that we join in this prayer and rallying cry. May we rise humbly and bravely together to the challenges before us.
Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker
Beacon UU Congregation
Black Lives Matter – blackllivesmatter.com
Black Lives UU – Blacklivesuu.com/connect/
National Bailout fund for protesters: nationalbailout.org
Guide to Allyship: https://guidetoallyship.com/
75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice: https://medium.com/equality-includes-you/what-white-people-can-do-for-racial-justice-f2d18b0e0234
Rachel Cargle: Public Address on Revolution: https://youtu.be/leBPMyQ60HM