There’s a difference between assimilation, limited inclusion, and belonging.
be like us and leave parts of you behind.
Limited inclusion says
be a part of us and bring some uniqueness, but not too much.
you belong here, this place is better because you are here, and you are free to take up space.
~ Terence Lester of Love Beyond Walls
We are being called by our UUA leadership and Black Indigenous and Other People of Color (BIOPOC) siblings to accountably live into our values as stated in our 7 principles. Our UUCOD Board has set a strategic goal of creating greater diversity, inclusion and belonging throughout our faith community. Together we are working to establish a culture that actively engages in anti-racist practices personally, organizationally and in our broader community.
We each have the opportunity and responsibility to create an inclusive, welcoming and anti-racist culture. Here are some resources to enable this transformation.
The journey towards creating an anti-racist culture begins by looking within.
Beloved Conversations Within (BC Within)
BC Within is a program of the FAHS Collaborative at Meadville Lombard Theological School. This program focuses on the internal work that each of us needs to do as we engage in deeper personal understanding of race and racism. This work is different for white folks and for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC+) and is done in race-based caucuses.
Twenty members of our congregation, White and BIOPOC, have participated in BC Within. We encourage others to engage in this program. For more information and to enroll go to: Beloved Conversations Within
Recognize and avoid micro-aggressions
A microagression is a statement, action, or incident regarded as an instance of indirect, subtle, or unintentional discrimination against marginalized people. Most people are not aware they are using a microaggression because it is not their intention to do so. White people tend to privilege the intentions of the speaker rather then the feelings of the message recipient and are therefore unaware of the impact of their statement.
For people of color and other marginalized groups microaggressions are reminders that they are not full members of society. Many feel that “micro” minimizes the pain of repeated abusive behavior they experience daily. They prefer the term “suble acts of exclusion”.
Harvard’s Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Group has develope this paper Examples of Racial Microaggressions which can help understand the impact.
Individual Support for Black, Indigenous and Other People of Color (BIOPOC)
Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism (BLUU) – provides support for doing justice-making and liberation.
Diverse & Revolutionary UU Multicultural Ministries (DRUUMM) – an anti-racist collective bringing lay and religious professionals together to overcome racism. Offers counseling for subtle acts of exclusion.
The journey towards an anti-racist community continues as we focus on institutional change in our congregation.
Beloved Conversations Among (BC Among)
BC Among is the second phase of the Beloved Conversations program. In spite of our own personal efforts to end racism, white supremacy culture still thrives in our congregational systems – in the way we make decisions, the ways we worship, and in our efforts towards social justice. A team of 12 members are participating in this program with the support of a BC Among coach. We are focusing on understanding our UUCOD community more deeply and how we can move forward collectively towards the goal of being an anti-racist congregation.
Widening the Circle
The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Commission on Institutional Change was charged with supporting long-term cultural and institutional change that redeems the essential promise and ideals of Unitarian Universalism. Appointed by the UUA Board of Trustees in 2017 for a period of two years with an extension granted in 2018, the Commission was in place through June 2020.The charge given was to conduct an audit of the power structures and analyze systemic racism and white supremacy culture within the Unitarian Universalist Association. Results of this work were published in a book titled Widening the Circle of Concern.
Our Lifespan Education Ministry has provided a variety of learning opportunities addressing diversity, multi-culturalism and racism. Examples include an 8 week class titled Diversity 101, shared book reading and discussions (e.g. Caste by Isabel Wilkerson, An Indigenous People’s History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel), and a film series titled Film Through a Cultural Lens. More learning oportunities are planned and under discussion.
After adoption of the 8th Principle we will seek ways to responsively engage in the broader community through social justice activism and developing meaningful partnerships with marginalized groups in our broader Coachella Valley community.
Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Ministry
The Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Ministry assesses and addresses racist and discriminatory practices within our community and develops strategies that support and enhance a culture of diversity, inclusion and belonging.
Created in 2019, it is composed of three BIOPOC members and three white allies plus the Minister and Board President. The Ministry supported BIOPOC members who created and initiated a BIOPOC Candle Lighting ceremony following the Chalice Lighting during worship services. They also build relationships with other committees to further their anti-racist goals. In 2022 the Ministry is leading the effort for the adoption of the 8th principle.
Black Indigenous and Other People of Color
BIOPOC is an affinity group for people that self identify as Black, Indigenous or Other People of Color.
We draw upon the wisdom of our UUA Religious Educator and Youth Organizer, India Harris, who highlights that self-identifying “as Black, Indigenous, Person of Color (BIOPOC) is about choosing a relationship with the global majority. It is a commitment to solidarity and principled struggle. It is unlearning settler colonialism and learning about our histories and realities. It has nothing to do with Whiteness – it is not in reaction to or the opposite of.”
BIOPOC Candle Lighting
The members of the group created a candle lighting ceremony for worship services. It follows the lighting of the Chalice.
We light these candles in solidarity with Black, Indigenous and Other People of Color as they journey toward spiritual wholeness.
May we, as a beloved community, work to dismantle racism and all forms of oppression.
May we live out our principles so that justice, dignity, and equity for all prevail.
2021 – 2022 UUCOD strategic goal: adoption of the 8th Principle
The proposed 8th Principle for all Unitarian Universalists reads:
“We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, covenant to affirm and promote: journeying toward spiritual wholeness by working to build a diverse multicultural Beloved Community by our actions that accountably dismantle racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions.”
Unitarian Universalism has a long and at times checkered history of fighting racism within the organization and in broader society. The idea of the 8th Principle began in 2013 and came from a feeling that we need something to renew our commitment to this anti-racist work, to hold ourselves accountable, and to fulfill the potential of our existing principles.
We developed a series of newsletter communications and in-person Listening Circles in order to achieve this goal. Please go to the 8th Principle blog to be a part of this rich dialog.