- Last Updated on April 6, 2017
April 6, 2017
Late last week, I was as shocked as everyone else to learn that the Rev. Peter Morales, President of the UUA, had unexpectedly resigned. I believe he acted with good intentions, and still wonder if the impact of his decision might be other than he first imagined. Relationships between friends, and within congregations have strained over this. And now this week, just days later, two more UUA senior staff have resigned. https://www.uuworld.org/articles/critics-challenge-uua-hiring-practices.
I wonder where the two women, Aisha Hauser and Christina Rivera, found the courage to publically raise issues of discrimination, especially given the demographics of the UUA and the political conditions of our country. These women have put their careers on the line to ask moral questions about systemic racism within their spiritual home and religious family. They’re asking whether our actions match our aspirations, and whether we’re truly holding ourselves accountable. If the definition of a good leader is someone who faces what’s uncomfortable, and dangerous, and looks for solutions, then Hauser and Rivera must be counted among the top tier of leaders.
Whether or not this issue has caught our attention, it’s big for all of us, especially for People of Color, and congregations that have begun to seriously engage the work of dismantling racism. Our friends and neighbors, our hurting country needs our UUism right now. How we respond to this crisis could assure them that while we’re clearly not perfect, when we fail we admit it, take responsibility, wake up and begin again with love, this time with more capacity and skill.
Institutional racism is created and sustained by hidden norms and values. In order to change our institutions we have to start with questions such as, what does it mean to belong here? Does belonging mean everyone’s thoughts and experience are welcome, or that some must give up meaningful parts of their experience, voice, agency, identity? Does belonging mean equity for all, or that some settle for just a portion of what’s offered to people of a different gender, race, or class? Does belonging enhance your life, or does it require you to use all your energy to hang onto yourself all day, every day?
Our dismantling racism work at ERUUF is about waking up to racism and the ways it shapes who we are as individuals, as a congregation, and all that we do. This is hard to acknowledge. But in this moment, love is asking us to wake up and do something new together.
The next President that Unitarian Universalists elect in June will inherit a staff and religious association in crisis. That person also will step into an incredible opportunity, which is the very same opportunity we all have right now: we can listen to the voices asking if we are going to be who we say we are. I hope you join me to answer yes, to live into our commitment to racial equity and inclusion, to one another, and this beloved community.
With faith, hope and love, Deborah