I’m highly honored by the 2500 Hours of Love Project that was commissioned by our Board and created by a dynamic planning team that includes Gail Epps, Jean O’Barr, Michele Sager, Ann Verdine-Jones, Sarah Walls, Barbara Welanetz, Sam Wohns, and Rev. Jacqueline Brett. Special thanks to Barbara Welanetz, Pam DiLavore, and Claudia Kaplan for revising the lyrics of "Seasons of Love" to create the hymn that was sung by the ERUUF Combined Summer Choirs. Participation in this project offers each of us a significant opportunity to continue learning and acting on our UU values around racial justice, equity, and inclusion. 545 hours were pledged the first day! I can’t wait to talk with my family and add our pledge to this collective effort.
Racial justice issues grabbed me as a child and have never let me go. And yet for most of my life, I knew little about how systemic racism shapes our worldview and individual biases (because so much of this operates below the level of our consciousness). I knew nothing about how Black, Indigenous, and People of Color experience the injustice this creates, and how the burden of dealing with the constant daily BS that racism produces takes a constant and heavy toll on BIPOC bodies, minds, and souls. I’m learning to put the people most affected at the center of the picture, and to create something new, equitable, just, and joyful together in partnership with them.
Learning and growing around all this is an ongoing process; I learn new things all the time. One thing I’m learning is how important it is for any of us not to get caught up in shame, so much so that we stop trying. At times as you start to learn about all this you can feel as though you’re on stage with a giant spotlight shining on your shortcomings and mistakes, and because of how the system of racism works, we think this means that we don’t belong, that we have to “go away.” However, this isn’t true. Our Universalist ancestors in particular believed that everyone has inherent worth and dignity, and this is what makes us each worthy of belonging and inclusion, no exceptions.
If we want something new to happen we need to make new choices and try new ways. So at ERUUF, while we’re trying to be as clear as possible about why and how we’re dismantling racism, and we’re committed to doing this with compassion and inclusion, we’re not trying to shame or blame anyone. I’ve learned that if and when I feel that way, I need to ask “who or what benefits from this?” Most often the answer is “it keeps things the same, and people with more power benefit more.”
I hope that you’ll check out the 2500 Hours of Love website and find something intriguing to try. And did you see the spectacular t-shirts?! You can find out how to get yours when you make your pledge.