By Chris Crass
Hearing about ways that UUs are throwing down in the Black Lives Matter movement is deeply inspiring. And while the UUs are majority white, there are also large numbers of Black UUs and UUs of color who are throwing down big all around the country. Here are some of the ways UUs are work for racial justice in this time.
1. Many churches are hanging Black Lives Matter banners outside of their churches – which has involved many conversations in and beyond the church about why it’s not “All Lives Matter”, about anti-Black racism in policing and society and why the church is standing with the Black freedom movement (not historically, but TODAY). More and more churches need to do this.
2. Thousands of UUs around the country are participating in Black Lives Matter demonstrations and direct actions, speaking out in their churches and communities. Many Black UUs and UUs of color are bringing spiritual leadership to the movement in powerful ways. Many white UUs are developing, what I’ve been calling “empowered followership”, of reaching out and asking about ways to support, which includes: making food for Black-led and Black only organizing meetings, huge amounts of fundraising, providing free space at their churches for meetings and staging grounds for actions, helping with a wide range of action planning logistics. And the “empowered followership” or promoting the leadership, analysis, strategy, and actions of Black activists to their networks, community and family.
3. There are churches, including one in the majority white suburb of St. Louis, Chesterfield, Missouri, who are holding weekly Black Lives Matter vigils and standing strong against white backlash in the community and within their churches (and like in Chesterfield, the minister, is bring leadership to make the vigils happen and move the congregation towards racial justice).
4. One white minister brought 1500 Black Lives Matter buttons to church and encouraged all of the mostly white members to wear it, everywhere, for a week and see what conversations, experiences, and feelings come up – and to give them out. For white people to notice when they want to take the button off and to remember that people of color cannot take their skin off to avoid the uncomfortability of race in a white supremacist society.
5. Multiple anti-racist cores at seminaries and churches, including one in Madison, WI are reading Towards Collective Liberation to help them have discussions about taking action, anti-racist strategy and leadership as white people.
6. There are thousands of youth and young adult UUs who are stepping up big, through their congregations, but also in the community and activist groups they are part of, to mobilize people to be in the streets.
7. There is much work to be done, and many are still resistant and don’t support their ministers or the activists representing the church. And there is also momentum to build from, assets and strengths to build from. We must strive to not let the failures, shortcomings and mistakes keep us from seeing the opportunities and potential. Our responsibility is to build it up, get more people involved, be strategic and focus on what can help us win!
Standing on the Side of Love for Black Liberation! Let’s get free