UUs and BlackLivesMatter

BLM & UU, part 1

“Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers. But to be fearless in facing them. Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain. But for the heart to conquer it. Let me not look for allies in life’s battle-field. But to my own strength. Let me not crave in anxious fear to be saved. But hope for the patience to win my freedom. Grant me that I may not be a coward, feeling your mercy in my success alone. But let me find the grasp of your hand in my failure.” --Rabindranath Tagore (SLT #519)
A Nationwide Movement Among Unitarian Universalists

What I’m really going to talk about is Unitarian Universalism. In two weeks (on Sun Mar 13), we’ll have a guest speaker here, King Downing, who will preach during our service and offer a forum after the service. Mr. Downing will provide a more insider’s perspective on the driving forces of the Black Lives Matter movement itself. Today, I’m going to talk about Unitarian Universalists.

Who are we? What is this thing that we do here, this thing called Unitarian Universalism?

And why are Unitarian Universalists across the country drawn to support the Black Lives Matter movement? We really are so drawn. Black Lives Matter is sweeping Unitarian Universalism like same-sex marriage did starting about 15 years ago, only this time, it’s taking a little more courage. At our denominational website, uua.org, there’s map showing the more than 130 congregations across the country who have put up Black Lives Matter banners for public display. (See it HERE.) We have reason to believe a lot more congregations are doing this but haven’t gotten on the map yet.

Right here in the New York Metro district, which extends as far north as Kingston, and as far south as about 2/3rds of New Jersey, the latest report from our district executive, Andrea Lerner Perry, is that the following congregations are displaying Black Lives Matter banners:

Plainfield, NJ
Fourth Universalist in Manhattan
Community Church, Manhattan
Princeton, NJ
Lincroft, NJ
Montclair, NJ
On Long Island, our Huntington, NY congregation reports “our board voted yes, . . . the banner is ordered and going up soon.”
Our Staten Island, NY also reports: voted yes, not yet hung.
In Garden City, NY there’s a wayside pulpit sign saying “Black lives matter because all lives matter”

Right here in Westchester County, banners are up at our congregations in:
Mt. Kisco, and
Mohegan Lake.

Congregations in the Metro New York District where putting up a banner is under consideration include:

Paramus, NJ
Ridgewood, NJ – they’re voting in April
Summit, NJ – also voting in April.
Brooklyn, NY
Danbury, CT
Here in Westchester: Croton-on-Hudson. They’re voting in June.
Westport, CT says they plan to focus on racial justice next year, and this year they’ve been focusing on immigration.
The Somerset Hills, NJ congregation sent in this report:
“not at a point of either board or congregational vote. Energies and leadership are focused on launching and executing a successful Beloved Conversations series this spring -- out of which we hope enthusiasm for BLM activism will emerge more organically. There are black lives matter, black lives matter to unitarian universalists, bracelets available for people to pick up and wear, as well as black lives matters stickers for church name tags.”
And also in the “under consideration” column for the Metro New York Unitarian Universalist District is:
White Plains, NY.

Why is this movement taking hold in our churches, fellowships, societies, congregations? Because it’s an important movement that really is advancing the cause of equality and justice, because equality and justice are Unitarian Universalist values and we believe in living our values, and because Unitarian Universalism has a chance here to make a meaningful contribution.

There is endemic and invidious discrimination against African Americans. Over and over, in a multitude of ways small and large, policy and practice in this country presupposes that black lives don’t matter – from the way we segregate our schools, to the way we segregate our housing, to the way we segregate water quality – from the different treatment by police to the different treatment by bankers, salesmen, legislators, and many media.

* * *
This is part 1 of 3 of "BLM & UU"
See also
Part 2: White Supremacy is a Spiritual Wound
Part 3: Afflicted or Comfortable? Yes.

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