What We Have Here is a Failure to Communicate

The exchange that follows is a good companion piece to Rebecca Pace’s article on the inability of UU leadership to follow the covenants they form. It shows how ministers who have swallowed the UUA kool-aid are not, for that reason, listening to the members of their own congregations.  This is an email exchange between long-time UU Peter Anderson and his minister, Rev. Matthew W. Aspin, who recently retired.

From: Peter Anderson

Subject: Re: A Constructive Alternative to Article II

On Wed, Jun 14, 2023, 7:16 PM

Thanks for having that program to explain Article II this past May. The proposed change to the 7 Principles certainly raises issues that have aroused conflicting feelings.

The issue of race in America is something that has also preoccupied my mind and work and led me to think about whether there were constructive alternatives that could better achieve justice while avoiding the disruptive upheavals that this same journey has caused throughout the progressive movement, including 350.org where I focus my climate concerns.

I have attached a note to better explain all that, along with my suggestion to instead of prioritizing the dismantlement of racism within UUA perceived by the black professional UU members, reaching out to directly help the historically marginalized. I would greatly value your thoughts on whether it lays out a compromise that might work.

As a lapsed UU, I’m no longer on the Prairie listserve. I’ve cc’d Prairie folks with whom I’ve had spirited conversations on the subject in the past, but would appreciate your circulating it to the group listserve to further enrich Prairie’s conversation, and, if you think it may have some merit, to the ministers listserve, as well.

Thank you so much.

Peter 

When I was born in 1947, the level of carbon dioxide
in the atmosphere was 310 parts per million, barely
10% more than the 280 ppm in pre-industrial times.
Today, CO2 levels are 415 ppm, 50% greater
than when the Age of the Machine began.
The last time CO2 levels were this high was
2 million years ago, long before our species
evolved and later left Africa, when the world’s
seas were nearly 100 feet higher, and global surface
temperature was 11°F warmer, with beech trees at the
South Pole, on a hot house planet incompatable
with human civilization.

From: Rev. Matthew W. Aspin

Subject: Re: A Constructive Alternative to Article II

Hello Peter,

I have heard many wonderful things about you. It’s nice to connect with you here.

Responding only for myself to your contribution…

I trust that my marginalized siblings know what is in their best interests. They are asking both our faith and the larger society to examine and reconcile some of our unacknowledged biases BEFORE we go out and try to offer any more “help.” I know the voices that are lifting these demands-many have PhDs, and just as many have an education from the school of hard knocks. Most are highly respected leaders in their communities.

It’s easy to hold up an example or two of an unbalanced person that made demands beyond what any random group of folks might say was reasonable. But those small samples do not relay the current reality.

I have worked in Philanthropy. I know all the help that is given. But I also know how much harm is still often done. Even that system is rigged to maintain class order. Non-profits get just enough to survive, and success is rewarded according to metrics typically created by the philanthropists themselves.

Hard-fought changes are happening at a societal level. Entertainment, workplaces, schools…it’s becoming ubiquitous. Being educated on issues around diversity has become an agreed-upon expectation of the generation behind us.

You have great lived awareness of these issues. You can teach us all what you’ve learned along the way. The same is probably true for most folks at Prairie, and as you say, probably a great many UUs. The challenge is that our organization, which positions itself (and used to be) on the leading edge of social justice causes, is lagging behind much of the country on this issue. I met a UU the other day that proudly said she had been a UU all of her life. She then asked about the Pronouns that were shared and noted she had never heard of such a thing.

Not her fault. She just didn’t belong to a faith community that intentionally kept inviting her to challenge her assumptions and remain open to new voices that have been asking for acknowledgment for a very long time.

A quote, if I may:

” Unitarian universalism at its finest and at its best is an instrument to transform humanity so that it can evolve to its highest level of consciousness and potential. But it can’t do that if it marginalizes humanity. If it leaves anybody out at the table you cannot fulfill that mission. Justice and equity must define who you are and what you do with whom you claim to be. Because it’s not just saying what you believe that matters, it’s what you do with it.” -Dr. Mtangulizi Sanyika

That doesn’t happen by luck. It takes intentionality, which is what the Article II work is striving to create.

Others in the community may hold different perspectives. I always just encourage the current members of Prairie to prioritize the relational promises you have made to each other as we continue forward in democratic conversation.

May all of our voices be added to the discussion, and may the best path forward emerge from our efforts.

Rev. Matthew W. Aspin

Pronouns: he/him/his

“With love and patience, nothing is impossible.” -Daisaku Ikeda

 

Updating the exchange with his (obvious) reply, which zones out on the issues I attempted to force him to reckon with.

 

From: Rev. Matthew W. Aspin

Sent: Thursday, July 20, 2023 1:29 PM

Subject: Re: A Constructive Alternative to Article II

Hi Peter,

I apologize if my comments, or the recent events within our democratically grounded system, are causing you distress. I can’t speak for Unitarian Universalism, but I can say for myself my response to you was an attempt at sharing the sources of my perspective and encouraging continued dialogue. It appears from your response that I have missed that mark, and for that I apologize.

Since I have taken my leave from Prairie, I am beholden to the covenantal promises I have made to both the Prairie community and the association as a whole to minimize my ongoing interaction with the congregation for a stretch to allow the community to have closure and begin to move on to whatever their chosen future holds.

So, for now, I’ll just say two things here, and then invite you (if you are interested) to continue this conversation live 1-1 (live being via phone or zoom, less likely in person just due to the logistics) since you weren’t technically a member of the community I am in Covenant with. Or maybe 1-1 in writing like this, although I think much nuance and intention can be lost without the ability to ask for instant clarification regarding points that live interaction allows.

So here’s the two things, for what they’re worth:

  1. I agree completely with you that rolling up sleeves, getting proximate, and developing relationships with different communities is the path we should all be on. There are many other points I agree with you on, but this one for me is central.
  2. While I agree that many have done a good deal of work and may not have as much need for the ongoing education and self-reflection I am suggesting, the reality is that a great many folks have not done any of this work, or only done it at a “took the class, read the book, checked the box” surface level. And if I may, I’d like to share a story that illustrates why I just don’t think this is good enough in this day and age.

I used to work at a non-profit whose mission was to offer capacity building for other non-profits. We had a Finance team, an IT team, a Board Development team, etc, and I managed the HR team which included 5 senior-level HR professionals that had all been vetted during the interview process to at least have some level of awareness of DEI issues.

In one of my early meetings, one of my consultants came back to report on her needs assessment after an initial prospect meeting. Most of it was standard, “They need an Employee Handbook, etc”, but then she said, “And this is weird, but they include every single one of their employees in every step of every interview…but I can easily fix that.”

I then asked, “Can you tell me a bit more about this non-profit?”

Turns out it was a small organization created by established, legal, Somali immigrants to help new Somali refugees with assimilation.

I then asked, “Given the political situation where these folks have all come from, do you think there might be a reason they do things the way they do?”

The grounding of my interest in trying to develop stronger relationships with communities other than my own (over and above the crucial importance of both helping where I can and working to expand political allyship) is that I believe humanity is potentially facing some dark times ahead. I believe there are many lessons to be learned regarding how to continue forward when things feel hopeless that I know my life and lineage has little direct experience with. In this instance…there was an opportunity to learn how a different culture has adapted to survive in a world dominated by dictators and chaos. Given our country’s current political climate, this seems a reasonable path to at least begin to explore.

My employee’s response was noble and well-intentioned…she was trying to support this group and make their processes more efficient (better, perhaps, but also aligned with the demands of the wealthy donor class away from a relationship and towards market efficiency, but this is a whole different digression).

Due to her position, she unquestionably assumed that she knew the best way to help these folks.

This feels to me like the direction our voluntary association is trying to move away from a stance of highly educated certainty towards an ever more expansive foundation of humble curiosity. I truly believe this is the needed next step of our collective evolution (and, not coincidentally, is also what I believe to be at the foundation of the Freethinkers movement).

My invitation to continue this dialogue with you is sincere. I know from both your reputation and the many thoughtful points you have made in your notes to me that we are not at all that far off in our perspective on things (even if it may feel that way sometimes). I believe there are folks on this thread that will attest the fact that I work really hard in discussions to listen, and I do remain open to changing of my perspective if a better argument is presented (John, I’m speaking to you here ;).

Unitarian Universalism needs you, and all the other Freethinkers, as much now (and perhaps more) than ever. I do hope that you will choose to continue this dialogue with me for our mutual betterment. I know that I still have plenty to learn.

In gratitude,

Rev. Matthew W. Aspin

Pronouns: he/him/his

 

From: Peter Anderson

Subject: Re: A Constructive Alternative to Article II

On Thu, Jul 20, 2023, 11:59 AM

From the reports out of Pittsburgh, it appears that your views gathered overwhelming support from the delegates to this year’s UUA General Assembly. Congratulations would appear to be in order to those who support Article II, which would replace the 7 Principles.

In our earlier emails, we exchanged our respective ideas about what is the best way to pursue racial justice: to keep talking about UU’s racial credentials and acknowledging our inner racism as you and the Article II Commission propose. Or I urged in order to work around the threatened schism that sees this as a thinly disguised purge of free thinkers, let’s just jump into ongoing projects to help poor African-Americans in our congregations’ communities instead of endlessly debating the wording in Article II.

However, from where things now stand in our dialog, I could cry about what your victory bodes for the least amongst us.

For your reply –

“I trust that my marginalized siblings know what is in their best interests ” –

seems to say that Article II advocates confine the racial justice issues that concern them to those raised by your siblings. By that word, I understand you to mean the highly educated, black elites who are UU ministers living successful and comfortable lives. They call upon you, apparently, to respond to their needs before responding to the cries from those in desperate straits, with whom, this suggests, you do not feel as comfortable socializing, is that right?

But aren’t you, then, effectively choosing to ignore (or, at best, postpone) the needs of those black folks who have been left behind without, so far, giving any perceptible weight to the pain they will continue to bear in the prolonged interregnum? Those are the ones, not the elites, who continue to suffer unremittingly from America’s legacy of racism. Those who, as I referenced before, are impoverished and ensnared in a persistent cycle of poverty. Trapped in splintered families, drug-infested streets, violent neighborhoods and polluted and abandoned communities.

Am I correct that continuing to put off those suffering the most is the choice that Article II commission and the UUA has made, and which wants others to also adhere to?

As to the specific advice your siblings give you –

“They are asking both our faith and the larger society to examine and reconcile some of our unacknowledged biases BEFORE we go out and try to offer any more ‘help.’” (caps in original)

I can’t begin to denominate the many ways your flippant comment denigrates the interests of the very downtrodden that, to my mind, you should be championing. Let me comment on just three.

Help. About that air-quote thing around the word help, I confess your attempt to put down those who are now reaching out to those in need, as if we’re just meddling (instead of chattering endlessly about their own nobility), caught in my craw. But I wound up chalking that down to ignorance on your part, along with those other ministers who so tenaciously isolate themselves in a bubble, so completely walled off from the real world that they remain deaf to the urgent pleas from the ghetto streets for help. Now. Right now.

Contrary to your aspersion that those who are helping are somehow, what? closet supremacists, for myself, I listened to the call for help from Kaleem Caire and other black leaders. They’re desperate for volunteers to tutor at their new black-run One City Schools, now, in order to provide remedial assistance, now, for disadvantaged kids who are at risk, now, of never learning to read. With the crush of black-led requests for assistance, now, there is no need to address your superior airs about whether reformers with unpigmented skin are capable themselves of identifying the specific types of help needed.

Delay. Based on my experience, I also confess it is difficult to discern whether your desire to keep talking about racism is just an excuse to avoid ever rolling up your sleeves and extending yourself for others. Seven years ago, in 2016, your similar-minded predecessor, Rev. Sandy Ingham, shared three hours of her time with me over coffee at the EVP, the one next to the Sequoia Library, to respond to my complaint that, already then, our congregation had confined its concerns for racial justice to talking about racism, without doing anything.

I should add that, at that time when she and I met, Prairie, like other congregations, had already spent the prior two to three years talking about race. Sandy assured me, then, that I was wrong to fear we would never move forward, for action was just around the corner, there was light shining at the end of the tunnel.

Yet, here we are, now – ten years later – with your demand that those slogging away in the trenches stand down in order to confront their inner racism for god knows how many more years, and abandoning those in need, now, so we can assuage your siblings’ demands for penance to be paid to them.

Whither. How you and the other Article II advocates can blithely assume that black elites operate any more benevolently in the interest of the downtrodden than white elites do, just because of that half ounce of melanin in their skin, is something that I shall never comprehend.

I presume the reckoning that the siblings insist everyone undertake is another round of diversity training (and who amongst us hasn’t already taken the purgation many times already; me, five times!). In that you never rebutted the citations I provided to you before – the ones that showed the overwhelming weight of research proves that the DEI training does not work – wouldn’t it be fair to conclude that the actual purpose of yet another round of DEI is punitive atonement to those black elites, and not our enlightenment. Again, as I urged before, and you seem to have ignored, to look for a constructive approach, 70 years of research shows that, instead, it is direct intergroup contact engaging with our diverse world, not re-segregated affinity groups, that is the only effective way for people to overcome the tribalism, the primal tap root of racism, that is hard-wired in all homo sapiens, black as well as white.

Listen, all that noted, I would never begrudge your siblings’ anger, their justified anger (in their place I would probably be even angrier). There is a particularly intense reaction that follows when someone who, after long struggle, has then succeeded in life, yet is rudely abused to find that, notwithstanding all their success, they still get pulled over, in fear for their lives, for driving while black.

Or in the archetypical case, Isabelle Wilkerson’s plaint of not being able to hail a cab on Fifth Avenue on route to Columbia University Library to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize for her masterpiece,  The Warmth of Other Suns. Was that an outrage? Absolutely. No doubt about that. But will she nonetheless be able to get on just fine with her incredibly successful life, richly rewarded, saluted and feted by cultural elites everywhere? Yes she will, notwithstanding the sheer furor over those brief snubs that will forever linger.

The same cannot be said, however, for those trapped like in quicksand, ignored in the ravished, hellscape ghettos. Just as happened two weeks ago: the brouhaha over the Supreme Court’s decision overturning affirmative action at the most elite colleges was ear-splittingly clamorous, thus defining the ambit of civil rights in America today to those who are Harvard-bound. But that decision only affects one-tenth of one percent of the African-American population.

In consequence, those perennially left behind continue to be eclipsed, without so much as a shred of hope, disregarded by their elite brethren whose anger simply must be sated first.

Could I cut to the chase? I confess to an absorbing curiosity to learn how it came to be that a small claque within the UUA ministry, most of whom have done absolutely nothing to have earned their stripes for time on the front lines, assumed so much hubris. You claim the right to choose for everyone else which particular black leaders to listen to – and from your biased selection to favor the comfortable and ignore those who so badly need comforting. Because that is what, under the hood in coded language, is one of the things this Article II controversy turns out to really be about.

I started by mentioning how the prevalence of your views in the UUA hierarchy had made me cry. There is something else in all this that also brings me to tears. That is the utter travesty how all this Article II stuff tarnishes UU’s incredibly inspiring history.

One of Madison’s UU congregations was named after James Reeb and his awe-inspiring life. In the late 1950s, Reeb quit his comfortable first Presbyterian ministry position to join the scrawny Unitarian Society. He wanted a spiritual home that emphasized action, social action to make a better world for the downtrodden, and especially poor African-Americans.

But, Reeb didn’t pontificate over things like pronouns. Instead, with his wife and four kids, he took a job as youth director of the YMCA in Philadelphia and moved his family to live in black North Philie, unlike today’s UU ministers who live their lives separated by a gulf from the poor. By the sixties, he had become intensely active in the civil rights movement, at a time when anyone who frontally challenged the system risked, literally, having their heads bashed in by Frank Rizzo’s cops.

He later moved to Washington and then Boston, where he was one of the few white families living in Roxbury. So when, after the horrifying scenes of Bloody Sunday, the call came from Selma for white ministers to come down to support with their bodies the next attempt to march over the Edmund Pettus bridge and onto Montgomery, he immediately packed his bags and went.

After marching with Ralph Abernathy and Rev. King, he and two other Unitarian ministers went out to dinner. As they left the restaurant, they were savagely attacked and beaten by a white gang with clubs. Unable to get adequate care in the segregated Southern city, Reeb slid into a coma from the trauma to his head, and, two days later, died.

James Reeb is the kind of hero I want to summon up when I think of Unitarian-Universalists, not UUA’s new generation of ministers who, as you boast, focus on helping people say their “Pronouns [especially those who don’t] belong to a faith community that intentionally keeps inviting [them] to challenge [their] assumptions and remain open to new voices that have been asking for acknowledgment [sic] for a very long time.”

I cry. I cry for those in need who UUA is choosing to jettison while it goes to great lengths to pretend to be all about racial justice.

— Peter

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David G. Markham
8 months ago

I tried to read this post and found myself skimming and saying to myself, “What are they communicating about?” It is lost on me. I love the Seven principles and am interested in case examples of how they are applied in real life. I gather that the discussion here is about the fifth principle the use of conscience and the use of democratic process within our congregations and society at large. There are many problems where the application of the democratic process is not appropriate. Donald Trump said in Charlottesville that there are good people on both sides. The descend… Read more »

Julie
Julie
8 months ago

Though Peter tried to communicate about this issue using facts and logic, what the UUA is doing is a power play to try to get congregations to do what they’re told by UUA, even though it doesn’t make sense and is in clear violation of the 7 Principles.

Julie
Julie
8 months ago

Thanks to Peter for sharing this conversation with us. This makes great points about what is going on, that we can all read. The only good reason to try to communicate with UUA ideologue leaders is to share the communications with UU dissenters and UUs in general. That way, people can hear/read the different facts and logical points and can reflect on them. The UUA ideologues themselves are not influenceable. Read Eric Hoffer’s book The True Believer, to understand why. I don’t know if folks realize this but “What We Have Here is a Failure to Communicate” is a very… Read more »

Paul Alan Thompson
Paul Alan Thompson
8 months ago

These various comments show the complete futility of the notion that “UUs can combat racism”. We cannot. We cannot change the society. We cannot change the minds of others.

We can show good examples.

But the notion that we should go out and fix poverty in the black community, or make it easier for a black woman to hail a cab, is completely idiotic.

Steve Myles
Steve Myles
8 months ago

This whole exchange boils down to “don’t just do something, stand there.” It is far easier for UUs to believe they are addressing racial inequities by changing our foundational documents than by rolling up our sleeves, getting out of our intellectual bubbles and going out into the community where the real problems lie. Believing that replacing our principles with six random “values” will make any more difference in our ability as a religious movement to address the real problems in the outside world is organizational navel gazing of the highest order.

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
8 months ago
Reply to  Steve Myles

I think this is, in a nutshell, Peter’s point.

Karen Winter
Karen Winter
8 months ago

Unitarian universalism at its finest and at its best is an instrument to transform humanity so that it can evolve to its highest level of consciousness and potential. But it can’t do that if it marginalizes humanity. If it leaves anybody out at the table you cannot fulfill that mission. Justice and equity must define who you are and what you do with whom you claim to be. Because it’s not just saying what you believe that matters, it’s what you do with it.” -Dr. Mtangulizi Sanyika Okay, this is terrifying. But it requires translation. 1. “Instrument to evolve humanity”… Read more »

Rebecca P
Rebecca P
8 months ago

We would all do well to re-read Anne Schneider’s piece “A Constructive Alternative to UUs Approach to Anti-racism” posted on this site on July 23rd.

Rev. Millie Phillips
Rev. Millie Phillips
8 months ago

I’m not fully aligned with either “side” I see play out in these conversations, so let me offer some outside observations. Perfectionism is said to be part of white supremacy culture so I find it odd that some in UU are basically asking others to perfect something (not exactly sure what?) before they are supposed to do the practical work of solidarity with those most negatively impacted by racism and capitalism. Besides, there are UUs who have been doing useful solidarity work all along, often outside of UU. How do we fit into this picture? I am blessed to have… Read more »

Jim
Jim
8 months ago

It is important in these matters to make a distinction between a vision and a delusion.   A vision is an inspiring image of a future that can direct action towards a transformative goal. It is founded upon an understanding of reality; a realistic appraisal of the facts on the ground. MLK’s “I have a dream” is a good example. He understood very well how oppressive the real facts on the ground were for people of color. This understanding of reality led to concrete actions to change that reality.   A delusion is similar to a vision, in that it… Read more »

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
8 months ago

I have posted elsewhere my own disappointment with 2023 GA, in particular, the way the amendments process for Article II finally played out–see “Final Reflection” in the suspended group Blue Boat Passengers on Facebook, if interested or for context. My chief concern is that an opportunity was wasted, but the OP here may see that I do share some of his concerns (indeed I used to comment on this page seeking common ground and possible compromises, before concluding the effort wasn’t going anywhere). This post, thus, is to address the email exchange publicly shared here, its framing and comments, in… Read more »

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
8 months ago
Reply to  K. Lusignan

I couldn’t get a direct link to the sermon, but here is a link to “recent sermons.” Just scroll down a little bit and look for “Moving On” by Rev. Matt Aspin:
https://uuprairie.org/sundays/recent-services/

Jim
Jim
8 months ago
Reply to  K. Lusignan

Widening the Circle of Concern was delusional. It was an expensive exercise in begging the question / assuming the conclusion. They started with the lie that a false narrative about the “hiring controversy” demonstrated “white supremacy culture” in UUism, assumed this conclusion was true and then “proved” what they already assumed was true with a bogus “report” that had no validity. Lies, damned lies and statistics.

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
8 months ago
Reply to  K. Lusignan

I beg your pardon, but the two points you refer to above, those that could as you say “improve the climate by us desisting from them are erroneous. The Fifth Principle Project does not and has never denied the realities your first point addresses. We are, however, inclined to question the notion that UU culture is a seedbed of oppression, one that requires us to cast off what Susan Frederick-Grey derogatorily suggested is based on a “fabricated imagination of a mythical past.” We viscerally disagree with this attitude, and it’s non-negotiable. As to your second point, the questioning of the… Read more »

Last edited 8 months ago by Frank Casper
K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
8 months ago
Reply to  Frank Casper

I guess I missed the part where Matt Aspin compared Peter Anderson to a MAGA type or a Nazi. This comment must have meant something entirely different than I thought: “Unitarian Universalism needs you, and all the other Freethinkers, as much now (and perhaps more) than ever. I do hope that you will choose to continue this dialogue with me for our mutual betterment. I know that I still have plenty to learn.”

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
8 months ago
Reply to  Frank Casper

You didn’t miss it because it isn’t there and I didn’t insinuate it was. My point, as was yours, is broader. You suggest the resisters could improve the environment if all of us desisted from questioning the motives of those advocating what are really very drastic changes to A2. My point is, that’s pot, kettle, black. There’s a whole book now devoted to smearing dissidents as MAGA types and Nazi’s. A sermon was delivered recently to the UUMA making that exact accusation. Even Susan Frederick-Gray suggested this in her recent speech. We love UUism as we’ve known it, and for… Read more »

Karen Winter
Karen Winter
8 months ago
Reply to  K. Lusignan

Marginalization is real. It’s also called “boundaries”, and it’s vital for human safety and the function of society. Sometimes those boundaries are put in the wrong places and that needs to be addressed and fixed. But the idea that ALL marginalization should be ended is simply false. Every time we do a criminal background check for RE teachers, for example, we are engaging in marginalization. We say that people with certain history of harming children or vulnerable adults will not be permitted in a position of power with children. We marginalize such people. And we should keep doing so. Claims… Read more »

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
8 months ago

Here is my general reply to some responses to my comment. As noted, I am quite busy and not looking to reengage on all these issues. Apologies that I don’t have time to rereview all the comments here or proofread and edit. I took a break from my break, as it were, because of the troubling nature of this post to me David C. noted that Matt would never “out” someone publicly. However,I find that to be exactly the nature of this public sharing of a private email exchange, followed by multiple derogatory comments that link this incident and by… Read more »

Karen
Karen
8 months ago

The messages from Peter Anderson demonstrate some of what that Black Unitarian Universalists and spiritual seekers, as well as other UUs and spiritual seekers who are People of Color, experience in UU congregations. Peter Anderson’s comments suggest that Black UUs are a monolith, which they are not. They are not all “elites”. They are not all “living successful and comfortable lives”. Their levels of education, employment, income, and experiences vary widely. Many face economic struggles, and many are working directly and actively in support of impoverished communities. Most Black UUs are laypeople, not clergy: for example, most of the founders… Read more »

Karen
Karen
8 months ago
Reply to  Karen

Peter Anderson, as well as some of the commenters, appear to present a false dichotomy: something like EITHER we can support Black people and other People of Color within our congregations, OR we can support those outside our congregations. What is possible and necessary is a BOTH/AND approach, which acknowledges and addresses marginalization, injustice etc both within and beyond UU places. Some of our congregations and UU communities do this. For example, Black Lives of UU, which has a diverse membership of Black UUs, has worked for years to directly support the economic and other struggles facing many Black people:… Read more »

Jim
Jim
8 months ago
Reply to  Karen

There is clearly a failure to communicate. There is a failure to communicate that revolves around the difference between theory and practice. Someone who has deeply imbibed the theoretical sophistry in any of the numerous “studies” courses in academia has become inculcated into a certain divisive worldview that separates human beings into “oppressors” and “victims.”  Carrying this worldview into, for example, UU GA 2019 someone firmly ensconced in identity essentialism may perceive the warm welcome of a nice white liberal lady as, instead, a “micro-aggression” and report said “micro aggression” to the R and R team at GA. This did… Read more »

Karen
Karen
8 months ago

The messages from Rev. Aspin strike me as respectful, reasonable, and open-minded: a good example of responding to UUs with differing views. What am I missing?

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
8 months ago
Reply to  Karen

You make many valid points above (there really aren’t any I disagree with, in fact). Kelvin Sanderson’s lens is also valid. That we cannot hold this psychological and social complexity and contradiction as we grapple with these issues, to me, is the most global and destructive false dichotomy confronting Unitarian Universalism. If we cannot rise to this challenge, UU individuals and individual congregations of course may continue all their valuable contributions–concrete social justice accomplishment in the “real world,” (as well as the trickier yet rewarding effort of increasing our understanding of racial and other marginalization issues and our ethical development),… Read more »