2021-08-22 – Racism, Scapegoating and COVID-19

Scapegoating and pandemics go together. Jews were blamed for the Black Death. It should come as no surprise that the Lieutenant Governor of Texas blamed Blacks for COVID-19’s spread. Let me repeat that; on Thursday, August 19th, 2021, Dan Patrick, Lieutenant Governor of Texas, intentionally lied when he said that unvaccinated African Americans were the largest contributors to the growing spread of COVID-19. 

This is institutional racism. It is the official demonization of a segment of the population to deflect criticism of Whites who don’t get vaccinated. There are more unvaccinated White people in Texas than both vaccinated and unvaccinated Black people, so the statement is a bald-faced lie. But set aside the fact that it’s a lie; it’s almost irrelevant. This is an invitation to lynch people. Do we, as a country, really need this? Apparently, the current power structure sees the need to put lives in danger to retain their power. This action puts black lives at risk of violence and puts all lives at risk from the pandemic because it deflects attention from the real cause of the rise in cases; unvaccinated, unmasked people.

Dan Patrick must resign, but we can expect that he will receive support from his party and his political base and that his statements will actually strengthen his political position.

2021-08-15 TRHT Circle

Truth Racial Healing and Transformation or TRHT is a national and community-based process to bring about transformational and sustainable change, and to address the historic and contemporary effects of racism. Throughout the year there are opportunities to participate in TRHT circles. A TRHT circle is an opportunity to take action by coming together with diverse groups of peoples and institutions, intentionally listening, and unearth conscious and unconscious biases.

Social Justice Matters, the local non-profit Anti-racism organization in Scotch Plains/Fanwood that we supported with our March “share the plate” is encouraging us to participate in at least one of the local TRHT circles over the next few months.   As the centerpiece of the TRHT Framework, the Circles are meant to ground the various elements of the TRHT methodology in a compassionate and expansive forum for sharing personal truth to help begin the process of transforming hearts and minds.

The next TRHT circle meeting will be this Wednesday Aug 18th (details are in the Thursday Email Blast). I encourage you all to participate.  Doing so will provide you with both an opportunity for personal growth and to help build a Beloved Community, fulfilling part of the commitment we made when we adopted the principle in May.

2021-08-08 – Voter Suppression as Racism

In seeing the widespread attacks on voting rights, it is easy to miss the blatant racism inherent in these acts because of the existential threat they pose to democracy. We must understand that democracy is under attack because of the threat it poses to white supremacy.

The history of civil rights, racism, and white supremacy since the end of the Civil War has been focused on the voting rights of BIPOC. By denying formerly enslaved people and their descendants the right to vote, the existing white supremacist power structure has been perpetuated. The power of the vote was kept out of the hands of those who would use it to challenge the racist class structure. As the ability to limit voting rights continues to be reduced by both social and technological changes, the conservative minority is turning its attacks to the power of the vote itself. These attacks do threaten democracy, but the goal remains to protect white supremacy.

In the end, these attacks on voting rights, while threatening to democracy, are also attacks on our UU principles. By denying the vote to some, the 1st, 2nd, and 5th principles are assaulted. Because these attacks are racist, our 8th principle is directly involved. By replacing democracy with an autocratic minority rule, all 8 principles may become unobtainable in our society. We must stand up to these attacks on our basic beliefs. 

2021-08-01 – Call to Prophetic Action – Undoing Systemic White Supremacy

This year at the 2021 UUA General Assembly there was a “Call of Prophetic Action” to all Unitarian Universalists, as individuals, for Undoing Systemic White Supremacy. This “call” is a means by which we, as UU’s are informed mechanism within our denomination that communicates that we are directed by our history social justice is spiritual work and is firmly grounded in our Unitarian Universalist heritage, theology, and values.

Here is an excerpt from this call:

“We call upon the Unitarian Universalist Association, Unitarian Universalist individuals, and congregations to actively engage in undoing systemic white supremacy in all of its manifestations. Systemic white supremacy refers to the embedded, institutional, and pervasive nature of racism, white privilege, and racial bias and oppression in our society. We acknowledge the impact of systemic white supremacy is intersectional, meaning it impacts people differently across race, income/class, gender, age, ethnicity, immigration status, sexual orientation, religion, disability, and more. As Unitarian Universalists, we decry the ways in which the intersectional impact of systemic white supremacy divides our human family by privileging some groups over others and thereby generating resistance to the common goal of universal equity and justice…. Most egregious, we are losing lives of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color all across this nation—from long-standing ills of police violence, to hate crimes, to emerging crises of the pandemic—due to the evil of systemic white supremacy. “

 Therefore, as Unitarian Universalists we must:

  •       Engage with the movement, in our communities and nation, to heal the evil of racism.
  •       Carry forward the recommended healing actions conveyed in “Widening the Circle of Concern
  •       Build relationships across boundaries of privilege and oppression.
  •       Fulfill our UU role as a spiritual anchor to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color UUs.

 While we at First U have already adopted the 8th Principle and, in doing so, committed ourselves to this path, seeing the UUA take this action further validates our commitment and should serve as additional motivation for us all.