2022-06-19 – Attributes of White Supremacy Culture: Power Hoarding

As we work to dismantle racism in our institution, we are continuing our exploration of the attributes of White Supremacy Culture. Today we will look at the last one; Power Hoarding.

Power in an institution is controlled both through formal structures and informal relationships.

Power hoarding can be seen if there is little perceived value in sharing power, if power is seen as a limited commodity with only so much to go around, and if people in power feel threatened or personally attacked if anyone suggests changes in how things are done.

When there is power hoarding those in power don’t recognize that they are hoarding power or that they feel threatened by suggested changes. They believe they have the best interests of the organization at heart and see those suggesting changes are ill-informed, emotional, or inexperienced. They attack those suggesting changes rather than look at the suggestions as an indication that something is wrong. 

The antidotes for this require changes to institutional practices for governance and decision-making:

  • Power sharing should be an explicitly stated value
  • Power sharing and development of others must be goals against which leaders are evaluated
  • Leaders must understand that change is inevitable and challenges to leadership are often healthy and productive
  • Leaders should never take challenges personally
  • Focus on mission and values, rather than staying in business for the sake of staying in business
  • Leaders must learn and practice the racial equity principle of “know yourself”. Act from a place of integrity rather than fear or anxiety about your importance



2022-06-12 – Juneteenth

Next Sunday is Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day. Juneteenth  commemorates an important step towards the end of slavery in the United States. It was only recently declared a federal holiday. On this day, the nation comes together to acknowledge and celebrate the end of the Civil War and chattel slavery in this country. On June 19th 1865 the Emancipation Proclamation was read in Galveston, Texas, almost three years after it had been issued and a month after the Civil War ended. 

Many local communities are celebrating this holiday this year.   

Our congregation should take pride in again being one of the financial sponsor’s of the local Juneteenth Celebration in Scotch Plains which will take place at the historic Shady Rest Golf and Country Club next Saturday. I encourage you to come join the celebration and revel in the moment.  But also join in to acknowledge the importance of the ongoing struggle. While the Emancipation Proclamation declared slaves in the rebel states free, slavery continued in the Union until the passage of the 13th Amendment in December of 1865 and legal challenges persisted in Texas until 1874. 

The legacy of slavery continues today.  We need to raise our voices to pass legislation for the Reparation Task Force, to close youth prisons, for same day voter registration, and police accountability.  You can do this by writing to legislators or by joining other UU’s and local organizations at the New Jersey Social Justice Institute March and Rally for Reparations, Justice, and Democracy in Newark NJ this Friday.  (i will put some links in the chat with more information about writing legislators) 

Celebrate Juneteenth as a way of telling those who would drag us backward that we will continue moving forward toward justice, equity, and equality for all.

Here are some links if you are interested in taking action and write to legislators

For Reparations Task Force http://www.400yearsnj.org/

To Close Youth Prisons http://kidsnotprisons.org/

Same-Day Voter Registration democracyinaday.org

Police Accountability policeaccountabilitynj.org

Juneteenth March and Rally for Reparations, Justice & Democracy

#150 Years is Enough 

March and Rally in Newark June 17

Raise your voice to pass legislations for Reparations Task Force (A938/s386), invest in youth and close youth prisons, same day voter registration (A1966/s247) and for police accountability


12 pm March from Seated LincolnStatue (Market St & Springfield Ave.)

1:30 pm Rally at Newark City Hall (920 Broad St)


Masking and Social Distancing Encouraged

Social Justice Matters Juneteenth Celebration in Scotch Plains

June 18th

Shady Rest Golf and Country Club


Tour the Shady Rest Museum 

Vendors, Music, Mini Golf, workshops, Golf putting competition 

This year there are many children activities

Amani – will play again from 6 to 7:30


For more info https://www.socialjusticematters.org/

2022-06-05 – Attributes of White Supremacy Culture: Fear of Conflict

As we work to dismantle racism in our institution, we are continuing our exploration of the attributes of White Supremacy Culture. Today we will look at Fear of Conflict.

To be more specific, it’s fear of open conflict. People in power do not want conflict expressed. They try to ignore it or run away from it. When open conflict does occur the response is frequently to blame the person raising the issue rather than actually examining the problem. They are accused of being impolite or rude and can be implicitly or explicitly punished for raising the issue. A response to people angrily expressing an opinion is to be told to “calm down”. As the internet meme instructs us, “NEVER in the history of calming down has anyone ever calmed down by being told to calm down.”

The antidotes for this require significant changes to institutional culture as conflict needs to be seen as a valid means of transformative justice. There are many changes that can be undertaken, including:

  • Plan for ways to handle conflict before it happens
  • Distinguish between being polite and raising hard issues
  • Don’t reject discussing hard issues when raised in a way that can be seen as rude or disruptive
  • Be transparent about power and decision making processes before engaging in conflict
  • Engage a third party to support exploration of the conflict
  • Once a conflict is resolved, review what happened to see how it might have been handled differently



2022-05-29 – White Supremacy Culture in Action – Mental Health and Gun Violence

Once again, this week we will set aside our ongoing exploration of the attributes of White Supremacy Culture and turn to the news. Guns have grabbed the headlines again. We are once again grieving the loss of children and two of their teachers who gave their lives to try to protect them and it had been just ten days since the massacre in Buffalo, New York.

When challenged to institute even the most basic gun control legislation; legislation that had proven effective but had been allowed to expire, those in thrall to the NRA and gun manufacturers have once again raised the issue of mental health. 

While the mental health of people who commit these crimes can justifiably be questioned, is addressing mental health really the solution? Which demographic group has the least access to mental health treatment and which has the greatest access? Black women and white men, respectively. Which group is most likely to commit mass shootings and which is least likely? White men and black women, respectively. 

Should we, as a society, put more money into healthcare, especially mental health care? Yes, absolutely. If we direct that aid where it’s most needed, will it actually be directed towards those who commit these crimes of terror? No, it won’t. If it is directed towards white males, we’ll once again be short-changing the black women in need of additional mental health resources.

Moreover, when those who are looking to avoid gun control are talking about mental health we must ask if they are looking to provide health care or to criminalize mental illness.

The epidemic of school shootings in the US is a problem of White Supremacy Culture. It’s about an entitlement to power. It’s about not just acceptance, but idolization of the use of force in conflict resolution. Until we change the basic value structures of this country we will continue to see mass shootings. We must establish sensible controls over gun ownership and use. We must also provide adequate healthcare for all. 

2022-05-22 – Attributes of White Supremacy Culture: Objectivity

As we work to dismantle racism in our institution, we are continuing our exploration of the attributes of White Supremacy Culture. Today we will look at objectivity.

This is a particularly difficult one for many to grasp, especially UU’s who pride themselves on rationalism and enlightenment.

To begin with, the belief that there is such a thing as being objective needs to be examined. We are all bound by our language and culture. It defines how we view our universe. Can we truly be objective?

Objectivity includes the belief that emotions are inherently destructive, irrational, and should not play a role in decision-making or group process. This point of view invalidates people who show emotion. It also requires that people think in a linear fashion and those who think in other ways are ignored and invalidated.

Antidotes for this are based in valuing everyone as individuals. :

  • Realize that everybody has a world view and that everybody’s world view affects the way they understand things; realize this means you too; 
  • Push yourself to sit with discomfort when people are expressing themselves in ways which are not familiar to you; 
  • Assume that everybody has a valid point and your job is to understand what that point is