When you walk around the General Assembly (GA) of Unitarian Universalists (our annual national gathering), people adorn their nametags with all kinds of ribbons and buttons. “Black Lives Matter.” “Honor Congregation” “I’m here for the ribbons.” My favorite pin had this quote from Alice Walker’s novel Possessing the Secret of Joy: “Resistance is the secret of joy.” That quote comes from the character Tashi, who only comes to this conclusion after surviving brutal, colonial violence. What is it we are resisting? The answer came across loud and clear at this GA: white supremacy culture.
The call put out to those of us gathered, again and again, was this: how can we dismantle and weed out the culture of white supremacy on which our faith rests? What is white supremacy culture exactly and what does it mean to resist it? When I return from my summer leave, I want to continue unpacking with you all the themes and lessons from this General Assembly (and fortunately, I have Pat E., Leroy E., and Matthew M. to help me!). There are so many forces at work that dehumanize us, no matter our race, ethnicity, or gender. And those forces work even more strongly and violently on those of us who are Black and Brown, on those of us who are women and gender-queer, on those of us who are LBGTQ, on those of us who are financially poorer. I believe wholeheartedly that, as Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King said, “In a real sense all life is inter-related. All men [sic] are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be.” And here in the Central Valley, we are blessed with so many opportunities to lean into the messy and complex inescapable network of mutuality.
As I begin a period of extended sabbath and reflection (I’m back online and in the office on Tuesday July 25th), I feel so ridiculously grateful to be navigating these days with you all, to being in spiritual and beloved community with you Unitarian Universalists of Stanislaus County. Thank you for letting me serve this faith of resistance and joy!
General Assembly Highlights:
- Reflections from the three co-interim presidents on their two months of work for the Unitarian Universalist Association (an brief article and the full video of the discussion): http://www.uuworld.org/articles/uua-copresidents-reflection
- The official report from the co-interim presidents (brief article and full video): http://www.uuworld.org/articles/co-presidents-report-2017-ga
- Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray elected president of the Unitarian Universalist Association: http://www.uuworld.org/articles/susan-frederick-gray-elected-president?utm_source=uuworld&utm_medium=front&utm_campaign=1st
- Activist and lawyer Bryan Stevenson delivered the prestigious Ware Lecture Saturday evening. And while you cannot view this year’s Ware Lecture, you can see a video here of a very similar speech he gave this year at the American College of Trial Lawyer’s conference.
- And if you want to do more background reading, here is a list of readings and videos to join in this conversation around white supremacy culture: http://www.uua.org/ga/ga-prep-resources
- And if you didn’t catch it, NPR’s All Things Considered did a brief story on this transformational moment in Unitarian Universalism: http://www.npr.org/2017/06/24/534248664/unitarian-universalists-denounce-white-supremacy-make-leadership-changes