Getting to Know Susan: Susan’s Call to Ministry

     @sfrederickgray

     /revsusanfrederickgray

I am continuing to listen and follow and prayerfully reflect on the conversation unfolding over the lack of diversity at the Senior, Management and Regional staff at the UUA. This is a critical conversation and I am grateful for leaders of color making the conversation public.

The systems and structures of white supremacy and white privilege are indeed bigger than us, but they also live in each of us and in our institutions. Unpacking and dismantling them is not easy work. And it doesn’t come without pain and discomfort, but it is important to stay in the conversation, to not let defensiveness block our capacity to listen and learn from one another. This conversation is giving us an importance chance to make significant change. Let’s not let it go.

Partnership and collaboration are at the center of my campaign and vision for the UUA. This is because real change can never be driven fully or only from the inside of any institution. The UUA President and leadership must create more intentional, accountable and collaborative partnerships with UU identity based ministries, including Black Lives of UU and Diverse Revolutionary and Multicultural Ministries (DRUUMM), EqUUal Access and TRUUST, to shape the goals, strategies and leadership of our faith. We must also be partners for the longterm with movements for liberation led by people of color.

While serving our congregation in Phoenix, our partnerships with grassroots movements for liberation led by young, undocumented, women, men and queer people of color has shaped my leadership in ways I could never have done on my own or solely within Unitarian Universalism. Partnership is critical to pulling us out of the narrow confines of the cultures of our institutions that keep us small so we may increasingly see our faith and mission in deep relationship to larger movements for spiritual liberation that offer hope and possibility for humanity and the planet.

Here are four ways that we can recommit and live into being an anti-racist, counter-oppressive, multicultural religious movement:
First, we have to put this vision at the forefront of everything we do. Our work on counter-oppression and multiculturalism must not be a silo part of the UUA but at the heart of all the work.

Second, specific metrics are needed to measure progress on this vision. Our strategic ends call us to a multicultural future but we do not have clear measures that compel accountability. I would support a clear goal of increasing people of color in the UUA leadership by 25% by 2019. I also believe a goal of 20% of our leadership being people of color by 2020 is not out of our reach. It would be a stretch goal to really push us to make significant change. Additionally, we need to recruit more non-ministerial religious professionals and lay people into high-level staff and regional leadership.

Third, this work requires everyone to deepen their capacity for change. The work of counter-oppression is white people’s work. I support a requirement that 100% of UUA leadership, management and regional staff have regular anti-oppression training and experience and that counter-oppressive and collaborative practices are modeled at the UUA.

Fourth, I would institute collaborative hiring processes for all senior and regional lead staff. Hiring decisions are one of the most important times in an organization. We need diverse voices in our hiring teams to have a wide enough view to see all that is needed.
We are a people of faith and of covenant. Staying engaged, listening to the truth we each have to speak and allowing that truth to deepen and widen our perspective is the foundation of what it means to live our covenantal faith.

I am committed to this conversation and the changes we need to make. As UUA President, I would be accountable to specific and measurable outcomes in the diversity of UUA staff and I will bring an unwavering commitment to collaborative leadership to bring more voices to shape our faith and our path forward.
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As a candidate for UUA President, I have been following the conversations naming the lack of racial diversity at the highest levels of leadership at the UUA. I am also mindful of the pain and hurt and even confusion that arises as we try to live into an anti-oppressive vision.

Moving from our hopes to sustained change is where the real work lives. From my experience in Phoenix, I have learned that we must be explicit in the vision we hope to achieve and set clear and measurable targets for achieving the vision. This provides transparency and accountability for our progress and failures. And when it comes to living into a multiracial, anti-oppressive future, we must develop deep partnerships with those on the front lives of change, and practice collaborative leadership that brings more voices and perspectives to shape the work and strategies.

As UUA President, I will be committed to moving our faith and Association forward as an anti-racist, anti-oppressive, anti-patriarchal, and multicultural institution. Here are specific actions I will take:

1. Place anti-oppression and multiculturalism at the heart of our vision so it may inform not just a part of our Association, but the whole.

2. Model leadership and power structures that are collaborative, transparent and accountable.

3. Strengthen partnerships with DRUUM and BLUU to inform outcomes, strategies and leadership development of people of color across the Association.

4. Develop deeper partnerships beyond our faith as a way to move beyond narrow cultural norms to see our work in the larger work of collective liberation.

5. Create measurable targets for increasing the multi-racial, multicultural, feminist/womanist leadership within Unitarian Universalism, including specific targets for the diversity of senior and management staff, and hiring procedures that require people of color be interviewed in all major hiring.

6. Measure against the targets. Learn from successes and failures. Keep on the path.

None of us alone has the fullness of perspective needed to live into the vision of where our faith calls us. We need practices that deepen relationship and collaboration that we might hear one another, understand the pain we, our institutions and society create, and love our way forward together.
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Benjamin Craft-Rendon, Rev. Jennifer Brooks and 10 others like this

Juliejohn Wallace Knott#6 is seldom practiced, I look forward to it's implementation. Starting with metrics on the various "slogans" our denomination has issued over the Years: "Nourish Your Spirit, Heal Our World", "Unitarian Universalism the Uncommon Denomination", "A Spiritual Home Beyond Belief"...we're supposed to be a church that values logic as well as spiritual growth and nurturance of community.

4 days ago   ·  1
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Thank you, Katie, for your endorsement!
Thank you for your endorsement Michelle.
Thank you Clif for your endorsement!