Towards an Anti-Racist, Counter-Oppressive, Multicultural Religious Movement

Print I am continuing to listen and follow and prayerfully reflect on the conversation unfolding over the lack of diversity at of the Senior, Management and Regional staff at the UUA. This is a critical conversation and I am grateful for the leaders of our 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 with our pain and discomfort, but I 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 partnership with UU identity based ministries, including Black Lives of UU and Diverse Revolutionary and Multicultural Ministries (DRUUMM), with TRUUST and EqUUal Access 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 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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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 religious movement. 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 that offers real transformative power for our faith.

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