As I write this, thousands are gathering in cities all over the country in protest of the systemic racism highlighted in the news in recent weeks. It is important to know that these acts of violence were not “new” or isolated events. They cannot be discounted as “simply a matter” of individual power-holders run amok.
The physical and psychological abuse of people of color was and remains a defining principle of this country. It allowed European settlers to justify the enslavement and slaughter, the degradation and dehumanization of multitudes. Just as it allows their fair-skinned descendents to do so today – turning a blind eye to the link between their own privilege, and the many expressions of suffering, grief and rage seen now on the nightly news.
Racism, in any form, is incompatible with Unitarian Universalist values. It is incompatible with commitment to the inherent worth and dignity of every person, and with a goal of world community, with peace, liberty and justice for all. It is incompatible with a values-driven commitment to justice, equity and compassion. It is a blight upon the land and upon the soul, that can no longer be denied, or defended.
As a fair-skinned Unitarian Universalist committed to justice-making and celebration of diversity, within a denomination that does not adequately reflect diversity, within a country that continues to marginalize and penalize people of color, I ask you to join me in renewal of that commitment.
Black lives matter! This is the time to open our eyes, hearts and minds – and to ask ourselves hard questions about privilege and responsibility, about guilt and fear, and what it takes to create the kind of world we proclaim to desire.
Racism is not an elective issue, secondary to the concerns of this religious community. It is central. It is not new or geographically isolated. It has to do with each and every one of us.
Let us pray, as we will, for justice to prevail. But let us, foremost, recognize ourselves as called to bring it to life.
– Reverend Stefanie Etzbach-Dale, 12/13/14