Nope. Not me. No.

The first time I heard the phrase “white supremacy” directed at me it was not yelled across a protest line or flung in a hateful way. I was taking a class on sex and gender from the local community college. I had just been trained as a sexulaity educator  for young people and figured I needed to get some deeper understanding of things like intersex, fragile x and how gender and sex work in people and in our culture.

This course was offered by the psychology department, and I think it was probably one of those courses that was required for all students to graduate. The head of the department taught the course, and it was clear that she felt like she had one shot to reach these privileged young people from a wealthy Seattle suburb with some big concepts.

There was a lot of reading for the course, and if I remember correctly, it was so many years back that we still had to go buy a printed packet of readings from the bookstore. It was while sitting at a picnic table on campus in the bright spring sun that I read something that implicated middle class white women as upholding white supremacy.

Me? Really, me? I am married to a person of color, my kids are mixed race. I grew up in the inner city of Minneapolis, well, I went home at night but my mom’s daycare center was full of kids who were not white.  But, me? Surely not. I was not a hood-wearing, Aryan-brotherhood-supporting white person. No. I was one of the good ones without a racist bone in my body.

I dismissed the implication that I was part of the problem. I was part of the SOLUTION. I was aware of racism and working to remove it from our culture.

I didn’t get it.

It took a lot more reading and some painful mistakes on my part. But after some time, I think I might be getting it.

I was part of the problem. I AM part of the problem. Yes, that doesn’t mean I can’t be part of the solution, I can. I SHOULD. I am working every day to learn how to unlearn this. But the truth is that the culture that I grew up in and that I live in every day centers whiteness. The culture of my country views white as the default. Think about it, in most places at most times it takes another step to add “person of color” to the description of….whatever. Casting comes to mind. I know that across the country theaters use “color blind” casting but most of the time unless specified, the character is assumed to be white. Think of fiction….do you read a description of skin color if the person is white? Not usually. White is the assumed baseline. White is “normal.”

And if we’re honest. Our culture teaches not only that white is “normal” but that white is “better.”

THAT is white supremacy. Not only hoods and brotherhood, but holding “white” as the default and better. This is something we all learn without ever being taught. I’m upholding it, my Asian husband is upholding it, although he’s also ripping holes in it every single day. We can’t point at that person over there as the problem without also looking with steely eyes to our own hearts.

Today I am taking some time to read and study my own white supremacy. All these years after my firm rejection of my own white supremacy while reading on that community college campus, I am still fighting it. I will keep fighting it, starting in the only place that I control. Me.

For my UU siblings there is a call to action for a teach-in about white supremacy which began with a group of religious educators, doing what we do best, teaching. I hope you will join me.

#UUWhiteSupremacyTeachIn#BuildingANewWay

 

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Now. The time is now.

I am part of a happy little liberal faith. We sing. We donate to good causes. We fight injustice. Simple, right?

Yeah. Nope.

We have recently gone thru a crisis. And I really mean it. A full-on crisis. My friend saw injustice and in looking closer, she smelled a rat and then she brought that rat out for all of us to look at.

We are Unitarian Universalists. Church of the open mind The loving heart and the helping hands. Inclusion. Radical acceptance. Proactive structures that prevent biased hiring.

Not the church of the all white staff. Who is again, with a new hire, now debuting an all white staff.

What is true is not that we are open and proactive and moving forward. What is true is that we are apparently looking for the right “fit” when we hire. We do not live this thing that we talk about and wear t-shirts about and hang signs on our church proclaiming. Not enough, not always, not in the way we white folks think we are…..

And I will admit. What made me scrub my kitchen floor with a little blood and a lot of tears and probably too much bleach was the statement from the president of the UUA that religious educators don’t have enough management experience to be hired as staff leaders.

I know that’s wrong. I know my people, the ones who can pull off miracles of staffing/programs and finance sometimes from thin air are the ones who make this faith tick. I know it. I DID it.

I see it every day when I go to work. I serve these people in one of the most humble repeated daily rituals of my life. It’s my job. They cry with families, cook food for a whole homeless teen feed on their own, they whip up worship and fire crappy staffers and make ministry of even a middle school class. EVEN A MIDDLE SCHOOL CLASS, do you know how hard that can be? If, perhaps, some staff groups in existence now had this kind of resourcefulness in house, we would be a better faith for it. We would have grown more. We would not have so many meetings or so much travel, but instead, would be DOING things that matter.

And. And and and. That is not the crux of this. The issue at the center of our crisis is that this stoic old faith is still, clearly, holding strong to the belief that white is normal. White is the starting point. White is the core of who we are.

This faith is holding on to white supremacy. Our faith is holding onto patriarchy. We are not who we can be. We default to centering whiteness. Yes. Me, too. Yes, likely, you too. And no we are not talking about the Aryan nation, or the KKK. Centering whiteness, believing that white is the baseline that white is normal is also holding this.

And so, I, as a white person and a Unitarian Universalist insist that hiring practices in the UUA must change. That congregations must change, that we white folks must change. Let us commit to hiring more people of color. Let us examine the way we hire leaders, and let us examine our definition of “management experience” to conform with the best practices in our living congregations.

Let us see a 25% increase in people of color in leadership at the UUA and across our movement by 2019 and let us see non-ordained religious professionals as an increased cohort of respected colleagues on regional staff teams.

Together we white people can examine our inherent biases. Together we can make amends to our siblings in the movement. Together we can build a new path toward justice and love. Together we can find a way.

And who is in the lead, knocking down barriers and old ways of doing things? Who are our leaders?

Religious Educators. Let us not lose sight of who is making things happen in this good faith. It is our fierce and fearless religious educators leading the way.

#BuildingNewWay #25percentIncreaseBy2019 #UUA

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FIGHT LIKE HELL!

I’m wearing my favorite Hillary campaign t-shirt. No, not because I live in some dream land where Hillary is president. I don’t. I live right here in Trump’s America where the time I spend in lovely downtown Huntington Beach, California is with a protest sign and a threat that the police will arrest me if I step foot near the office of my member of Congress.

I suited up in my Hillary gear because I need to feel like there is hope for my country. Post-election I was sure that what had happened had to be some massive mistake. How could people vote for a candidate with the values of a carnival huckster?

On the day the electoral college met and did NOT do their civic duty, I cried in the grocery store and bought the really good lavender fabric softener to sooth my soul.

I marched in the Women’s March and signed up with my local Indivisible group and, because I was the first person to click “Join” on the congressional district page, I got to be an administrator.  A month of speaking before groups about Indivisible, being interviewed by the LA Times, local ABC radio and ThinkProgress was heady and exciting. I felt like we were making a difference! We were visiting our MoC, people were joining us in droves, we were on the Rachel Maddow show!

Then my dog got sick. Really sick. I had to step back from everything I could possibly step back from. For a long time I couldn’t feel anything but dread about my pup. And then, just when we thought she was going to be fine, she had an awful relapse and we had to let her go.

Here I am now. A week out from losing my girl. The news is awful. Terrible. I mean, isn’t what we are talking about from the Trump campaign called treason? Does it not come with the death penalty? Am I seeing most of the Republicans, including my member of Congress who calls Putin a “Chicago Mayor Daly-style politician, fall in lock step with a traitor?

Hillary had to re-invent herself at age 50 out of the ashes of the Lewinsky scandal. Hillary had to pull her husband out of a horrific loss and put him on the right path so he could be governor again after he lost. Hillary had to give up the dream of what she always wanted to be because people didn’t believe in her. Hillary did it. She still smiles. She still reads books and goes for long walks in the woods and enjoys her grandchildren. She still believes in this messed-up damn country.

Lily and I miss Noodles, but we are fired up.

Today it’s not about politics for me. It’s personal. I may not have always agreed with Secretary Clinton’s stand on all the issues. But one thing we can say is that this woman knows how to fight like hell. Fight like hell. If she can, maybe I can. This country is not for the haters. It’s not about keeping people down, it’s about lifting each other up. We can’t stop working for each other. It’s too important. There is too much on the line.

I still got a lot of fight left in me. And I got a t-shirt to prove it.