The folks behind the I Am UU project hope to encourage, inspire, and equip you to share the best of Unitarian Universalism with the world. Our goal is to make it easier, in conversation or when talking about things that your faith calls you to do in the world, to tell people “I am UU” and follow it up with some appropriate information and maybe even an invitation for further discussion or a visit to services.
To encourage and enable the sharing of our values and the affirmation and promotion of the principles of the UUA, we proudly proclaim that #BlackLivesMatter. We don’t proclaim that any lives don’t matter, but that since all live matter, it is important to speak up when a certain group is being oppressed, being marginalized or being mistreated. We don’t hold vigils for those who made it home safely. We don’t hold food drives for those who are full. We are called to lift up those who have fallen and to support those who have been hurt. That is why it is important to say that #BlackLivesMatter.
We understand that it makes some people uncomfortable. We honestly are surprised we don’t see more anger, given what we read in the comments on the Standing on the Side of Love and even the UUA’s official Facebook page. We do see it, though, and this is what it looks like:
This is the kind of thing we see all over the internet, and it is understandable coming from huge swaths of North America where people don’t see the daily injustice, and are comfortable in their ignorance. It is troubling to see it from Unitarian Universalists, even as so many congregations have made public statements and acts of witness that Black lives do indeed matter. A responsible search for truth requires that we watch and listen when people tell us they are hurting; that we not ignore what we can do to help them.
People are hurting. They are hurting because they were born with dark skin in a place where that is still a minority condition, and where that condition has historically kept them from opportunity. Because it has historically kept them from opportunity, they have family histories of lower incomes, leading to lower education and fewer chances to network, leading to a cycle of reduced opportunity. And even if they have an education, the tone of their skin makes them less desirable as employees. Studies show that the color of their skin makes them seem more menacing to many people, including those with the authority to kill them for being menacing.
Our congregations are not pledged to uphold the status quo. We are not covenanted to make people comfortable. We promise to one another and the world that we will (among other things) affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person. When black people are being oppressed and their concerns are being ignored, we have a duty to say to them, “We hear you, and we care. We will affirm your inherent worth and dignity. Black lives DO matter.”
If all lives matter, and they should, then we need to stand up to systems of marginalization and oppression. We need to demand justice and due process. We need to hold those with power and authority accountable. If all lives matter to you, then you must be willing to turn to the hurting, the disenfranchised, and the victimized and say, “Yes, your lives matter, and I will stand with you until there is no doubt.”
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