What does it mean to be an ally in our fight against racial injustices?

by Nathalie Edmond
Racial Justice Initiative Co-leader and member of the Council for Faith in Action

I sense that 2016 was an awakening for many people in terms of how much work still needs to be done regarding racial justice. In 2016 the Racial Justice Project at UUCWC transitioned to the Racial Justice Initiative acknowledging the ongoing commitment the church has towards advocating for justice and equity.

What does it mean to be an ally in our fight against racial injustices? I read that an “ally” is someone from a “majority” group who works to fight against oppression in their personal life and is an advocate for an oppressed group. Becoming an ally takes time and is a process of self-discovery and awareness which often needs to precede action. You can find more tips on becoming an ally: https://www.nasco.coop/files/ally_packet.pdf.

As part of the initiative we spent much of the fall having informational sessions and listening circles to understand the new civil rights movement- Black Lives Matter- and why it might be important for a predominantly white congregation to be an ally for this movement. The phrase Black Lives Matter tends to stir up a variety of emotions for people, partly because of the long history of racial injustice (some overt and some covert) against black people in this country. While the commitment to understanding and fighting against racial injustice towards black people has not changed the 2016 presidential election highlighted the many oppressed groups in our society that need allies such as Muslims and undocumented immigrants. The Council for Faith in Action will be expanding its racial justice initiative to include the needs of all these oppressed groups.

Some of you may be looking for ways to be an ally or a space to process social justice issues. Gathering in Faith and Action is a new group that will be meeting monthly to explore ways to be an ally and fight against injustices on individual and institutional levels. Next meeting is Sunday, January 29th and Sunday, February 26th at 12:30 pm. Babysitting is available. There is also a closed facebook page that you can join to learn about/share issues related to social justice. It is called UUCWC Faith in Action and here is the link to join: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1723903287926116/

UUCWC is participating in the Beloved Conversations curriculum this year as part of our journey to have open dialogues about race and its legacy on us as individuals as well as our congregation and larger society. The idea is that one cannot move forward and effectively engage in racial justice work without a better understanding of our own privilege and implicit bias. Often conversations about race put the burden on people of color to educate white people on racism and white supremacy. Beloved Conversations highlights the different spiritual needs of people of color in these race conversations. Here is an excerpt from the curriculum, “People of color have been trained to protect the feelings and prioritize the comfort of whit people…We believe that racial caucusing is important because it acknowledges that our experiences in the world are deeply impacted by our racial identity, and the way the world sees us. We are all harmed by racism, but people of color are harmed in very different ways than white people…Race caucusing strengthens us in the work of anti-oppression, and allows us to build up the resiliency and groundedness necessary to forgive each other and stay at the table when things get hard in our work together.” Based on this premise as well as a growing need for spiritual connection as issues of racism are more apparent in society a People of Color Circle has been created that will meet monthly. All those who identify as a person of color are welcome to attend.

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