As UUCT engages in the process of adopting an 8th Principle it is important to understand what the mission really is. Rather than thinking about dismantling racism and other oppressions, as stated in the 8th Principle, we can think about it in positive terms like the ACLU does and think of it as building systemic equity.
The ACLU goes on to describe the pillars upon which systemic equity are built. They include reconciling the past, extending empowerment, building prosperity, and increasing access.
To reconcile our nation’s past, substantial investments and resources will be needed to repair the damage done by centuries of slavery and discriminatory government policies. Two things need to be done to accomplish this goal. First an honest effort to assess how reparations can best be provided to those most harmed by past social norms and government policies. Second, make a sincere effort to decriminalize school discipline.
To extend empowerment the barriers that impede black and brown voters from participating fully in the democratic process to elect their own candidates sensitive to their needs must be removed. To accomplish that, voter rights must be protected and expanded. Furthermore, the politics of racism must be removed from legislative redistricting. In addition, our location in the deep south makes any work we do to organize and advocate for racial equity even more significant in a region of the country that has a blemished history of racism and violence.
To build prosperity we can fill the gaps in wealth between Black and white households that have come about as the result of the accumulated inequality and discrimination, as well as differences in power and opportunity that can be traced back to this nation’s inception. This can be done by cancelling student loans, providing just banking services, ensuring and expanding a refundable child tax credit, and in our own organization making the commitment to ensure people of color are included, elevated, and promoted as well as seeking Black-owned and Black-Led contractors to perform facility services.
To increase access, we need to advocate for leveling the playing field so that every person has the necessary tools to achieve their highest potential and thrive. We can accomplish this by expanding high speed internet access, affirmatively furthering fair housing, eliminating barriers to reentry for returning citizens, and ending algorithmic bias.
So, if our church does decide to adopt the 8th Principle, we’ll have some milepost markers available to guide us as we actively engage in building “Systemic Equity”.