Tend the Spark, Carry the Flame

 

Progressing toward Antiracism and Multiculturalism

By Jennifer Carver

This week, we’d like to give more information about the groups in our congregation that are working on antiracism and racial justice. We have work to do – within ourselves, our congregation, the community, and beyond. At the risk of oversimplifying, we are all at different stages on the path to becoming actively anti-racist and work to address systemic racism faced by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC).

UUCT’s BIPOC group is an informal group of self-identifying people of color coming together to share and support each other. The work of antiracism is not theirs to do. Those of us who do not identify as BIPOC must work to make change. Several other ongoing groups within UUCT are providing safe spaces for this work, no matter where you are on this journey toward antiracism and multiculturalism.

The Emergent Strategy group came together to discuss Adrienne Maree Brown’s book, “Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds.” Members of the group then offered the UUA’s anti-racist curriculum Building the World We Dream About to the UUCT community, monthly sessions for a year. In November 2020, Emergent Strategy began a group reading of “Love and Rage” by Lama Rod Owens. This group operates by consensus to determine its future activities. Future activities will likely continue to involve closed group readings for the purposes of spiritual growth and community building among the participants. Between these readings, the group may undertake a larger project (such as the Building the World WE Dream About sessions.

The Allies for Racial Equity group (ARE@UUCT) began meeting bi-weekly in early September 2020. Patterning itself after the UUA-related organization, Allies for Racial Equity, in structure and purpose, ARE@UUCT members share leadership and make decisions by consensus. The group is grounded in our UU Principles and prioritizes relationship building, with the goal to understand whiteness and privilege, unlearn and challenge white supremacy, and confront racism in ways that are accountable to communities of color, especially UUCT’s BIPOC group. ARE@UUCT has used the resources in “My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies” by Resmaa Menakem, “Equipping Anti-Racism Allies Unitarian Universalist Edition: Fighting Racism…One Conversation at a Time” by Dr. David W. Campt and Alison Mahaley, and the reflection prompts in “Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor” by Layla Saad. Two groups are currently meeting to work through the 28 sessions of study and reflection included in “Me and White Supremacy,” and future explorations will pair that work with “Be Antiracist: A Journal for Awareness, Reflection, and Action” by Ibram X. Kendi. ARE@UUCT is in accountable relationship with local communities of color and UUCT’s BIPOC group, and future actions will support the work of antiracism at UUCT and in Leon County.

The Centering BIPOC Voices book group reads books by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) authors. By reading non-fiction, fiction and memoirs, participants seek to better understand how racism and other forms of oppression affect all our lives. The group expects better understanding will help us develop as antiracists. Centering BIPOC Voices meets monthly (on Zoom) to discuss a book selected by the group. Books are chosen at least two months in advance to afford everyone, both continuing and newly attending discussants, a chance to secure and read it. Facilitation of the discussion rotates between volunteers who offer three books from which the group will select one. To be considered, books must be available in audio, digital and print formats to heighten reader inclusivity. The meetings and selected books are announced in the Meridian, again with about two months notice. Everyone who has read the book and agrees with the principles of behavioral covenant the group has adopted is welcome to join any discussion. The group plans to continue meeting, and hopes to interest even more readers, for the foreseeable future. As there are at least 90 books on the non-fiction, fiction, and memoir list that is maintained by the group, the continued interest of members could easily carry the book discussions forward for 7 years.

We appreciate those who have created and participated in these groups as we Tend the Spark and Carry the Flame of antiracism and multiculturalism at UUCT and in our community.