Anti-Racism, Anti-Oppression & the 8th Principle
Anti-racism work is like peeling the metaphorical onion. You take off one layer, only to discover ever more subtle (and tearfully painful) layers of how white supremacy works. Blatant racial prejudice and acts of white superiority and supremacy are only the first layers. Start peeling that onion and you find layers of white supremacy you didn’t even know existed. During my interim with the UU Church of Annapolis (UUCA), we began peeling that metaphorical onion in April 2018 with the adoption of the 8th Principle, which affirms:
We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, covenant to affirm and promote: journeying toward spiritual wholeness by working to build a diverse multicultural Beloved Community by our actions that accountably dismantle racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions.”
It’s one thing to pass a resolution. It’s another thing to figure out how to embody those words so that they become a reality in our personal and institutional lives. Guided by the proactive insights of Tema Okun and Kenneth Jones in their essay “White Supremacy Culture,” the Board and the whole ministry team examined white supremacy culture at all levels of church governance, from the Senior Interim Minister position to the governing policies and oral traditions of how the church operates.
Throughout the course of these past two years, I’ve learned much about the amount of attention it takes to de-center whiteness. Because of its gifted, culturally diverse leadership, UUCA continues to grow and attract more people and families of color. My colleague, Rev. John T. Crestwell Jr., has envisioned a truly multicultural church whose worship reflects both theological and cultural diversity. Joshua Long, Membership Coordinator and Director of Music Ensembles, has guided and shaped the music and membership programs, making UUCA a more welcoming place to people of color. The Building Beloved Community Committee (BBC) has worked hard to keep the church’s eye, and my eye, squarely on our commitment to de-centering whiteness and living into the aspirations of the 8th Principle.
Practicing the 8th Principle is a core commitment for me, both personally and institutionally. The work is never finished and I still have much to learn. I undertake the daily task of confronting and challenging racism and other oppressions within myself and in the institutions I serve with joy, hope and love.