“Ultimately, white people must come to their own understanding of why it is in their interests to dismantle a system that does not work for all humanity and commit to something better.”
This Task Force was created by concerned members after a racial incident in Claremont and Durham, New Hampshire, at the beginning of the 2017-18 school year. A number of us had already been attending Anti-Racism workshops and conferences. The events in Claremont and Durham helped remind us that Racism is everywhere. We desired to display a Black Lives Matter banner at the Fellowship, but recognized that it would be important to educate ourselves and the congregation first.
“White Supremacy is a political, economic and cultural system in which whites overwhelmingly control power and material resources.” ~Frances Lee Ansley
“White Supremacy is a set of institutional assumptions and practices, often operating unconsciously, that tend to benefit white people and exclude people of color.” ~BLUU(Black Lives Unitarian Universalist)
Becoming Woke – refers to the experience of white people “waking up” to realize the privileges they have taken for granted because of the color of their skin. (see Peggy MacIntosh’s article “Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” at https://www.pcc.edu/resources/illumination/…/white-privilege-essay-mcintosh.pdf )
Five of us began meeting twice a month to talk about the culture of White Supremacy, to share books and articles and to plan ways to educate the congregation. We sent a letter to the Board explaining our hope about adopting a resolution at the 2018 Annual Meeting (May 20, 2018) to raise a BLM banner at our Fellowship, and we received the Board’s blessing to move forward.
Since then we have been holding after-service discussions and sharing information and resources in the monthly newsletter.We have taken on three new members, set up a loan library at the Fellowship and sponsored a trip to Portsmouth, NH. to walk the Black Heritage Trail.
Following Starr King’s approval of a resolution to install a “Black Lives Matter” banner this Fall, the White Supremacy Awareness Task Force – Becoming Woke has become The Black Lives Matter Task Force. The Fellowship has charged us with implementing the resolution, including conducting community outreach and selecting the design and placement of the banner on our building. We thank you for supporting our work and for entrusting us with these duties.
Anti-Racism Loan Library
Thanks to our Endowment Fund, the Task Force has been purchasing books on issues of Racism and White Supremacy. You will find the book rack on the lower level of the Fellowship Building. Here are some of the titles with short descriptions. Please remember to sign them out.
- Waking Up White and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving (Elephant Room Press, 2014). Reviewed by Jessica Fleming
Irving tells her story of growing up in the old New England tradition of not offending anyone. As an adult she goes through an awakening to her whiteness and invites thoughtful answers to provoking questions at the end of each section. Would be an excellent book for a discovery and discussion.
- When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrice Khan-Cullors and asha brandele (St. Martin’s Press, 2018). Reviewed by Cindy Spring
The slogan #BlackLivesMatter began as a response to the acquittal of George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer who shot and killed 17-year old Trayvon Martin. This is the story of the background and the ripples, then waves, that have happened since. An easy read, and a disturbing one.
- Centering: Navigating Race, Authenticity, and Power in Ministry
Rev. Mitra Rahnema, editor (Skinner House, 2017). Reviewed by Paul Phillips
Unitarian Universalist ministers of color share their experiences ministering to mostly white UU congregations. A book that invites deep reflection on the ways we practice our seven principles.
- The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander. (New Press, 2012). Reviewed by Stew Weldon
In some states, black men have been imprisoned on drug charges at rates 20 to 50 times greater than those of white men. And in major cities wracked by drug war, as many as 80% of young African American men now have criminal records and are thus subject to legalized discrimination for the rest of their lives. These
young men are part of a growing under-caste, permanently locked up and locked out of mainstream society.
- Just Mercy – A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson (Spiegel & Grau, 2015). Reviewed by Cindy Spring
Stevenson tells the story of his experiences with Walter McMillan, a black man convicted of murder who at the time was on death row in Alabama. The year was 1983 and the author was a young black lawyer from the North. It is an easy read since it is mainly “storytelling,” but devastating to realize how little justice there was/is for people of color in the South.
- Unitarian Universalists of Color, Stories of Struggle, Courage, Love and Faith (Lulu Publishing Services, 2017). Reviewed by Nancy Chaddock
Fifteen authors tell their stories of being people of color in UU congregations. It is heartbreaking to learn of the difficulties these people of our faith have had, and continue to have, within UU congregations merely because of skin color. As one writer puts it, being in a UU congregation of mostly white people can be exhausting.
- So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo (Seal Press, 2018). Reviewed by Paul Phillips
A very accessible “how-to” approach to discussing racial issues that offers incisive insights on topics like micro-aggressions, cultural appropriation, and the school-to- prison pipeline.
- Journeys of Race, Color & Culture: From Racial Inequality to Equity & Inclusion by Rick Huntley, Rianna Moore and Carol Pierce (New Dynamics, 2017). Reviewed by Cindy Spring
This guidebook was designed to foster dialogue across the racial divide in the United States. It includes a complex continuum of the process toward equality for both white people and people of color. The book explains the journeys and the many set-backs as one moves to a greater understanding of what it means to be simply human.
1 http://www.newsweek.com/biracial-boy- hanging-new- hampshire-update- 676945
2 2017/09/12/oyster-river- new-hampshire- racial-incident/