Continuing the Dialogue: Youth and Racism
General Assembly 2000 Event 251
Presenters: Mimi LaValley, Melanie Griffin
Mimi LaValley, member of the Young Religious Unitarian Universalist (YRUU) Steering Committee, and Melanie Griffin, who has been active in YRUU doing anti-racism work for the last year, led a workshop entitled "Continuing the Dialogue: Youth and Racism." This workshop was well attended, with all age groups in attendance.
LaValley and Griffin began by telling the audience that the Unitarian Universalist Association has long been involved in anti-racist efforts, but that the youth have been notably non-committal. As a break from this however, and in keeping with the Youth Committee's desire for greater YRUU involvement in General Assemblies in particular and the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) in general, the Youth Committee generated a plan which outlines several steps to be taken in order to further the cause of anti-racism.
Griffin detailed several steps to be taken at the local and district levels in an effort to help promote anti-racism. The Youth Office is developing plans for workshops that would be taken to district Cons (conferences) or local youth group meetings. Youth trained to discuss anti-racism and to lead workshops would be sent to these events. Also, an anti-racist sleepover kit is under development that will be used by local youth groups and contains lists of movies, questions about those movies, and ideas for workshops.
A workshop participant asked what the ultimate goal of the anti-racist programs would be, and was told by the leaders that racism is hard to talk about and is entrenched in society, so that there is no clear idea for a goal. The only real goal was to proceed on a "Journey Towards Wholeness."
Another questioner asked about doing things outside their groups and outside Unitarian Universalism. LaValley and Griffin responded by saying that such resources are under construction, but that also people must look carefully at themselves for the little prejudices that they have, in order to be truly anti-racist, and that the self-determination was a crucial part of the process.
Griffin and LaValley also said that they would be putting anti-racist materials at the Youth Ministries website.
On the continental level the anti-racism movement will take several different forms. There will be a review of the existing resources in order to make things such as Leadership Development Conferences and Spirituality Development Cons more anti-racist, because there is a belief that these have failed certain groups. A resolution was passed stating the desire of youth to work as anti-racists, and identity groups were created for continental events such as GA. These groups will be split by racial lines and will discuss the impact of race and racism on their lives. Then they will merge and talk in one large group. The hope is that these groups will bring a greater awareness of the problems of racism. Also, the Youth Office is going to promote consideration of anti-racism in appointing positions. Finally an affordable Youth of Color Continental Con will be sponsored by Diverse and Revolutionary Unitarian Universalist Ministries.
The workshop broke up into five groups where people were able to discuss racism and what is happening at their churches. These groups provided an opportunity to ask clarifying questions and bring points from the first part of the meeting up for discussion.
Reported by Phil Morse-Fortier.