Frequently I am asked, ‘Why should the UUA [Unitarian Universalist Association] spend money, time, and resources on racial and cultural diversity?’ I sometimes feel burdened with the expectation that I should have an answer because I am a psychologist by profession and because I happen to be an African American.
Often the person asking the question goes on to point out that not many African Americans would be interested in Unitarian Universalism [UUism], that African Americans and other minorities have a theology that is too different from UUism or that we will never get a large number of them to come. Once, someone even invited me to leave and go back to whatever church I came from if it was so bad at the UUA.
The reason I want racial and cultural diversity in the UUA extends beyond issues of numbers, theology, or money. It has to do with the fact that this is the right thing to do. The religious challenge of our time moves us to open our doors to all and to promote wholeness in the midst of diversity.
Many people seem to want racial and cultural diversity up to a point. I believe that true inclusivity removes that point.
Learning how to develop, value, and appreciate cross-cultural relationships is to everyone’s benefit. To embrace a world where there is racial and cultural diversity, Euro-Americans, Native Americans, African Americans, Hispanics, Mexican Americans, Asian Americans, people of all sexual orientations and all ages, people dealing with physical and emotional limitations, women and men must be willing to examine themselves and reach out to the community.
When everyone comes to the table for discussion, there will be differences of opinion, and yet we can ignore no one. All bring gifts to be shared. All can be honored and enriched. To build a racially and culturally diverse community is to build a world of beauty and power. It is the right thing to do. Being able to honestly and lovingly share gifts, pains, and appreciations with each other is what religion is truly about. A blessing awaits us all, and it will come when we experience the richness of racial and cultural diversity.
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