Seeking universal justice and equity, this statement calls upon the Unitarian Universalist Association, member organizations, and Unitarian Universalists to actively engage in undoing intersectional white supremacy in all of its manifestations. Intersectional white supremacy refers to the embedded, uneven, and pervasive nature of white supremacy in our society, while acknowledging the disparate impact of racism on individuals and groups. Intersectionality was coined by Dr. Kimberle’ Crenshaw to mean “a lens, a prism, for seeing the way in which various forms of inequality often operate together and exacerbate each other.” (1) Intersectional white supremacy intersects with issues of class and income, gender, age, ethnicity, immigration status, sexual orientation, religion, ability, and more. As Unitarian Universalists, we promote the universalizing value of diversity with the unifying power of equal justice. The disproportionate harm of racism across varied groups is a direct affront to every one of our principles. (2) We further decry the ways in which intersectional white supremacy divides our human family by privileging some groups over others and thereby generating resistance to the common goal of universal equity and justice. Most egregious, we are losing lives of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color all across this nation--from police violence to the pandemic—due to the evil of intersectional white supremacy. Therefore, as Unitarian Universalists we must engage in urgent action to confront the moral crisis of our time:
- Engage with the movement, in our communities and nation, to heal the evil of racism. A vital and dynamic movement to overcome racism and dismantle systems of supremacy is rising across our nation, and as Unitarian Universalists we must contribute to this momentum. We can fortify this movement for justice by participating in and organizing social action to denounce injustices such as police brutality, theft of native lands, environmental racism, mass incarceration, cruel responses to immigration, restricted reproductive rights, transphobia, lack of health care and education, and more. Acting for justice in these important movements, we must be vigilant to the manifestations of intersectional white supremacy. We must not only observe and affirm this movement, but engage in bold action with and support of people on the front lines. Actions can include street protest; advocacy; resource sharing; local, regional, and national campaigns; letter-writing; community asset building; and more. The key is organizing with strategic accountability while building sustainable communities of resistance.
- Carry forward the recommended healing actions conveyed in “Widening the Circle of Concern”. As with other complex and embedded social problems, undoing intersectional white supremacy requires multifaceted, long-term efforts for change. This includes not only engaging in action beyond the denomination, but also internal work within the denomination to overcome the ways in which intersectional white supremacy is woven into our group cultures, interpersonal relationships, and individual ingrained biases. This call affirms the wealth of knowledge and vital guidance detailed in the UUA Commission on Institutional Change report, “Widening the Circle of Concern”. Unitarian Universalist organizations and individuals are called to implement the recommendations in this report as a means to release ourselves from the limits of intersectional white supremacy, which are embedded in our structures and habits, so as to allow Unitarian Universalists to live our shared values more fully and freely.
- Build relationships across boundaries of privilege and oppression. Intersectional white supremacy breeds the lie of division. From unequal access to housing, to poverty, healthcare barriers, and environmental degradation, we all suffer. Yet when one group seeks help for a problem such as racism, another oppressed group that is a member of the dominant race may feel that the roots of their suffering will not be addressed. We believe intersectional white supremacy is embedded in all oppressions in the U.S. Unitarian Universalists must forge relationships beyond boundaries of privilege and power as we struggle for justice for all oppressed people while continually focusing on the vital work of undoing intersectional white supremacy. There are myriad groups to partner with on anti-racism, including groups like Black Lives Matter, Black Youth Project, Diverse and Revolutionary Unitarian Universalist Multicultural Ministries (DRUUMM), the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, the Movement for Black Lives, the NDN Collective (an Indigenous-led organization), the Poor People’s Campaign, and Standing Rock nation.
As Unitarian Universalists living in a time of racialized violence, environmental crisis, and a democracy on the precipice of disaster, we must urgently engage in relationship building, internal growth and transformation, and wider justice action to undo intersectional white supremacy and promote universalist equity and justice in our world. May the resources and connections on this website serve as a catalyst for your ongoing journey in this vital work.
(1) Words of Kimberle’ Crenshaw in “She Coined the Term ‘Intersectionality’ Over 30 Years Ago. Here’s What It Means to Her Today,” by Kathy Steinmetz, Time, 2020.
(2) The harms of of racism and intersectional white supremacy defy the inherent worth and dignity of every person; deny justice, equity, and compassion; reject acceptance of one another with encouragement to spiritual growth; prevent free and responsible meaning-making; undermine democracy and rights of conscience; mock the goal of world community of peace and justice; and disrespect our interdependence. In short, they are a direct affront to every one of our principles.