Multicultural Support Team Moves Toward Justice
In honor of the Standing on the Side of Love 30 Days of Love 2016 campaign, Steven Ballesteros speaks up about the important work of supporting Youth of Color.
As a Unitarian Universalist young adult of color I have at times lacked a sense of belonging and of being in right relationship in this faith. I know I am not alone in this feeling. Luckily, there are places in which I can feel safe and ways in which I can apply myself.
I currently live near Seattle, Washington, which places me in the Pacific North West District of the Unitarian Universalist Association. There I have helped create and serve on the PNWD Multicultural Support Team for Youth of Color. This team is charged to support youth of color with youth ministry resources and caucusing opportunities when youth in the PNWD meet.
This team realizes that part of being a UU Standing On The Side Of Love is to gather courageously towards organized action for intersectional racial justice. We must become allies and advocates in the movement of racial justice that is sweeping our streets and the intricacies of our minds and hearts. We know that this work must be included in youth ministry. These young people are already leading the way! So, we are transforming our culture with this in mind.
To this end we are conducting webinars dedicated to intercultural awareness and competency that all con staff (youth and adult) are required to participate in. We have held restorative justice circles for those who have been hurt in recent months, begun integrating religious professionals further into the communication and community of youth ministry, and started right relationship training for Spirit Corps (youth leaders who help facilitate covenant at cons). Further, we have adjusted policies and expectations to provide for more rest, better attendance of youth programming, and a deeper respect of covenant during youth events. We are in the process of creating a more diverse and skilled leadership, as well. In the coming months we hope to introduce new workshops, identity caucusing, and useful language to the PNWD youth community.
I share this information with you as testament to the difficult work that is changing a system and culture towards a more positive and inclusive reality. Even a system full of bright minded and kind hearted Unitarian Universalists. This work takes determination and patience. I have come to realize that when we call one another into love and truth to power we may find ourselves afraid and uncomfortable. Yet the fruit of such labor can be one of hope for in its consumption we are awakened.
This is a small part of a much larger movement and highly specified to our own community. Each puzzle piece to the mosaic of beloved community requires care and attention. So I invite you to ask yourself, which piece is yours?