International Unitarian Universalism

White Supremacy Is a Scourge on the World

By Bruce Knotts

This post was originally sent out on March 23 via a monthly email message from Director Bruce Knotts of the Unitarian Universalist Association Office at the United Nations. Subscribe to the UU@UN email list.

Person holding handwritten sign saying "RACISM is a PANDEMIC too"

White supremacy is a scourge on the world.

We are seeing white supremacist and nationalist ideologies rise to power globally, a trend that manifests in surging anti-immigrant policies.

Those who migrate in largest numbers are from former colonies or nations that have been exploited by the industrialized West, or those nations suffering from Western-generated climate change.

These people migrate because they have no choice. They come with the best of intentions, with talents, values, abilities, and with all that receiving nations need to grow and prosper.

How do we greet them? Many welcome newcomers in ways that are wonderful and hospitable. However, many will look at a person of color, or someone wearing “foreign” clothing, and tell that person to “Go back to where you come from.”

All communities benefit vastly from newcomers with new ideas. Do we not want the creativity and new ideas that newcomers bring? I hope that we do.

White supremacy is at the root of our countries’ most concerning social issues. If we want a better, kinder, more humane society, we need to embrace the beauty of diversity and to stop behavior that denigrates newcomers or those perceived as such.

Recent violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the U.S. is another indication of the danger of growing and unchecked white supremacy.

An article in USA Today points to the UN’s concerns about white supremacy around the globe:

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres warned that white supremacist hate groups pose a "transnational threat," having thrived amid the coronavirus pandemic...

The threat posed by these groups has increased due to the coronavirus pandemic, which provided damaged public trust in civic institutions across the globe and exacerbated issues that extremists use to recruit members…

Recently, white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups have found allies within the political establishments of various countries, Guterres warned, stating that many have been "cheered on by people in positions of responsibility in ways that were considered unimaginable not long ago."

"We need global coordinated action to defeat this grave and growing danger," Guterres stressed.

I am proud to serve as co-moderator of Religions for Peace USA, one of several interfaith coalitions the UU@UN is part of at the UN that work to dismantle white supremacy. In response to the attacks on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Georgia and elsewhere, Religions for Pease USA published a statement condemning this violence.

Several events the UU@UN has hosted this year have dug deep into the imperative to dismantle white supremacy in all its forms. I especially highlight our events focusing on Islamophobia and racism, the right to joy for women of African descent and for LGBTQ+ women of color, and the prevalence of white supremacy in American religious traditions.

We continue to use our status at the UN to join our powerful voice with those of UN agencies and affiliated NGOs to work to end systemic white supremacy wherever it exists in the world.

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About the Author

Bruce Knotts

Bruce Knotts is the Director of the Unitarian Universalist Office at the United Nations. He was born and raised in Southern California. He got his Bachelor’s Degree in History from Pepperdine University and his Master’s Degree in International Education from the Monterey Institute of...

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