Dismantling White Supremacy Culture Resource of the Month - July 2023

By Lisa Presley

When summer rolls around every year, I take it as a time to refine and brush up on some of the tools of my trade—learning new things for fall classes that I might teach, and also reminding myself of the important concepts of living into being an anti-racist, anti-oppression person. Here’s some of what I do—feel free to let me know what you do, and what else I could benefit from!

First, I look to reminding myself about the difference between intention and impact. I know that it doesn’t matter as much what my intention is (other than for my ego) but what is crucial to pay attention to is the impact of what I do. What did I do that harmed others, without my wanting to? What might I need to pay attention to more closely—the phrases that come almost second nature to me, that I now realize harm other people?

I do intentional work to sort out how to keep myself from internally competing—always wanting to be right—and instead lean more into relationship—the connections with the people I love. What does it really matter who won the bronze medal in shotput to the connection I have with my friends, or what month something happened in? Not much at all. But that inner competitiveness and desire to be right is strong in me, and I take the summer to learn new ways to remind myself to be in relationship.

Getting Called Out: How to Apologize Video by chescaleigh (Franchesca Ramsey)

And then, I re-watch a video I’ve seen probably twenty times or more now, and that’s Chescaleigh’s Getting Called Out: How to Apologize (YouTube). Why do I do this? Because my reflection on my impact instead of intention, and my desire to be in relationship rather than be right brings to mind times when I wasn’t who I wanted to be. And so I try to take the time to repair the relationships. To do that, I often have to apologize. I haven’t found many other tools than Chescaleigh’s video to ensure that I do that the best I can. Owning what I’ve done, not being defensive, not hiding in my intentions, or my desire to be right, but instead centering the other, and centering the relationship I wish to have. The apology isn’t always enough, which is why I study impact and my competitiveness, because the apology without a follow through and change of behavior isn’t enough.

That’s my summer homework. What’s yours? What’s yours for me? Feel free to reach out to me, Lisa Presley, at lpresley@uua.org. I’d love to have a conversation.

About the Author

Lisa Presley

Lisa Presley is a life-long Unitarian Universalist who was an active lay leader before entering our ministry in 1991. As a lay leader she was board president, board member, worship associate, stewardship campaign chair, religious education teacher, bookkeeper, secretary, and shoveled the snow as...

For more information contact .