We want to apologize.
In February, we received an important challenge from four Black and Latinx UU Women (Lena Gardner, Aisha Hauser, Leslie Mac, and Christina Rivera). They challenged our use of the theme “Intersectionalities” for this Regional Assembly. We had used the theme of intersectionalities without centering the work of Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw who originated the term, and without having a Black Woman specifically address the topic. That is where the concept of intersectionality began. Any adequate engagement of it needed to start with Professor Crenshaw’s work. And this is not a simple mistake or oversight—the issue to which Professor Crenshaw speaks is the erasure of Black Women. Failing to center this work continues destructive patterns. They observed using the concept of intersectionality without centering Professor Crenshaw’s theory, and without having a Black woman speak directly about Dr. Crenshaw’s work, continued the hurt of the history of Black women being made invisible and how even today these patterns persist in our work.
We agree. To legitimately claim this as a theme we would have had to ground the discussion in where the term came from and where the power of the idea remains. Not to do so continued a destructive history of erasure. We are sorry.
Further, in our team’s processing of this we realized with sadness that we had received feedback early in the plan which, if we had listened and given that feedback its proper weight, could have allowed us to avoid this mistake. Better listening—and better attention to who we need to hear—need to be part of our planning going forward.
We have a lot of work we need to do. We do not yet know what that will be in full, but here are the steps we’ve taken relative to this meeting:
- Removed the theme, and provided our apology
- Added programmatic areas such as showing Professor Crenshaw’s TED talk, and providing a time for people to meet with the MidAmerica program staff to talk about our error
- Consulted with our partners in this conference and others to advise them of the situation, and about how to begin to correct
After we are able to hear from people at our Regional Assembly, we will also need to do more to address the harm we created by the mistake of the theme.
In the future, we will consult more widely when we are choosing themes and program features and will consider who and what needs to be centered to deal with a topic adequately.
We are committed to learning more, and since February we have conferred with others who are willing to be thought partners with us going forward. We will probably make mistakes again, and we are committed to reducing them as much as possible and learning from the ones we make.
We thank Lena Gardner, Aisha Hauser, Leslie Mac, and Christina Rivera for the courage and the considerable uncompensated work they expended in bringing to our attention our own contribution to the patterns of erasure of Black women. This erasure and the uncompensated labor are patterns destructive of our shared UU faith.
We are sorry.
Ian Evison, Regional Lead
Congregational Life Consultants, MidAmerica Region