Everybody needs history but the people who need it most are poor folks—people without resources or options. — Henry Hampton, 20th-century American documentary film producer
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of the beloved community, a phrase we use in our Unitarian Universalist faith. He said, "We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality." In the beloved community, people of all races, genders, classes, sexual orientations, ethnicities, religions, philosophies and languages fully join in society's decision-making processes and enjoy its bounty.
We have not yet fully achieved this beloved community. This session challenges participants to become anti-racist allies. Even those of us in mono-racial/mono-cultural communities can and must take opportunities to expand our vision to respectfully and generously embrace of all humanity in our great diversity — for as long as racism exists, we are all diminished.
The children learn about Henry Hampton (1940-1998), a one-time public relations director of the Unitarian Universalist Association who became the first African American owner of a network affiliate television station and who founded Blackside, Inc., a major, minority-owned media production organization. For many decades, mainstream print and television news had presented minorities exclusively through the lens of a dominant, European-American culture. Hampton created and executive produced Eyes on the Prize, a public television series that indisputably dented the institutional racism endemic in our mainstream national media.
Participants then make their own study of media to ascertain what they are told/shown and consider how realistically media portray racial/ethnic variety and realities in your community and the nation. For this session, you will need to gather examples with images from local and national mainstream media along with minority-produced magazines and other media.
For the Faith in Action activity, identify your congregation's social and racial justice work in solidarity with local organizations run by Native American/Indigenous peoples, African Americans, Latin Americans, Asian Americans, Arab Americans and/or immigrants from other countries (or, find out about groups in neighboring communities and opportunities for social justice ally work.
We highly recommended you watch some of Eyes on the Prize before leading this session. If you have time and technology, choose some clips to show the group. You can purchase Eyes on the Prize in its entirety or view segments of it on the PBS website.
This session will:
- Build participants' media literacy, in particular their awareness of how local and national media portray people of color
- Introduce participants to the concept of being a social justice ally
- Help participants identify existing and future opportunities in their congregation and/or community to act as social justice allies with a view toward building the beloved community
- Promote practices that support our Unitarian Universalist Principles, especially our first, the inherent worth and dignity of every person; second, justice, equity, and compassion in human relations; and sixth, the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all.
- Examine how local and national mainstream media portray people of color and other minorities
- Discover how minority ownership of media's storytelling can change the story, by learning about documentary television producer Henry Hampton
- Learn the concept of being a social justice ally
- Practice acting as allies to one another in a modified version of the game Mother, May I?
- Optional: Plan and implement a congregational audit of social justice activities in the local community.