April 8, 2017 Letter from the UUA Moderator

By Jim Key

Beloved Friends:

Once again we find ourselves on the leading edge of change. In the past ten days, the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Board and I as your Moderator have heard an outcry of anguish and, yes, of hope from hundreds of Unitarian Universalists. I want you to know that we are doing our utmost to stand prayerfully at the center of the storm of controversy and concern. We are listening carefully, reading every communication we receive, and doing our best to ground our actions in the best interest of this faith we love and treasure.

In accordance with our Ends, we are paying particular attention to the impassioned pleas of people of color and the organizations which represent them. Last night, the Board unanimously passed a plan which requires the Interim President to:

Call upon Unitarian Universalism to redeem its history by planning for and living into an anti-racist, multicultural future. This will include but is not limited to:

  1. Center the conversation with professionals of color in the interest of ensuring non-racist recruitment and employment.
  2. Create and submit for Board approval, a process by which to analyze structural racism and white supremacy within the UUA and will include an external audit of the power structure and power-mapping within Unitarian Universalism.

We are well aware that to many of you the term “white supremacy” seems harsh and even inaccurate when applied to our beloved faith. Some of you are asking, “What will the outside world think if we describe ourselves as white supremacist? Isn’t this just one more misguided example of liberal guilt at play?” In a word, no.

The term white supremacist once referred exclusively to individuals and organizations that openly espoused the superiority of white people. In recent years the term has come to refer to a culture, or a social narrative that places the needs, desires, stories, well-being, and the very lives of white people over and above those of people of color. It is the water we swim in. It is so much a part of our lives and of the life of our Association, that it has just become business as usual. We have chosen to use the term and to endorse the teach-in called for by many of our religious educators because we are absolutely committed to staying awake to the challenges before us. White supremacy is a continuum. When we refuse to acknowledge our place in that continuum we risk being lulled back into complicity. Not this time friends.

Forward together. Not one step back.

Jim Key
UUA Moderator

About the Author

Jim Key

Jim Key, a member of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Beaufort, South Carolina, served as moderator of the Unitarian Universalist Association.

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