The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Board of Trustees is in receipt of this communication from the Young Adult Caucus at this General Assembly.
The Board applauds this statement in two regards:
One is that we are deeply impressed by the process of covenant creation that went into this statement. We particularly note the way that the group structured the conversation between their BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) participants and the rest of the body. We recommend that Unitarian Universalist organizations adapt their methods in developing consensus.
We also applaud their demonstration of accountability to the UUA’s long-standing commitment to dismantling white supremacy culture. They are leading all of us to the understanding that accountability requires action and presence. Withdrawal from harmful and unsafe spaces is not an option for those who are witnessing white supremacy in action.
The Board applauds this statement and urges all Unitarian Universalists to read it and learn it from our Young Adult leaders.
No White Supremacy In Our House YA Statement
We, the UU Young Adults present at the 2021 General Assembly, strongly condemn the white supremacist language that is coded in discussions happening around democracy.
The values of liberation and justice are at the center of our theology as Unitarian Universalists, and a commitment to defend them is part of living out that theology and living tradition.
As Young Adults, we came together at the beginning of General Assembly to make a covenant for our time together. Instead of a traditional covenant process, we chose a process of communal conversation that centered the BIPOC members of our community - drawn from a covenant process experienced by one of our staff at the Unitarian Universalist College of Social Justice’s Grounded and Resilient Organizers Workshop (GROW) in 2016. We covenanted in two caucuses; BIPOC UUs created asks and demands, while white UUs created offerings of what they could bring forward to create liberatory and safe spaces.
We combined these two covenants, asks and offerings, together into one text that serves as our covenant. This was a holy and sacred process that creates the foundation for how our community building can happen together. We are practicing living solidarity.
An offering that was named by the white UU Young Adults was to “Speak up when others say/do things that are racist, oppressive, and harmful, to disrupt white supremacy & literally get in the way of it when it is happening in and out of our spaces.” Because this is a part of our covenant, we are called to respond to the white supremacy that is unfolding from self-proclaimed “Gadflies” and others who use the guise of democracy to oppose anti-racism work in our faith. Democracy is a value of our faith tradition upheld by our Seven Principles, but our UU theology also calls us to center the voices of BIPOC and other traditionally marginalized groups. This liberatory theology is NOT in competition with our 5th Principle, and to suggest that our democratic practices are under threat seems like nothing less than a veiled attempt to maintain and uphold white power within our organization.
An ask that was named by the BIPOC UU young adults is that “We will support each other in calling out injustice, and deplatforming those practicing when we see it. We will take the leadership of the folks being most affected. When we recognize a space as unsafe, we will center the safety of folks being most affected.” It is in the spirit of this covenant that we are called to center BIPOC UUs and remain united against white supremacy and oppression in all its forms.
We will not be platforming the specific remarks made publicly in the candidate forum or in the Whova app that reinforce white supremacy. Because this conversation is ongoing in this space and within our faith tradition, we feel called to name that the religion we belong to is one that centers liberation, transformative justice, and solidarity.
As a people engaged in a living tradition, we are also creating space for the guidance from our Six Sources, another sacred and holy piece of our faith, which gives us our Seven Principles. Our YA covenant affirms this through the BIPOC ask that we “lean [into]...our Six Sources as Unitarian Universalists to decenter whiteness in our spiritual journeys and create spaces that draw from all of our sources”. Decentering whiteness requires us to see how white supremacy hides within rhetoric that presents itself as neutral or individualistic, and to uplift practices of consensus in decision making so that we all move towards justice together.
These are the values UU young adults are living through as we continue on our spiritual journeys together. Our faith is centered so much around communal wellbeing, and leaving any room for white supremacy is simply not an option. Creating a covenant is a practice of accountability - it gives us a center to hold ourselves accountable before harm happens, and to call ourselves back into relationship when we violate it. Today, and always, we are called by covenant to name and condemn white supremacy.
Your Young Adults @ General Assembly Leadership Team
& The Larger Young Adult Community at General Assembly