Decentering Whiteness in Worship

What Are These Webinars About?

In these three videos, Unitarian Universalist religious professionals of color discuss how UU worship leaders can decenter whiteness, take apart models and habits that uphold white supremacy culture, and find new ways to create worship.

"Beyond Basic Representation," is a conversation about why and how UU worship leaders need to do more than include readings by authors of color in worship, and why the next stage of our collective spiritual growth calls for the (often uncomfortable) creation of new processes and relationships.

Beyond Basic Representation: Taking Our Anti-Racist Commitment into Worship

Recorded in June 2019, this conversation between Julica Hermann de la Fuente, Aisha Hauser, and Rev.

Erika Hewitt begins with the question Why can't we search WorshipWeb for authors who are people of color? and extends into an expansive discussion of applying anti-racism work to Unitarian Universalist worship.

Here are a few of the benchmarks in this 38-minute conversation:

  • 3:50 Aisha invokes "intentional relationship-building"
  • 5:00 Julica wonders what else is behind the request to identify authors who are POC
  • 7:50 Aisha lists widely-published UU religious professionals of color whose work needs to be read by white UUs
  • 13:00 Julica explains the historic model of preaching -- the "transmission of knowledge" -- as reflecting an outdated, colonialist framework
  • 20:00 Julia distinguishes an ethic of control from an ethic of risk
  • 21:30 Aisha reflects on the spiritual value of learning to sit with discomfort
  • 25:50 Aisha reveals what white people rarely say out loud
  • 30:45 Julica unpacks the cost of perfectionism in worship
  • 32:45 Erika, Aisha, and Julica comment on the emotional labor required to navigate conversations about race
  • 35:50 Aisha names the question she asks someone when she learns that she's caused harm

Additional Resources

These resources are either referenced in the 2019 webinar, or might be helpful to our continued learning:

Decentering Whiteness in Worship... Continuing the Conversation

This video conversation was recorded on September 12, 2017 by Rev. Erika Hewitt, Christina Rivera, Dr. Glen Thomas Rideout, and Julica Hermann de la Fuente.

Due to the free-flowing conversation between four computers, there are portions with minor sound distortions. Thank you for bearing with those distractions, and for addressing any questions to WorshipWeb.

Decentering Whiteness in Worship, Part 1

This webinar was recorded on June 1, 2017 by Rev. Erika Hewitt, Dr. Glen Thomas Rideout, and Julica Hermann de la Fuente. Thanks to the 100+ viewers who joined in the chat.

“White supremacy” is a provocative phrase, as it conjures up images of mobs in white hoods. However, actual “white supremacists” aren't required to uphold white supremacist culture — that is, the set of institutional assumptions and practices, often operating unconsciously, that tend to benefit white people and exclude people of color. Building a movement of people who understand that key distinction is essential as we work toward a more just society in difficult political times.

Mistakes and Miracles

By Nancy Palmer Jones, Karin Lin

From Skinner House Books

The 2022-2023 UUA Common Read Shares how five diverse congregations encounter frustrations and disappointments, as well as hope and wonder, once they commit to the journey to create multicultural, antiracist Beloved Community.

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Centering Navigating Race, Authenticity, and Power in Ministry

By Mitra Rahnema

From Skinner House Books

The 2017-18 UUA Common Read A joint project of the Committee for Antiracism, Anti-oppression, and Multiculturalism of the UUMA and Skinner House Books, Centering is the first book to center the stories, analysis, and insight of Unitarian Universalists of color offering their religious leadership.

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Darkening the Doorways Black Trailblazers and Missed Opportunities in Unitarian Universalism

By Mark D. Morrison-Reed

From Skinner House Books

Life stories and achievements of African Americans in Unitarian Universalism Being reprinted - available for backorder...

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The Fire This Time

Envisioned as a response to The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin's groundbreaking 1963 essay collection, contemporary writers reflect on the past, present, and future of race in America.

The Fire This Time

White Fragility Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism

By Robin DiAngelo

From Beacon Press

New York Times Bestseller Groundbreaking book exploring the counterproductive reactions white people have when discussing racism that serve to protect their positions and maintain racial inequality...

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Voices from the Margins An Anthology of Meditations

By Jacqui James, Mark D. Morrison-Reed

From Skinner House Books

An anthology of meditations. The inSpirit Series was previously known as the Meditation Manual Series.

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