Stay With Us

An African-American person bows their head, bare shoulders visible, holding both hands open with palms up.

My stomach turned when I first heard the term "white supremacy" used to describe the culture of Unitarian Universalism and our institutions. But I've reconsidered that response.

I understand the pushback: we’ve been trained to see white supremacy as an overt expression of racism, replete with burning crosses, white hoods, Confederate flags, lynchings, and angry white people shouting racist epithet. This allows liberal whites to distance themselves from racism and believe that we aren't part of it.

But white supremacy is way bigger than the way we've been trained to understand it. White supremacy is a way of thinking that devalues the experiences, insights and lived reality of people of color. The consequences of this thinking have the real-life impact of denying people of color a real voice with real power. Rarely is this culture explicit or even conscious in liberal white communities; it’s implicit and unconscious.

It’s brave to call white supremacy what it is. In fact, it sets us apart from most liberal institutions, which are in complete denial about the power of racism to shape their decisions and their processes. There is not one institution in this country that is not shaped by white supremacy, and that includes institutions run by people of color. We have all been indoctrinated into white supremacy thinking.

There’s no reason to feel shame or fear. It is not your fault. You are not stained. We are not irredeemable. Our Universalist heritage says that no one is left behind. Let's anchor in that promise. If you want to journey into wholeness, if you want to live into the transformative pain and possibility of this one incredible life you are living, if you want to experience a community that doesn't shy away from calling truth to power, then resist your urge to run away or to distance yourself from the work. Stay with us. Bend into the task at hand. Dare to be vulnerable.

About the Author

Krista Taves

The Rev. Krista Taves, a native Canadian, is a Consulting Minister serving in Quincy IL and the UU Fellowship of La Crosse, WI.

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