Identity Formation for Young White Unitarian Universalists
Unitarian Universalists are committed to building the beloved community, which includes valuing our cultural, racial and ethnic diversity and working together towards collective liberation. Those of us who are white, or perceived to be white, need resources and tools to develop a healthy white anti-racist identity so we can continue to follow the call of our faith.
What is Whiteness?
Whiteness is a racial category that was invented by Europeans in the 1700s to justify violence against people from other continents. The construction of whiteness, including which groups of people are classified as white, has evolved over time based on immigration policy, the pseudo social science of eugenics, religious discrimination and the interests of the wealthy and ruling class. Even though the United States is a multicultural and multiracial country, whiteness is often considered the “normal” way to look and behave and the “standard” cultural experience. It’s important to remember that even though whiteness and race are constructs, white supremacy and racism have very real impacts.
What is White Privilege?
While all white people benefit from white supremacy, we also have multiple identities that intersect. Some white people are immigrants or have immigrants in their family, some are LGBTQ+, some have disabilities and some are poor or working class. Even though we hold multiple identities, our whiteness lends us undeserved advantages and privileges. Grappling with white privilege can be difficult. Some people feel guilty about the power and privilege that comes along with being white. Lots of folks feel uncomfortable talking about race. Others are ready to unlearn implicit biases, and leverage their privilege to work for racial equity and collective liberation. Wherever you are on this journey right now is okay.
Staying on the Journey
Whether you’re experiencing discomfort with anti-racist activists, struggling with receiving a criticism or call out, or feeling anxious about racism, there are UU spiritual practices you can use to stay grounded in your values and engaged in this work as a white person. Investigate the Theology of Liberation to Inspire White Anti-Racist Organizing that helps us as white people prepare to show up, again and again.
White young adults can attend the "Shift" cohort of GROW Racial Justice, a week long immersion experience, created by the UUA Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries, the UU College of Social Justice, Standing on the Side of Love and the Center for Ethical Living and Social Justice Renewal.
Youth and young adults can join Allies for Racial Equity and consider attending their fall conference.
Consider exploring your own white identity development through Rev. Dr. Monica Cumming’s Introduction to White Ethnic Identity Formation for Youth or Bill Gardiners’s workshop on Racial Identity Development. Use the Be the Change! curriculum to explore the construction of race and impacts of racism with your congregation.
Small group workshops and racial identity caucusing can be transformative and important opportunities for collective learning. Caucusing provides an opportunity to share, learn, ask questions and be pushed to grow about the specific ways that internalized white supremacy impact those of us who are white.