1. 3/23/17 The announcement of a new hire in the Southern Region led to conversation at Finding Our Way Home, a conference of people of color who are religious professionals in UUism. People made note of current patterns in hiring and past records of hiring for leadership level positions and questioned repeated decisions to hire white people over people of color in final rounds of the process. 3
2. 3/27/17 Peter Morales put out a statement regarding the controversy, hoping to settle things down and create a more calm response. Instead, his words inflamed the issue and highlighted ways that people who have noticed racism and sexism in the movement have felt historic dismissal. This letter also created hurt in the LREDA (religious educators) community regarding power differentials and perception of professionalism between religious educators and ministers. 4
3. 3/29/17 People of color, including the BLUU (Black Lives of UU) and DRUUMM (Diverse and Revolutionary UU Multicultural Ministries) organizations, responded in an organized fashion with a hashtagged call for responses and reflections on Facebook, Twitter and in blogging. White UUs, especially members of ARE (Allies for Racial Equity) also responded as part of this solidarity action. 5
4. 3/30/17 Peter Morales made the decision to resign, citing remarks in his open letter to staff and further inflammation of the situation through his language in a UU World interview as reasons for his decision. 6
6. 4/5/17 Two more leadership level staff members of the UUA announced their resignations, Harlan Limpert (Chief Operating Officer), effective April 20th, and Scott Tayler (Director of Congregational Life), effective June 30th. 8
7. 4/10/17 The UUA Board of Trustees appointed co-presidents Rev. Sofia Betancourt, Rev. Bill Sinkford, and Dr. Leon Spencer to take the lead at the UUA. This simultaneously marks our first woman as president, our first non-minister as president, and our first “out” (publicly self-identified) queer person as president. 9
8. 4/16/17 A letter from the UUMA’s Executive Director to the UUA Board expressing disagreement with the Board’s recent decisions on BLUU funding and leadership decisions went public and then went viral, with many responding in blogs and Facebook posts. 10
9. 4/21/17 The UUA Board met for their Spring meeting, taking up multiple issues related to racism, white supremacy, marginalizing assumptions, and oppression in our denomination. This was their first meeting in person since the hiring issue became a public conversation. 11
This is a publicly viewable compilation of statements and responses from a variety of UU sources regarding the Regional Lead demographics and current discussion of UUA hiring practices. It is not exhaustive, and you are more than welcome to comment with additional suggestions of links or helpful reading related to this particular situation. Although general reading on racism and White Supremacist culture may be extremely helpful to some people’s understanding of the situation, I would prefer that those kinds of links be directed to a more general setting, such as the Allies for Racial Equity (ARE) discussion group on Facebook or the ARE website so that this document can remain focused on the UUA hiring conversation specifically.
Because more than a few people seem to be finding it surprising that we have come to this point, I would like to suggest a few historical resources for learning about the history which UUism has with racial justice work since the consolidation (merger).
Wilderness Journey (film)
Darkening the Doorways by Mark Morrison-Reed
The Arc of the Universe is Long by Leslie Takahashi, Chip Roush, and Leon Spencer
3/23/17 Announcement from the Southern Region regarding new hire:
3/23/17 A letter drafted by a group of ministers, later signed on by 120 religious professionals.
3/24/17 This was the note from Aisha Hauser: https://www.facebook.com/notes/aisha-hauser/letter-to-uua-board-of-trustees/10156108876623782
3/24/17 A reflection from Lynn Ungar on the Patheos site: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/uucollective/2017/03/smells-like-white-racism/?utm_campaign=shareaholic&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=socialnetwork
3/25/17 From Joseph Santos-Lyons, former UUA Staff:
UUA Presidential Candidates (alphabetically):
3/25/17 Susan Frederick-Gray: https://www.facebook.com/susan.frederickgray/posts/10209528436910366?pnref=story
3/24/17 Allison Miller: http://www.alisonforuuapresident.org/change-begins-us/
3/24/17 Jean Pupke: https://www.facebook.com/jeanne.pupke/videos/10155230761508631/
3/26/17 Rev. Jake Morrill was a major respondent, with technical suggestions about the process and ways to make this more effectively integrated with the Ends of the UUA: https://www.facebook.com/revjakebmorrill/posts/10212489736947843
3/27/17 Here’s the link from Christina Rivera (the person who was not hired... not the initial person who posted about this issue):
3/27/17 BLUU statement:
3/27/17 Peter Morales letter:
3/27/17 Follow-up from Aisha Hauser regarding Rev. Peter Morales’ publically available letter which went to UUA Staff regarding the issue: https://www.facebook.com/notes/aisha-hauser/on-self-righteous-hysteria/10156119342303782
3/27/17 A second letter from religious professionals responding to Rev. Morales’ letter: https://docs.google.com/document/d/13XPhKBPsGYaIkCRhaDZHTwJMdYaOkQciAl5G9GNUY8M/edit#heading=h.y0oecbbyj3hb
3/27/17 Rev. Sean Dennison's observations: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5XxfpPKfHEkaU5jdm1uQi04Nkk/view
3/28/17 Tim Atkins speaking to assumptions about experience and professional fit:
3/28/17 A reflection from the UUA’s Office of Youth and Young Adults:
3/28/17 An open letter from Kimberly R. Hampton, M.Div to Rev. Peter Morales: https://eastofmidnight.wordpress.com/2017/03/28/not-everything-that-is-faced-can-be-changed-but-nothing-can-be-changed-until-it-is-faced-a-short-open-letter-to-rev-peter-morales/
3/29/17 An open letter from Aisha Hauser regarding the UUA defending their hiring practices:
And a letter from The Rev. Melanie Morel-Ensminger: https://www.facebook.com/notes/kimberly-rochelle-hampton/a-letter-made-public-with-permission/10154261248651244
From Carolina Krawarik-Graham (on the Steering Committee of Allies for Racial Equity): https://www.facebook.com/notes/carolina-krawarik-graham/history-repeating-itself-hysteria/10209215828699633/?comment_id=10209220421174442&ref=notif¬if_t=like¬if_id=1490742720967924
Blog Response by Kari Kopnik (LREDA* Administrator) https://karikopnick.com/2017/03/29/now-the-time-is-now/
3/28/17 Letter of Response from LREDA* President & President-Elect:
3/29/17: Searching the hashtags #BuildingNewWay #25percentIncreaseBy2019 #UUA on Facebook will find you a plethora of responses... many religious professionals across the denomination have posted. Look at the hashtag feed on Facebook, and link back here if there are ones that seem to be generating lively discussion or official responses.
Here’s the call to action from Chris Crass: https://medium.com/@chriscrass/following-prophetic-leadership-for-racial-justice-cd57de49b1c6
A few selected examples from the hashtags:
Jason Shelton, of the UU Musicians’ Network https://www.facebook.com/notes/rev-jason-shelton-uu-musician/decolonizing-the-music-library/1403824736347900
Alex Kapitan, former UUA staff (Congregational Advocacy & Witness Program Coordinator (2012-2016), LGBTQ & Multicultural Programs Administrator (2010-2012), Editorial Assistant, Beacon Press (2007-2010)), currently TRUUsT Steering Committee
Rev. Michael Tino, former UUA staff in the YA/CM office
Beth Leyba, on staff at Jefferson Unitarian in Golden, CO
3/29/17 An open letter to the UUA Board from 7 denominational leaders who are ministers of color.
Updated version signed onto by 40 additional religious professionals of color: https://www.facebook.com/manish.mishramarzetti/posts/10158423900525162
3/29/17 Reflection on hiring practices at Oak Ridge UU, by Jake Morrill:
3/29/17 Reflection by Gini Courter, prior Moderator & Chief Governance Officer:
3/29/17 James Snell:
3/30/17 From Elandria Williams, former Groundworks trainer, DRUUMM YaYA, and current UUA Board member:
3/30/17 Rev. Krista Taves on hiring a DRE of color:
3/30/17 A Letter from Rev. Peter Morales to the UUA Board tendering his resignation:
3/30/17 Statement from the Leadership Council on Peter Morales’ resignation:
3/30/17 UU World Article:
3/30/17 Statement from Moderator Jim Key:
3/30/17 DRUUMM statement on Hiring and Racism:
3/30/17 UU Musicians Network Statement (Pres. Pro Tem Shawn McCann and Moderator Deborah Weiner):
3/31/17 Growing UU blog from the Outreach Office at the UUA (part of the Program and Strategy staff group):
3/31/17 Reflection by Michelle Walsh on issues of intersectionality:
3/31/17 Kayla Parker’s letter to her congregation summarizing the situation (valuable for other ministers or lay leaders looking for ways to share info with their own congregants):
4/1/17 Statement from the Journey Toward Wholeness Transformation Committee:
4/1/17 An update summary from UU World:
4/2/17 BLUU Statement:
4/3/17 UU Allies for Racial Equity letter:
4/3/17 Washington Post article about Morales’ resignation:
4/3/17 Further note about the history of AR/AO/MC and working with the UUA from Joseph Santos-Lyons:
4/3/17 Sherry Weston’s Open Letter about the UUA’s history with racism in the 1990s-2000s:
4/3/17 A Letter from Latinx UU religious professionals: https://www.facebook.com/uua.board.of.trustees/posts/1476600442381887
4/3/17 UUA Board packet:
4/3/17 UU World report on the UUA Board meeting:
4/4/17 The UUA Board’s Interim Presidency Transition Plan: http://www.uua.org/sites/live-new.uua.org/files/interim_pres_plan_04042017.pdf
4/5/17 UU World article noting upcoming staff departures.
4/5/17 Harlan Limpert’s letter of resignation:
4/5/17 Scott Tayler’s letter of resignation:
4/6/17 Jim Key’s letter regarding Harlan Limpert’s resignation:
4/6/17 Rev. Chris Rothbauer’s theological ponderings on white supremacy and racism:
4/6/17 A letter from the UUA Leadership Council regarding resignations of Harlan Limpert and Scott Tayler:
4/6/17 Sarah Lammert is named the acting COO: http://www.uuworld.org/articles/acting-chief-operating-officer-named
4/7/17 An open letter from religious educators (189 signatures):
4/8/17 Letter from moderator Jim Key:
4/9/17 Letter from Scott Tayler stating that Andy Burnette will decline the Regional Lead position:
4/10/17 The UUA Board Appoints a 3 person co-presidency of Bill Sinkford, Sofia Betancourt, and Leon Spencer:
And a second announcement:
4/10/17 Statement by the UU Women’s Federation:
4/11/17 UU World article:
4/11/17 Tom Schade on White Supremacy in UUism:
4/12/17 A dissenting opinion from a white UU, representative of some of the conversations that have been happening:
4/13/17 Some of the responses to these kinds of anxiety from white UUs:
4/14/17 Lena Gardner’s reflection on being marginalized in UUism:
4/14/17 UU World blog round-up includes a section on this issue:
4/16/17 Don Southworth, Executive Director of the UUMA writes to the UUA Board:
4/18/17 Lena Gardner of BLUU speaks of UUism’s current anxiety:
4/18/17 #FaithOverFear hashtag begins to appear, marking letters to the UUA Board, a sampling is included here:
Carolina Krawarik-Graham, ARE Steering Committee member: https://www.facebook.com/sarchicky/posts/10209404419134276
Caitlin Breedlove, former SSL Campaign Director: https://www.facebook.com/caitlin.breedlove.50/posts/10155205591752288
Rev. Eric David Carlson, former UUA Board member:
4/18/17 The UUA Board compiles and publishes the letters they have received from UUs since March 22nd in the Board Packet for their next meeting:
4/19/17 Lovers of Leaving, a statement from the Southern Regional Staff about commitment to their work:
4/21/17 UU World Blog Round-up:
4/21/17 UUA Board meeting is available via livestream here:
4/21/17 Open letter to the Board from many working for racial justice in UUism:
4/21/17 Letter from Allies for Racial Equity reminding us of the need to put our resources behind our words:
4/21/17 UU Ministers’ Association (UUMA) response to Don Southworth’s letter:
4/21/17 UU World posting about the new presidency:
4/22/17 Reflection from Megan Ruth Dowdell (formerly a UUA BoT Youth member, and Commission on Appraisal member):
4/27/17 Update from the co-presidents of the UUA:
4/30/17 Response to Don Southworth’s letter from DRUUMM:
4/30/17 Response to Don Southworth’s letter from ARE:
5/1/17 Official letter from the UUMA chapters of the Mid-America region:
5/4/17 Update from the co-presidents of the UUA:
5/7/17 Peter Morales posts on Facebook about his perspective on hiring issues:
5/7/17 A response from Kim Hampton about Morale’s writing:
5/8/17 Christina Rivera responds to Morales’ post:
5/9/17 Update from the co-presidents of the UUA:
5/12/17 UU World summary from the April UUA Board meeting:
Ongoing at this point...
4/30/17 and 5/7/17 (or another date that works for your congregation) Ask your ministry team to join the #UUWhiteSupremacyTeachIn along with 685 other UU congregations and communities (as of 4/25/17)!
Rev. Theresa Inés Soto has got you covered on getting started:
And BLUU has a bunch on offer, here:
5/25/17 Attend the UUA Board meeting online:
Videoconference Meeting: May 2017
Thursday, May 25, 2017; 8:00 PM Eastern
Meeting URL: https://zoom.us/j/869197433
Meeting ID: 869 197 433
Phone: (408) 638-0968 or (646) 558-8656
6/20-21/17 Attend the pre-GA “Undoing Racism” training:
A Pastoral support team “BLUUMin” has been created.
If you are a Black UU looking for emotional and spiritual support, this is a great resource: http://www.blacklivesuu.com/bluumin
Further worship spaces and pastoral support for people of color:
(thanks to the Blue Boat blog for compiling these)
Support DRUUMM and their denominational anti-racism, anti-oppression, and multicultural (AR/AO/MC) work in the following ways:
Get a book from the UUs of Color Story Project:
“Unitarian Universalists of Color: Stories of Struggles, Courage, Love and Faith” features stories of 15 Unitarian Universalists of color, a panel discussion from the 2015 GA and resources. The book is self-published, and there will be a GA workshop. This is a very good opportunity to hear about lives of UUs of color in our pews as well as outside the congregational walls.
Our project website: https://uuofcolorstoryproject.com/
Have a conversation about support for the 8th Principle Project:
Get acquainted with strategies for overcoming your own white fragility: https://www.facebook.com/annie.gonzalez.7547/posts/955406670405
Attend and observe regularly scheduled UUA Board meetings, or watch via Livestream:
To find out the dates: http://www.uua.org/uuagovernance/board/meeting-dates
To get on the livestream: http://www.uua.org/uuagovernance/board/stream
To get the printed materials, go here. This link also includes packets from past meetings:
Join the conversation by contacting someone at the UUA: http://www.uua.org/uuagovernance/board/trustees-liaisons
Tim Atkins has good thoughts about how to decide who to email (excerpted with permission from Ruth Hinkle’s FB post):
Tim Atkins: So, Elizabeth posted a link to the UUA Board, not UUA Staff. When we talked about the greater UUA, like, for example, "we need to call on the UUA to do x", it's helpful to have what UUA you have in mind to take action.
-Do you mean the UUA Staff
-Do you mean the UUA Board
-Do you mean General Assembly
-Do you mean part of the UUA governance committee system
-Or do you mean congregations that make up the UUA.
Often, a lot of people say "The UUA" and mean different combinations of those possibilities above. Who you would want to email/contact is often different based on which of those possibilities you're wanting to take action.
For example, I get the feeling that here, Ruth wants staff to do something. If that's the case - the Board has oversight, in which case emailing email@example.com is appropriate - but the Board holds staff accountable. It would also likely make sense to email staff, and for that, there's no one email to go to all staff... [update: Sarah Lammert] as COO... does a lot in terms of managing staff.
And, I can't speak to if staff is following the hashtags, but I'm on the Board and I am. However, as I stressed last week, it's important to not just post on facebook and assume people will see it, and things on facebook aren't always permanent... There are so many great stories being shared on these hashtags, I worry that we'll lose them.
Run for a UUA position:
“... another action people can take? If you're angry about the UUA, help change it. Apply to be on a denominational committee - Appointments and Nominating Committees are always looking for folks for denominational committees: http://www.uua.org/uuagovernance/volunteer
If you want to help change the UUA from a governance perspective, consider applying for a committee, noting that the volunteer structures are how we hold the UUA accountable, which is not the same as doing the work of the UUA.“ -Tim Atkins
Added note: The idea of volunteering may be really infuriating to PoC who have been turned down for paid positions while feeling exploited and tokenized for their volunteer labor in the past. This is not an ask that PoC take on more volunteer labor to minimize their own exploitation and oppression. This is especially important for people (especially white people) who recognize the UUA’s biases, want to change the situation around who we hire for paid UUA work, and are committed to being accountable to PoC on an ongoing basis.
On Mar 27, 2017, at 12:53 PM, Peter Morales <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
I am sure that the vast majority of you are aware of the recent discussions on social media regarding the hiring of a regional lead position in particular and the UUA’s personnel practices in general. I want to give you an update on where we are and what we intend to do to respond to concerns that are being raised. I also want to place this issue in the context of our recent history and in the context of our entire Association.
I have asked UUA moderator Jim Key for time to discuss this topic at the April meeting of the UUA Board of Trustees. That meeting is April 21-22. I will submit a report on this issue as part of my president’s report. I cannot, for reasons of confidentiality, speak to the particulars of the hiring decision. The larger issues, as many have pointed out, are the practices and the culture of the UUA.
There are two fundamental truths I want to convey. First, we are not where we ought to be in terms of the diversity of staff, particularly at the leadership level. I don’t know of anyone at the UUA who disagrees with that. Second, and this seems to have been lost in the focus on the immediate situation, we have made significant progress. We need to hold both our shortcomings and our successes if we are to move forward together.
Let me share some important facts about the diversity of our staff.
I will begin with the Congregational Life staff group. When the full incorporation of field staff into the UUA began in earnest seven years ago, there were no people of color among the program staff. In the past, district boards made the final hiring decisions, not UUA staff. Since the UUA has made the hiring decisions there have been 14 hires in Congregational Life. Of those 14, six have been people of color.
At the UUA staff overall, we have gone from 14 percent people of color in 2008 to 20 percent today. At the level of managers, we have gone from 12 people of color (5 percent) to 19 (9 percent).
We have made progress. It is also true that our progress has been slower than I would like.
The larger context
I am afraid that the current controversy is distracting us from a larger long term issue. That issue is that the membership of our congregations continues to be overwhelmingly white and of European origin. In the UU World readership survey done a couple of years ago, 98 percent of the respondents identified as white. The staff of the UUA is far, far more diverse than the membership of our congregations. A central challenge of our movement continues to be to learn to cross the borders of race, class and culture.
That said, we have seen a steady rise of POC among our youth and our religious professionals. I see a new generation of leaders emerging.
Clearly, we need to do a better job of bringing diversity to our staff. We need to review our practices and look at new ways of recruiting, selecting, mentoring and promoting people so that our staff is the embodiment of our aspirations. My upcoming report to the UUA Board of Trustees will explore this in more depth. That report is public and I will see that it is shared with staff.
I realize that this controversy has been (and continues to be) emotionally draining for a number of us. There is a disturbing tendency to treat UUA staff as somehow the “other” and to criticize with incomplete information. I am deeply saddened by what I see happening. I see people dedicated to racial justice and creating a multi-cultural future feeling as though they are being personally attacked. None of us is above criticism. Each of us should be accountable. However, I wish I were seeing more humility and less self righteousness, more thoughtfulness and less hysteria.
We are all committed to creating an open, diverse, excellent and effective Association. Working for justice is at the center of what we do. We are in this together. The stakes today are very high. Our core values are under attack. Let’s not attack one another.
Thank you, each of you, for all the good you do.
My prayer is that we use this controversy as an opportunity to move forward together.
Peter Morales | President
Phone (617) 948-4303 | email@example.com