Friday, June 19th, 2020
A Juneteenth Message of Unequivocal Support for Black Lives & Liberation
Dearest Members and Friends of the UU Congregation, Santa Rosa,
Can you hear the heart-break and hope alive in our country?
It is ringing loud and clear to us, too.
As the news continues to break regarding the senseless death of our Black siblings due to police and state-sanctioned violence, and as a righteous call for Black liberation and respect for Black humanity rises powerfully in this country, we issue a moral call alongside so many that it is long past time to heal the wounds of over 500 years of racial oppression.
Our Unitarian Universalist principles and values anchor us in the inherent worth and dignity of all people and the interconnected web of life. As people of faith, we join all people of good will in demanding change that honors Black human life, dignity and basic human rights.
Now is no time to remain silent. Rather, this is a time we want to unequivocally and vigorously proclaim support for the Black Lives Matter Movement. As people of faith we must challenge the kind of racism that is entrenched in our country, in human hearts, and which daily causes terror and harm in our communities, right here in Sonoma County. As Unitarian Universalists, our values call us to champion one another's dignity and to live into the spiritual understanding that we are all connected in this mysterious web of existence.
With so many in the country, we mourn the utterly unnecessary deaths of George Floyd, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Philando Castile, Breonna Taylor, Sandra Bland, Natasha McKenna, Michelle Cusseaux, Dominique "Rem'mie" Fells, Riah Milton, and so many, more people who have died due to the epidemic racism and police violence in our midst. Right here in Santa Rosa, we shared in the community’s anger and sadness at the death of Andy Lopez who was 13 when he was killed by a deputy of the sheriff .
Our hearts are with individuals and families who have endured constant experiences of prejudicial treatment in this country, and who live in continual states of hypervigilence due to threats of being attacked, harmed and killed due to racial profiling and deeply entrenched systemic racism. Human hearts and whole families have been torn apart over and over again due to discrimination, racial profiling, the inequitable division of resources and opportunities in the US and in short, the layered, morally represenible legacies of slavery.
The social contract in the US is deeply broken. For too long, Black, Brown, Indigenous and People of Color have faced violence, discrimination and injustice in this country, while those with white skin privledge have benefited from generations of accumulated social capital. A toxic culture of white dominance has meant that too often the experiences, pain, anger and every day lived reality of Black, Brown, Indigenous, and People of Color has been ignored or erased.
As two ministers with white skin privilege, we acknowledge that the suffering is most acute for those whose lives and families have been directly and consistently impacted and harmed by the racism in our land. We also know that ALL of us are impacted by the ill effects of racism. We are in this together, for when our siblings dignity is denied and degraded, all of us are morally degraded as well. We are interconnected and we are all implicated.
While talking about race, especially for white folks can be uncomfortable, we are heartened by SO many who right now want to dive deeper, increase self-understanding and be part of the remedy this country desperately needs. We are glad there are so many white folks in our beloved congregation interested in unpacking racism, learning more and acting for racial justice. We know the journey towards racial justice is messy and complex, and utterly necessary. Our congregation is vital, caring, creative and committed to our mission: celebrating life, empowering people, caring for one another and helping to build a better world. Thank you to those who have already been sharing resources. Thank you to those who have been asking questions and exchanging ideas about ways white folks in particular can learn more and become better partners in community and in the struggle for Black liberation and basic human dignity.
We know so many of you are yearning to take remedying action, to learn more, and to be of use and support in these times. Together, we hope you will join us in taking real steps to deepen and encourage each other to be part of the positive movement for racial justice in this country.
Most vitally, we must strengthen our spiritual practice, and merge that practice with action for change. We recall that most of the great social movements were infused with the sustaining power of spirituality. Let us all avail ourselves of the kinds of spiritual practices in community which can help us to keep going together, to become ever more brave together, where we can keep growing and learning as part of the necessary movement for Black liberation in these times.
Then, we want to urge you to join us and our UUCSR community in taking at least two of the next steps below.
(An audio version is currently free on Spotify!)
Today is Juneteenth. President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. Yet, word of this didn't reach people enslaved in Confederate areas until over 2 years later. On June 19th, 1865 a union soldier came to Galveston TX and read the order, which said, in part: "this involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves..." Juneteenth (June 19th) is a day of celebration and memory, commemorating the lived emancipation of slaves in the US. It is a day of jubilee! Yet in 2020, this day is also an incredibly stark reminder of the racial justice and equity not yet realized in the US.
We are in a time of great social upheaval.
It can also be a time of great, positive, social shift.
We earnestly believe that this shift must be towards the realization of racial justice, and that all of us can be part of the positive change this country needs. The direction of this country is up to us --- all of us. We are in this together, always.
The call is urgent. Let’s respond with courage, commitment and energy. And may the Spirit of Life and Love bless our work.
In faith and solidarity,
Rev. Chris Bell & Rev. Dara Olandt
P. S. The Diversity Project of UUCSR begins its meetings with the following reading. May it guide all our work together!
INVITATION TO BRAVE SPACE
By Micky Scott Bey Jones
Together we will create brave space,
Because there is no such thing as a “safe space”
We exist in the real world
We all carry scars and we have all caused wounds.
In this space,
We seek to turn down the volume of the outside world,
We amplify voices that fight to be heard elsewhere,
We call each other to more truth and love
We have the right to start somewhere and continue to grow.
We have the responsibility to examine what we think we know.
We will not be perfect.
It will not always be what we wish it to be
It will be our brave space together,
We will work on it, side by side.