When You’re The Only Black Person In A UU Church And The Topic Of The Day Is #BlackLivesMatter

So…I’m in one of the cities that I frequently come to. And when I’m in town, I go to one particular UU church. Yesterday was no different.

I had no idea what the sermon was going to be about when I walked in the door. This has its good and bad points.

The first thing I noticed when I looked at the Order of Service was that all the music is by black musicians/composers. And I know all but one. Bright spot!

Then I see that the reading for the day is by Ta-Nehisi Coates. As a member of the Horde, TNC always works for me.

Then comes that awkward moment when, looking around the sanctuary as the service starts, you notice that you are the only black person in the room (and one of four people of color in the room). And the subject for the sermon is going to be about #BlackLivesMatter. Well…………..

The sermon was ok. Not great, not bad. Ok. But I’ve come to realize, in the past year-and-a-half, that there aren’t that many UU ministers I could really trust with a sermon about race. I can count them on both my hands and have a few fingers leftover.

Anyway….what struck me was what happened after the service. Aside from the sideways looks (the ones that made me want to scream “No, I didn’t come today because the subject was Black Lives Matter”), it was the people who acted like they had never seen me in the congregation before. I’ve been roundabout this congregation for 10+ years, so unless they showed up in the congregation since my last trip here a few months ago, they’ve seen my face. I am not a new entity here. And yet. And yet.

There were a group of us sitting around during coffee hour talking. I think a couple of people joined us because two of the people in this small group were people of color and thought we were talking about the sermon. We mentioned it in passing, but the majority of our conversation was about the area where I went to graduate school and where I did my internship. And when we made our move to not join in the discussion group that was going to talk about the sermon, people seemed to be really put out by the fact that we weren’t staying.

Something is going on in UU churches, and I’m not sure congregations are ready for it. And people of color are going to be hurt in the process.

How are UU congregations supporting people of color in their midst during this time of learning for the majority of white UUs?

(yes, I know the question has been asked before, but it continues to bear repeating)

Advertisements