Were Y’all Always This Clueless? Or Is This Willful Ignorance?

On Monday night, Michelle Obama gave her speech at the Democratic National Convention. I didn’t watch the speech, as I am not watching the convention. But I did see clips of it afterward.

The big point that has been talked about since that speech has been when Michelle pointed out that she lives in a house that slaves built.

Was this news to white people? Because there can be no other explanation for so many media outlets AND Smithsonian Magazine to “fact check” that line.

SLAVES BUILT THE WHITE HOUSE!

SLAVES BUILT MOST OF THE U.S. CAPITOL BUILDING!

SLAVES BUILT MOST OF WASHINGTON, D.C.!  (the old part of it)

How is this news?!!?!??!

In a country where 12 of the first 16 Presidents either OWNED slaves or had other, deep ties to slavery, why did media outlets feel the need to fact-check Michelle Obama’s statement of that? I do not understand this.

Were y’all always this clueless? Or is this yet another example willful ignorance?

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Can People of Color Truly Be Safe in UU Congregations?

Situation #1

There was a memorial service for someone I knew at a UU congregation last Sunday. I knew the officiant for the service, and had emailed them earlier to let them know I was going to be at the service and if they needed anything to let me know. As I had made the offer, I arrived at the building an hour or so beforehand. After coming out of the restroom, another person of color (somebody I’ve known for a long time)  looked at me and started crying. She came over to me and said, “I’m so glad you’re here. You have no idea how hard it’s been coming to church these past two weeks.” When I asked her what she meant, she began to describe the conversations that had been going on in her congregation in the wake of the Sterling, Castile, and Dallas shootings and the Baton Rouge shooting that had happened just that morning. Being one of the few people of color in this congregation (it used to have more, but doesn’t now), she has been feeling as if she had to answer for the Dallas and Baton Rouge shootings, but nobody took time or seemed to care about how she might be feeling about the Sterling or Castile shootings. She’s now wondering how often she can go to her congregation.

Situation #2

Somebody who I admire greatly is a staff member at a UU congregation. Not long before GA, this person relayed a story of how they (and others involved in the congregation–lay and ordained) received a diatribe email that complained about the congregation being involved with anything related to BlackLivesMatter. The diatribe ended with the person who wrote it calling staff members “people of SOME color.” (emphasis mine)

I’ve been thinking about safety a lot for the past year, for many reasons. (some of you might have heard me talk about this at GA) These two situations bring those thoughts into much clearer focus.

In a denomination that is as white as Unitarian Universalism is, can people of color really be safe in our congregations?

What do we mean when we talk about “safe” congregations? [yes, I know that’s about sexual exploitation and abuse, but work with me here]

I’ll Skip the “National Conversation on Race.” I Have Better Things to Do. (#BlackLivesMatter)

In every interview I’ve seen with her, the FIRST question Philando Castile’s mother gets asked is about Dallas. Nobody in Dallas gets asked about Philando Castile or Alton Sterling first.

But the events of the last week has the white political and commentary classes now saying that we need to have a “national conversation on race [or about race relations]”.

I’ll skip this conversation, thanks. I have better things to do. Like bite my nails and flip through the Woman Within catalog that arrived in the mail Monday.

listen up my white, liberal friends. America has been having a “national conversation on race” for 397 years now. And black humanity is STILL up for debate.  There is no conversation to be had while my–and my people’s–humanity is up for debate; at least not for me.

As long as Philando Castile’s mother is asked about Dallas first when nobody in Dallas is asked about Philando Castile first, miss me with talk of a national conversation.

As long as Dr. King is trotted out to get black people to shut up and stop complaining, miss me with talk of a national conversation.

As long as so many white people continue to search for some reason to say that [Eric Garner/Mike Brown/Tamir Rice/John Crawford/Walter Scott/Freddie Gray/Sandra Bland/Alton Sterling/Philando Castile] did something to deserve the fate they met, miss me with talk of a national conversation.

As long as the “it’s class, not race” people continue to ignore the fact that poor whites are not policed the same as middle-class blacks, miss me with talk of a national conversation.

I have better things to do.

Are You There God? It’s Me, Hagar. A Meditation on the Past 28 Hours (#BlackLivesMatter)

Are you there God? It’s me, Hagar.

Wasn’t it enough that Sarai gave me to Abram so he could have a child?

That when I tried to get away YOU told me to go back?

So I go back. And endure.

Endure.

And Ishmael is born.

I have a reason to endure.

But then came Isaac.

And my Ishmael became a threat.

Abram put my child on my back and sent us out  into the wilderness.

We have been in the wilderness ever since.

And my Ishmael is still considered a threat.

No matter what he does.

YOU said that YOU would make a great nation of my Ishmael.

Are YOU there God?

Isaac’s nation is killing us.

Are YOU there God?

I’m tired of looking at the death of my child.

Are YOU there God?

Are YOU there?