There Has To Be More Than Emerson (The Canons We Have and What Looks Like Crazy On An Ordinary Day pt.2)

I knew it would happen as soon as the title for my last post came to mind.

I knew that some well-intentioned white people would send me private messages telling me I was wrong to use the word “crazy” because it is maligning those who have mental illnesses.

Before I get into the main point of this post, I want to talk a bit about words and word choice.
I try to be deliberate and precise when I write. I do this so people can get to my meaning without having to do mental contortions. Yet, most words have multiple meanings. For this reason I refuse to stop using words that have multiple meaning just because one of those meanings is problematic/troubling. Sometimes, it’s the right word because it has that problematic/troubling meaning. To step into it even more, I don’t think every word in every song needs to be changed because of a problematic/troubling word.
Now…I am not saying to be insensitive. I am saying that we need to extend some latitude when it comes to the words we have and understand the complexities of language. To repeat, sometimes the word is right because it is complex.

anyway…on to the main…
These last few weeks have brought into sharp relief how differently POCI and white people move around in the UU-universe, especially when it comes to the canons we have. And, subconsciously, the title of my last post was a test. A test that those who wrote me private messages failed. Spectacularly.

“What Looks Like Crazy On An Ordinary Day” is the title of a book written by Pearl Cleage, a black writer.

Off-and-on I have written about how limiting and limited the UU canon is (I last wrote about it a week ago). The messages I received today are just the latest example of that limitation.

In Unitarian Universalism, it’s ok to reference people of color occasionally. Just don’t do it too often or it will be assumed that your canon is limited. So you better not stray too far from Emerson and Thoreau or you’ll be in trouble.

It’s all connected, my friends; white supremacy in UU hiring practices to white supremacy in the canons one is allow to reference. The only way UUism can grow into the religious movement it’s supposed to be is by dismantling the white supremacy that pervades it.

There has to be more than Emerson. Because, sometimes, things really do look like crazy on an ordinary day.


What Looks Like Crazy On An Ordinary Day (A Question for the UUA Presidential Candidates)

(this is the first of three questions that I will pose to the candidates. if you aren’t interested in UUA politics, check back in about a week-and-a-half.)

Susan. Alison. Jeanne.

As always, it was good to see you this weekend at both the Board meeting and the New England Region forum.

So I have three questions for you. Each of them will be their own post. And I never do a question without set-up. This first question is probably going to be the longest.


Dr. King once said that 11:00 on Sunday morning is the most segregated hour of the week. Let’s lean in to that for a few moments, instead of bristling.
Instead of trying to make already existing UU congregations into mini-Rainbow Coalitions (and hurting POCI in the process while white ppl do their work), is the UUA capable of encouraging the creation of congregations in “nontraditional” UU areas and not being stumbling blocks to them (i.e.-Ethelred Brown and the Harlem Unitarian Church)?
Questions related to the above
1. What do you see as the UUA’s role in helping entrepreneural ministries in underserved UU areas?
2. Given the very mixed history of ministers of color in the UUA and its parent organizations, what do you see as the UUA’s role in helping achieve successful ministries when ministers of color are called to already existing UU congregations?
There’s more I could ask on this subject, but these questions/ideas seem big enough.