What would Unitarian Universalism look like if people of color were allowed to write the story of it?
One of the reasons that Black Panther and Wakanda are such a phenomenon in many circles is because of the story it tells. The story of a people and a land in Africa that was never touched by the “colonizer” (aka white people and white supremacy). The story of a people and a land in Africa that was allowed to developed on its own and to keep its resources.
Of course, that’s why Black Panther and Wakanda are fantasy.
The colonizers did come to Africa.
The colonizers did rape and pillage; both the land and the people.
And that is why, dear friends, so many people of color are coming out of the movie saying some form of, “Know what…Killmonger had a point.”
What does this have to do with Unitarian Universalism?
What would it mean to look at Unitarian Universalism as a colonizer religion? How would that change the story that gets told?
What if the story of Unitarian Universalism was told from the perspectives of Killmonger; those who have been left behind or ignored or pushed to the side?
What would the story of Unitarian Universalism be if people of color got to tell their stories without fear?
As St. Paul says, “think on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)
I was going to write another post on what I think Wakanda has to teach Unitarian Universalism, but the longer I’ve thought about it, I need to take a step back.
One thing I know is that the Florida shooting was going to get talked about from the pulpit in UU congregations today. (and so it should) Yet, just as I’m sure about the Florida shooting being talked about, I’m almost as sure that Wakanda/Black Panther won’t get notice at all in most UU congregations.
Now….some of this is the “that could have been my child” factor about the Florida shooting (oh, I could write so much about this point. but won’t). And some of this is UU snobbery about cultural things that might have mainstream appeal.
But I think some of it is that the Black Panther universe is so explicitly Black that most UUs are too uncomfortable even imagining a place where whiteness is not centered. Where white people only play a small, side role in what’s going on (and that role being prescribed by a smart black woman….oooo weeeee! I ain’t even gonna go there).
So….was Black Panther mentioned from the pulpit in your UU congregation today?
There are so many things that Wakanda could tell Unitarian Universalism. This post will talk about one.
For those of you who’ve seen “Black Panther”, you will know that the title of this post comes from a conversation between T’Challa and Zuri. “Don’t tell me what’s possible. Tell me the truth.”
I’ve been thinking about denial in Unitarian Universalism lately; both active denial and passive denial.
Since the latest iteration of the racial justice problems in Unitarian Universalism became public almost a year ago, many UUs of color have been telling their stories of how white supremacy shows itself in UU congregations and other UU institutions. Yet, when presented with these stories, many white UUs have flatly denied or tried to rationalize what UUs of color experience.
UU religious professionals of color are STILL being pushed out of jobs and white parishioners are covering their eyes and saying that they “need to speak with one voice”.
UUs of color are getting told they are “too confrontational” when reading a piece of a work written by a person of color during a worship service.
White UUs want badly to believe certain things about their congregations. They want to believe in the “what’s possible.”
UUs of color are telling the truth of what is actually going on in UU congregations.
When the Commission on Institutional Change issues a more detailed report, how are white UUs going to handle it? Are they going to keep being in denial (the “what’s possible”)? Or will they listen to the truth?
I may write more on what I think Wakanda has to tell Unitarian Universalism, but I need to see it again before I make up my mind.
So this past week has been the week of stories related to UU churches seemingly going out of their way to be explicitly unwelcoming to people of color–particularly visitors.
What is it going to take for UU congregations to understand that visitors, especially visitors of color, want to be greeted as if they didn’t make a mistake walking in the door? That the congregation sees their visit as the gift it is? That hospitality is a big part of the call of working towards being the Beloved Community? That hospitality means something?
If UU congregations want to get anywhere in their racial justice work, it would help if they started with their own congregations.
If UU congregations want to be relevant in the future, they need to get woke now. Because if they don’t, they will get left behind.
I could make this post about the time, during my ministerial internship, when I was asked “When did February become Black History Month?” I could, but I won’t.
Yet it does seem right, on this first day of Black History Month, to ask how prepared UU congregations are to honor the month.
What’s your UU congregation doing to acknowledge the month? Is it doing anything?