Hit Dogs Holler

If you knew your history, then you would know where I’m coming from. Then you wouldn’t have to ask me who the hell do I think I am.
–Bob Marley

So…some bloody coward decided to do a hit piece of the Skinner House book “Centering” and call it a “review.” I am in no way shocked by this hit piece (although I’m surprised that it took 2 years for the bloody coward to write it), because a whole lot of white people [especially white liberals] don’t like it when Black people and other people of color hurt their fragile feelings when we tell them the truth of our experiences with them.

What’s really interesting to me is that these same cowards who write hit piece ignore the evidence, like the evidence I wrote about–in September–from the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion* which–as the abstract details:

In response to these inquiries, representatives from mainline Protestant churches—who generally embrace liberal, egalitarian attitudes toward race relations—actually demonstrated the most discriminatory behavior. They responded most frequently to emails with white-sounding names, somewhat less frequently to black-or Hispanic-sounding names, and much less to Asian-sounding names. They also sent shorter, less welcoming responses to nonwhite names. In contrast, evangelical Protestant and Catholic churches showed little variation across treatment groups in their responses.  

The research shows that white liberal churches are less welcoming to newcomers who aren’t white. That being the case, why would the experiences of religious professionals of color in white liberal churches be any different? And why was the bloody coward so butt-hurt about it?

It took the train ride back from San Diego for it to come to me: hit dogs holler. The bloody coward reviewer has mistreated people of color in their congregation and doesn’t like their behavior being displayed for all the world to see. Or, they’re mad that people of color are not “grateful” enough about being “allowed” into “their” Unitarian Universalism.

Whatever the reason, the hit dogs hollering have given me the idea for a new syllabus; the “No Time For White Nonsense” syllabus. It’ll be a minute before I’ll have the first draft of it up as a page here, but all this ignant (yes, ignant, not ignorant) nonsense must get called out for what it is.


*–Wright, Bradley R. E., Michael Wallace, Annie Scola Wisnesky, Christopher M. Donnelly, Stacy Missari, and Christine Zozula. 2015. “Religion, Race, and Discrimination: A Field Experiment of How American Churches Welcome Newcomers.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 54 (2): 185–204. doi:10.1111/jssr.12193.

The “Souls of Black Folk” Test

Unless something changes before I head off to AAR (American Academy of Religion) in San Diego next week, this will be the first year in more than a decade that I haven’t preached or been invited to preach in a UU pulpit anywhere.  And I’m asking myself, “Am I sad about this?”

Honestly?  Not really.

It is rather freeing to be able to preach and reference people/work and not have to wonder if the audience has any idea of who the person/work being referenced is. I call this the “Souls of Black Folk” test. And the vast majority of UU congregations fail it miserably.

As I’ve written about before, there is a limited number of non-white references that can be preached from a UU pulpit and not have the majority of the audience give back blank faces. What this year of being away from a UU pulpit has taught me is just how much the modern world (and modern thought) has passed UUism by. For example, this year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Dr. James Cone’s “Black Theology and Black Power” and next year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the English-language publication of Paulo Freire’s “Pedagogy of the Oppressed.” I can probably count on both my hands the number of congregations in which either one of those people were referenced, much less any Womanist/Mujerista-Latina/Asian-Asian American women/Indigenous thinkers. And don’t even get me started on the conversations/thoughts on the scriptures of the world’s religions done by people from the “global south.” Or theoethics from marginalized perspectives.

But I’ve been talking about this for a long time. Not much has changed, at least in most UU congregations. And I’m guessing that most UUs are just fine with that.

I think this year of not being in a UU pulpit is a sign. As far as UUism goes, BLUU gives me what I need. AAR feeds me in ways that excite me. And my other religious commitments feed me in other ways.

I don’t know what next year holds, but if it ends up the same as this year, I won’t be disappointed.