It was a text from a colleague that sent me to the video recording of the sermon given by the Rev. Bill Sinkford at the Service of the Living Tradition at the General Assembly on June 23. (http://www.uua.org/ga/off-site/2016/worship/slt) Bill preached a sermon that we UU’s have needed to hear for decades. He said that Unitarian Universalism failed people of color in the 1960’s and 1970’s. The good news is that today we have been given another chance to get it right. It is the work of this faith to grapple honestly with white privilege and racism if it is to become the Beloved Community that we say we yearn for.
When Sinkford was elected, there were many who hoped that he, as an African American, would give UUism the answers to solving issues of racism both within our tradition and the larger culture. But as he said in his SOLT sermon, if he had the answer, don’t you think he would have waved his magic wand years ago? Ending racism isn’t the work of people of color. It is the work of those of us who are white skinned. Who because of no other reason other than the color of our skin, automatically have privilege and access in our culture that people of color do not. Until we examine white entitlement for what it is, we will be stuck, doomed to fall short of Beloved Community.
If these words seem harsh, try to see them as an invitation. Develop a curiosity about what they might mean. Ask questions. Not of people of color but of white skinned persons who are committed to examining what it means to be white and how that plays into perpetuating institutional and structural racism. This is not easy work. In fact it is at times, excruciating. But it is work that we in this faith tradition must embrace and engage in to usher in the Beloved Community.
Here are some resources to help start the learning and the conversations:
Between the World and Me -Ta-Nehisi Coates
Waking Up White: And Finding Myself in the Story of Race -Debbie Irving
Peace, Shalom, Salaam,