Over the last few months, UCS leaders have come together to take a public stand on Black Lives Matter as a congregation. On April 10, 2016 at 12:30 pm, UCS voting members will gather for a congregational meeting to discuss the issues and vote on the stand. We invite you to read the statement and commit to educating yourself on the issue.
Statement: We Affirm that Black Lives Matter
Inspired by our commitment to “Standing on the Side of Love”, we feel called to take a stand about the stain of racism in America.
A terrible series of violent deaths of young Black men at the hands of police officers has shocked us and highlighted inherent disparities in law enforcement’s treatment of White people and Black people (1, 2). Somewhat less visibly, under our criminal justice system, Black Americans are arrested with greater frequency for even minor infractions, convicted more often and receive more extreme sentences for the same crimes compared to White Americans (3). The high rate of incarceration for young Black men has had devastating impacts on loss of income, unemployment rates, homelessness and the continuing destruction of the fabric of their families and communities (3, 4). We see systemic racism at work in both dramatic ways (as in the killings in Charleston and the bombing of Black churches) and more subtle ones (as in discrimination in housing and banking (5, 6, 7), leading to a profound loss of hope within the Black community .
THEREFORE, AS A CONGREGATION, WE ARE CALLED TO BEAR WITNESS AND STAND AS ALLIES WITH BLACK AMERICANS IN THEIR STRUGGLES FOR JUSTICE, EQUALITY AND SECURITY.
WE AFFIRM THAT BLACK LIVES MATTER.
To understand the current state of race relations, we must educate ourselves and reflect honestly on the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow policies and the “New Jim Crow.” By adopting this statement, we commit to educating ourselves by reading books such as Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me, Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy and Waking Up White by Debby Irving and by accessing online resources such as the Facebook Group “UUs Resisting the New Jim Crow and Mass Incarceration”. Other options for self-education in 2016 include: joining Beloved Conversations on Race at UCS and/or participating in Conversations on Race, sponsored by the Summit Interfaith Council.
And, as the Congregation of the Unitarian Church in Summit, we will take actions to bear witness and stand as allies with Black Americans. This may include: publicizing and attending rallies and vigils; organizing events at the church to educate and raise awareness, and posting a “Black Lives Matter” banner. We also pledge to challenge acts of racial injustice wherever we encounter them.
Submitted by: Margaret Bennett, Claudia Cohen, Jean Crichton, Bill Edwards, Cathy Menendez, Mia Morse, Kimi Nakata, Mel Polatchek & Lorraine Wearley.
- MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT AND MATT APUZZO,
South Carolina Officer Is Charged With Murder of Walter Scott, NYT, APRIL 7, 2015.
- AL BAKER, J. DAVID GOODMAN AND BENJAMIN MUELLER, Beyond the Chokehold: The Path to Eric Garner’s Death, NYT, June 13, 2015
- MICHELLE ALEXANDER, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in an Age of Colorblindness, The New Press, 2012.
- JUSTIN WOLFERS, DAVID LEONHARDT AND KEVIN QUEALY, 1.5 Million Missing Black Men, NYT, April 20, 2015.
- JESSICA SILVER-GREENBERG AND MICHAEL CORKERY, Evans Bank Settles New York “Redlining” Lawsuit, NYT, September 10, 2015.
- PAUL KIEL AND ANNIE WALDMAN, The Color of Debt: How Collection Suits Squeeze Black Neighborhoods, ProPublica, October 8, 2015
- TUCKER, J.B., The Ultimate White Privilege Statistics and Data Post, www.jbtucker.com, February, 2015.
If you’d like to learn more about how UCS takes a public stand, visit ucsummit.org and click on Who We Are/Policies and Documents/Take a Stand. UCS has taken public stands on Moving Toward Peace, Marriage Equality, Reproductive Freedom, and Gun Violence Prevention.
Leaders from our Racial Justice Task Force, Beloved Conversations curriculum, Social Action Committee, and UU Legislative Ministry are involved in shaping our statement, our reflection, and our action.