From ZaNyaa Lee, M.A. CLCC
Membership and Community Coordinator Neighborhood UU
What do justice, equality, and compassion in human relations look like in everyday life? How do we show up and speak up when we see that justice, equality, and compassion are not being expressed, honored, or upheld?
Last week our congregation showed up by standing with Sequoyah High School through an outpouring of love and compassion as their school was picketed by an organization known for spreading a message of hate towards LGBTQ+ populations and those who do not adhere to their strict biblical interpretations and religious doctrine. The Sunday before the picketing, members of our congregation and larger Pasadena community participated in training and sign making events in preparation for the demonstration. At the same time, just a few feet away, the Neighborhood People of Color and White Allies groups were hosting a workshop centered around the short film Quiet Denial by Zuri Alexander.
The workshop was filled with rich historical research, discussion topics, and Zuri’s personal experiences as a classically trained pianist of color. Through these topics, white people and people of color were invited to reflect on the many small and often imperceptible ways that racist attitudes and behaviors are supported in our everyday lives. It was a powerful workshop primed for deep learning, listening, and conversation. It was even more memorable and meaningful to experience it in an interracial forum, with folks of all ages and races right outside pouring out messages of love to address an immediate threat to the values that are upheld by the Neighborhood Church and the UU community at large. It was a very “gentle, angry people” moment.
On the heels of this experience, on Friday March 1st, the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) shared a statement from the Commission on Institutional Change encouraging members of the UU faith to continue having deep conversations around the uncomfortable topic of racism and the ways that it impacts our spaces, beliefs, and members of our beloved communities. The commission states:
“If we shut it down, we will cease to be relevant to those who come into our doors emboldened by our embracing theology and believing for the first time they have found a place where they name their pain. And if we shut it down, we do not hear the pain of our elders who are looking at the national elections and other practices and wondering what has happened to the world for which they worked so hard for all their lives.”
As we continue to explore what it means to be UU and a member of Neighborhood Church in 2019, let us continue to learn, engage in self-exploration, and have the uncomfortable conversations that allow the seven principles to be fully lived and experienced in our daily lives.
If you would like support with this process, please be in touch with Neighborhood’s Social Justice and Inclusion Coordinator, Luis Sierra Campos, to learn more about supports available both within and and outside of the church community. Below there are a few questions to consider from the UUA:
- What would it mean to go deeper into the conversation?
- What would it mean to understand the individual work against oppression that is a deep spiritual practice
- What would it mean to address the ways it is embedded in our very institutions and their culture?
Neighborhood Unitarian Universalist Church is a religious community of open hearts and open minds that creates and grows an inclusive family connected by love, spirit, and service.