In May 2022, the 8th Principle Steering Committee concluded that the members of Neighborhood Unitarian Universalist Church are in a place of understanding on the meaning of the 8th Principle and have adopted the 8th Principle.
The 8th Principle was written in 2013 by Paula Cole Jones, an African American former staff member of what is now the UUA Central East Region, and Bruce Pollack-Johnson, a white racial justice leader at the UU Church of the Restoration in Philadelphia. The text reads:
We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, covenant to affirm and promote: journeying toward spiritual wholeness by working to build a diverse multicultural Beloved Community by our actions that accountably dismantle racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions.
Beloved Community happens when people of diverse racial, ethnic, educational, class, gender, abilities, sexual orientation backgrounds/identities come together in an interdependent relationship of love, mutual respect, and care that seeks to realize justice within the community and in the broader world.
White UUs hold themselves accountable to communities of color, to make sure whites do what they say they will do. In practice, that can mean having a People of Color Caucus within congregations, districts, etc., to discern and express needs and concerns to the rest of the community. Black UUs hold each other accountable and help each other see and dismantle signs of internalized racism. We need an effective mechanism or structure to ensure this. Similarly for other oppressions.
For people identified as white, it is too easy to ignore these issues, which is exactly what keeps the system of racism in our society alive and in fact worsening right now. We need to de-center whiteness and other dominant cultures in UUism. The 8th Principle came from a feeling that we need something to renew our commitment to this work, to hold ourselves accountable, and to fulfill the potential of our existing principles.
At a global level, this would not necessarily make sense (for instance, the oppression of women is fundamental to poverty and lack of development in many areas), but in the USA, racism stands out. The two worst crises of the UUA (late 1960’s and now) were both related to race. Racism in the US stems from chattel slavery, where people were uniquely legally treated as property that could be inherited, for something (skin color) they had no control over.
The 8th Principle of Unitarian Universalism A great resource from Black Lives of UU (BLUU) covering the background and meaning of the 8th Principle
The 8th Principle: Our Collective Calling by Paula Cole Jones, February 28, 2021
To Pray Without Apology by Rosemary Bray McNatt