curating resources for anti-oppression work

As a congregation, we are committed to working toward a world in which Black lives truly matter. Our work is focused on three paths: inner work for us all to come to terms with our own attitudes on race; opportunities to build relationships with African Americans and groups in the community working on racial equality; and efforts to address the larger institutional racism that suffuses this country. In service to that work, we have begun using this blog as a place to curate resources and get out information regarding anti-oppression work in the community.

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Further Reflections on #BlackLivesMatter

One of the challenges of the ongoing conversation about racial justice in the United States is that the forums in which we discuss it and learn about it are largely social-media based. This means that there are lots of reactive responses, lots of memes and soundbytes, and not a lot of actual learning or discussion. I find that the complexity of the discussion often ends up pitting people against each other based on their personal loyalties, when, in fact, we are all called to work together to create a system that works equitably for all people.

This article helped me to clarify some of the questions I had, and to refocus my personal commitment to the movement.

In addition, Asheville has a SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice) chapter that meets weekly for conversation and discussion. SURJ is a national network of groups and individuals organizing white people for racial justice. FMI on local meetings, contact Rev. Lisa Bovee-Kemper/828-254-6001 x202.

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Some reflection on “All Lives Matter”

Some thoughts from steering committee member Tom Blanford, “This is an interesting and pretty straight forward argument on the “black lives matter”  “all lives matter” controversy.  It is unfortunately anonymous, and was part of a very long blog discussion.  I included the link to the reddit forum in which it is found.”

Imagine that you’re sitting down to dinner with your family, and while everyone else gets a serving of the meal, you don’t get any. So you say “I should get my fair share.” And as a direct response to this, your dad corrects you, saying, “everyone should get their fair share.” Now, that’s a wonderful sentiment — indeed, everyone should, and that was kinda your point in the first place: that you should be a part of everyone, and you should get your fair share also. However, dad’s smart-ass comment just dismissed you and didn’t solve the problem that you still haven’t gotten any!

The problem is that the statement “I should get my fair share” had an implicit “too” at the end: “I should get my fair share, too, just like everyone else.” But your dad’s response treated your statement as though you meant “only I should get my fair share”, which clearly was not your intention. As a result, his statement that “everyone should get their fair share,” while true, only served to ignore the problem you were trying to point out.

That’s the situation of the “black lives matter” movement. Culture, laws, the arts, religion, and everyone else repeatedly suggest that all lives should matter. Clearly, that message already abounds in our society.

The problem is that, in practice, the world doesn’t work the way. You see the film Nightcrawler? You know the part where Renee Russo tells Jake Gyllenhal that she doesn’t want footage of a black or latino person dying, she wants news stories about affluent white people being killed? That’s not made up out of whole cloth — there is a news bias toward stories that the majority of the audience (who are white) can identify with. So when a young black man gets killed (prior to the recent police shootings), it’s generally not considered “news”, while a middle-aged white woman being killed is treated as news. And to a large degree, that is accurate — young black men are killed in significantly disproportionate numbers, which is why we don’t treat it as anything new. But the result is that, societally, we don’t pay as much attention to certain people’s deaths as we do to others. So, currently, we don’t treat all lives as though they matter equally.

Just like asking dad for your fair share, the phrase “black lives matter” also has an implicit “too” at the end: it’s saying that black lives should also matter. But responding to this by saying “all lives matter” is willfully going back to ignoring the problem. It’s a way of dismissing the statement by falsely suggesting that it means “only black lives matter,” when that is obviously not the case. And so saying “all lives matter” as a direct response to “black lives matter” is essentially saying that we should just go back to ignoring the problem.

TL;DR: The phrase “Black lives matter” carries an implicit “too” at the end; it’s saying that black lives should also matter. Saying “all lives matter” is dismissing the very problems that the phrase is trying to draw attention to

editor’s notes: There is some strong language in the comments. Also, TL;DR means “too long, didn’t read” and is a shorthand used to precede a summary of the text.

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On the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, one woman shares her experience in a StoryCorps animated short.

Watch this:

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Voting Rights ~ A Reflection from Cecilia Rawlins

On July 28, I had the opportunity to attend a voting rights organizing meeting with a group of congregants.  We came together at UUCA to learn more about voting rights laws in NC.  It was led by 2 representatives of Democracy NC.  The highlight of the evening was the viewing of a video from the Forward Together movement.  While the video was a bit dated (Editor’s Note: It’s three years old, and a lot has happened in three years!), it gave viewers a good and informative  historical perspective on voting rights in NC. Anyone on the fence about the significance of voting rights in NC, need only watch this video.   We discussed how we can become more involved locally and how we can join other groups dedicated to help ALL have voting rights!  An upcoming meeting of  the Voter Engagement Coalition on August 3 will be attended by myself and three other members present at the meeting.    This group, and any other interested UUCA  congregants will meet again on September 22  at 6:30 in Sandburg Hall for action item updates and a voter registration training.  I am looking forward to working with this group and doing my part to help Buncombe County residents exercise  their voting rights.

Here’s the video:

Forward Together, Not One Step Back from Democracy NC on Vimeo.

Presented by Democracy North Carolina in partnership with the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University

North Carolina’s history around the struggle for the right to vote – and the backlash against it – offers rich insights and some that may surprise you. This short film is instructive and inspiring – reminding us to speak out and remain vigilant to stop legislation that threatens our democracy.

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Being a good ally

This link takes you to nine guidelines and perspectives from the American Friends Service Committee (Quakers) on attitudes white people should carry into “Black Lives Matter” demonstrations and actions.  This isn’t the “Bible” (ha) but there is food for reflection and discussion.   One additional point I have heard recently is that whites should not refer to themselves as allies in this struggle because alliances are temporary and can be dissolved when they no longer important to the parties involved.  Do you agree with these nine guidelines?

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Some thoughts on forgiveness

The families of the Charleston victims were widely praised in the media and by moderate leaders for their Christian forgiveness toward the shooter.  This author argues that this forgiveness is historically expected of Black people, or they will suffer serious consequences.  President Obama can not appear to be an Angry Black Man, regardless of how he is disrespected.  The author asks where this praise for forgiveness was on September 11, 2001, when fury and demand for revenge carried us into several wars. Where is forgiveness for the Marathon bombers?

After reading the article, what do you notice? What feelings come up for you? What are your thoughts on forgiveness and anger in this context?

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Moral March in Winston-Salem

A delegation from UUCA attended the Moral March in Winston-Salem on July 13.

Winston MM July 13 2015

Unitarian Universalists came from across the country to join in the march as well. It was a powerful and inspiring afternoon! Check out the video of Rev. Dr. William J. Barber’s speech, as well as Rev. Peter Morales speaking at 31:15 

For more press on the event, click here. Or here.

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