A message from the Rev. Suzelle Lynch
Four years ago, at a congregational meeting in January of 2016, the members of UUCW passed a resolution in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. That resolution served as a platform upon which we have done a great deal of learning about racism and white supremacy culture. It also served as a basis for actions as diverse as public witness events with the Coalition for Justice (like the annual Dontre Day, named for Dontre Hamilton, a young black man killed by Milwaukee police in Red Arrow Park), choosing recipients for Split the Plate funding, and helping to form Black Lives Matter to Wisconsin UUs (BLM2WUU), a five-congregation racial justice collaboration.
Since 2016, much has happened in the country and in our denomination that reveals the extent to which “white supremacy culture” is embedded in every institution and structure in our society.
What do we mean by “white supremacy culture”? The word culture represents the way of life of a group of people — the behaviors, beliefs, values, and symbols that they accept as “right and proper.” Culture – these values, beliefs, and behaviors — are passed from one generation to the next, generally without question or examination. The dominant culture of the United States is based on white Christian patriarchal values and beliefs, which support a social culture and political and economic systems that first enslaved people of color, including indigenous peoples, and continue to exploit them. These political and economic systems are self-perpetuating; they continue to this day, ensuring the on-going accumulation of wealth and structural power that privileges, centralizes, and elevates white people.
This dominant culture is largely invisible to those of us who are white and privileged by it. The harmful effects of it, however, are experienced daily by those whose race, gender, sexual identity, religion, ethnicity, ability, age, or other marginalized identity do not fit the “norm.” Only by uncovering, acknowledging, and examining this dominant culture of white supremacy and its harmful impacts can we hope to build a congregation and society of equity and justice.
It is shocking to realize that our UU culture is enmeshed with a dominant culture system that perpetuates racism, sexism, homophobia, antisemitism, Islamophobia, xenophobia, ableism and other oppressions, and to realize that the policies and practices of the Unitarian Universalist Association and our UU congregation need to be examined. The UUA has called itself, and all its member congregations, to do the hard work of identifying and dismantling white supremacy culture within our organizations. We are also urged to support and engage with partners beyond our congregation to address it in the larger community.
We seek to do these things so that we might become the inclusive, welcoming, and beloved community we long for.
Last year, the UUCW Board gave their support to a resolution brought to them by the Social Action Council, a resolution that commits us as a congregation to examine and dismantle white supremacy culture. We’ve begun this work already and will continue with education, dialogue and community discussion within the congregation about how white supremacy culture manifests itself in our congregation and impacts us. The Board, committees, and staff will be invited to examine policies and practices and to recommend and implement changes that will help us be a community dedicated to inclusion and combatting oppression in all its forms. The Board also gave support to a resolution that endorses the addition of a proposed 8th Principle to the UUA’s Principles. You can learn more about the 8th Principle here:
Both of these resolutions will come to the congregation for approval during the upcoming church year, so please watch for more information, and opportunities to learn and discuss them!
Blessings to you all,
The Rev. Suzelle Lynch
White Supremacy Culture – explanation by Showing Up For Racial Justice
The Characteristics of White Supremacy Culture From Dismantling Racism: A Workbook for Social Change Groups, by Kenneth Jones and Tema Okun, ChangeWork, 2001
Why Are We Talking About White Supremacy? UU World, Winter, 2018
No, I Won’t Stop Saying White Supremacy, Robin DiAngelo,
10 Insidious Ways White Supremacy Shows Up in Everyday Life, Kali Holloway,
Taking Aim at Multi-Racial Democracy: Antisemitism, White Nationalism, and Anti-Immigrant Racism in the Era of Trump,
Blog on White Privilege and Antisemitism, Danica Bornstein,
Understanding Antisemitism: An Offering to Our Movement, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice
More information about the background, need and reasons for proposed 8th principle see here.