By Mike Givens on February 20, 2020
Black History Month has always been a time to uplift the courageous and groundbreaking accomplishments of black leaders. From Malcolm X., Marcus Garvey, and Harriet Tubman to Alvin Ailey, Ella Baker, and George Washington Carver, American history has been indelibly impacted by the accomplishments of black pioneers willing to push boundaries, challenge the status quo, and move our society forward in the name of progress and justice.
Through all of these great milestones and accomplishments, racism, specifically anti-blackness, has permeated our institutions, practices, and social norms dating back hundreds of years. In 2020, that anti-blackness is still quite prevalent across our nation, from New Hampshire to California.
If you’re reading this, then you’re probably familiar with the work UUSC does. The thread that unites all areas of the work that we do is an affirmation of the worth and dignity of every person. If you split that thread even further, you’ll see that race is a key component to the experiences that have caused the oppression and suffering of so many. Indigenous and native communities are routinely ignored when it comes to addressing the climate crisis; Latinx people are demonized by conservative pundits for exercising their right to migrate across borders; in the wake of natural and human-made disasters, people of color are usually left by the wayside. Racial intolerance has not only characterized our views of each other, it has seeped into the systems that we navigate daily.
From President Trump’s travel ban impacting nations that are predominantly black and brown to a Texas teenager who won’t be allowed to graduate high school because of his hair, we need look no further than our own communities to see the ferocity of intolerance.
As UUs, we are called not only to bear witness to these injustices, but to take action against them. Here are three reasons why UUs should care about anti-blackness.
1. The Urgency of Now: Turn on the television, surf the web, or read a newspaper and we’re accosted with stories of harm almost daily. The pervasiveness of social media and movements like Black Lives Matter have shined a light on the horrors experienced by black people across the country, and the world. Teachers are under fire for traumatizing students with racialized language and graphic lessons on slavery. Michael Bloomberg, a leading Democratic candidate for president, has a political past marred by racist comments and policies. Numerous articles have been written about the nation’s commander-in-chief and his history of disparaging black and brown people. The harm being inflicted is real and ever present. There is no better time than right now to turn against the racist and traumatizing behavior of the institutions that daily do harm.
2. The Next Generation: We often talk about the world our children will inherit. Do we want future generations to suffer through the disastrous impacts of the climate crisis? Are we concerned enough about sexism and gender inequality to make sure that in the coming decades we abolish these practices at work, home, and in our communities? In the same way we ask ourselves “what if?” about the world our children might grow into, we must also question whether we want those who come after us to live in a world filled with bigotry, hatred, and fear.
3. Our Values Demand It: Five of the seven principles of Unitarian Universalism are specifically rooted in our treatment and acceptance of others. The spirit of these principles is driven by a need to approach others with love, compassion, acceptance, and respect. The threat that anti-blackness poses to one is a threat to all. We can never purport to live in a civilized society when anyone is treated with anything less than dignity and honor.
UUSC is committed to rebuilding systems and institutions in ways that are equitable, affirming, and compassionate. When you donate to UUSC or become a member, you are contributing to building a movement steeped in love, respect, dignity, and acceptance.
It’s not too late to join our movement, one that is rooted in our intimate partnerships to grow collective liberation for all.
Photo Credit: iStock – Bastiaan Slabbers
About UUSC: Guided by the belief that all people have inherent worth and dignity, UUSC advances human rights globally by partnering with affected communities who are confronting injustice, mobilizing to challenge oppressive systems, and inspiring and sustaining spiritually grounded activism for justice. We invite you to join us in this journey toward realizing a better future!