Countryside Church UU (Palatine, IL) 3411
What is your suggestion or idea?
Justice. We work to be diverse multicultural Beloved Communities where all thrive. We covenant to dismantle racism and all forms of systemic oppression. We support the use of inclusive democratic processes to make decisions.
Justice. We work to be diverse multicultural Beloved Communities where all thrive. We covenant to dismantle all forms of systematic oppression and to support the worth and dignity of all. We support the use of inclusive democratic processes to make decisions.
What is the reason for your amendment idea?
The current text, by calling out racism alone, implies that other forms of systematic oppression, such as sexism and homophobia, are insignificant. We all know that this isn’t true. We all know that sexism and homophobia kill. When they don’t kill these oppressions distort and limit the lives of women and LGBTQ. Sexism and homophobia maim physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. They are just as much a part of our culture as racism. If we focus on only one of these oppressions we will never succeed in creating a just society because oppressions such as homophobia, racism, and sexism among others are based on a mindset that says “You people over there, you’re not human; you don’t count”. We need to oppose all of these oppressions in order to remove them from our society. By calling out only one oppression we diminish the harm done to other groups.
Have you discussed this idea with your congregation or other UUs?
I presented this idea to the Chicago Area UU Council meeting in March 2023 at Countryside Church UU."
The UUA has been trying to get us to focus on racism since 1997, and they’ve doubled down ever since the leadership debacle of 2017. They haven’t succeeded. UUs want to take racism as one problem among others and not the defining characteristic of UUism or of US society.
Great amendment. There are so many forms of oppression (racism, patriarchy, gun violence, immigration, food insecurity, democracy, wealth inequality, ecological destruction and oppression of other species, LGBTQ oppressions, reproductive health and freedom, deprivation of healthcare, homelessness and so on) that to call out racism alone in a document that is going to hopefully be a tool for us to use for a long time is too narrow.
Change covenant to aspire.
Completely agree. As a member of EqUUal Access I am once again frustrated by the singling out of a specific oppression. I firmly believe as Eli Clare has so eloquently discussed that ableism in the root of all of our oppressions; if you are not a white, cisgendered heterosexual male who is productive and needs no one that you are “less than” and/or other. I do not think Article II is the place to articulate that; Jonathan’s suggestion is clear and concise.
I see the point - deminishing any oppression is not a good idea.
I see a need to define oppression more broadly as that is consistent with UU values, but I also see racism as a defining characteristic of US society - and so should be called out seperately with the additon of “and oppression of any form.”
We do have a systemicly racist society and UU has grown up in that society. Racism is demonstrated in oppression. All forms of oppression, for black and brown people, is universally more prevelant and leathal. Justice for black and brown bretheren is justice and without it something else.
We have a systemically anti-woman, anti-LGBTQ, anti-disabled society, too. All those are demonstrated in oppression as well. Being Queer in America is also lethal, especially if you’re Trans. Playing “my oppression is worse than yours” serves no one. I support this amendment.
I think we run into a similar problem here that the Commission identified in trying to move away from “listing” the Sources. Either we can try to do some kind of call-out that is incomplete but maybe find a concise grouping that works for people, or we can go with a more generalizing approach.
I would note that classism is a big issue in UUism too. I liked Rev. Dr. Sofia Betancourt’s answer to a question I posed about how can we (especially lay leaders who may lack the training religious professionals receive) best address the sometimes intersectional marginalizations of disability and class.
She noted (paraphrasing here) that for other categories that society tends to impose to treat people as lesser, we can’t actually give of ourselves to equalize the imbalance–we can’t become another person’s race, become disabled, etc., but we can remedy income disparity by giving money, so this becomes a touchy subject.
I am not against calling out race, as the Charge directed this factor to be incorporated, but in that case, I think we need to try to summarize the kinds of other oppressions–much as many congregations do in their welcoming language in every service. To say “racism and other oppressions” is sort of like saying “Judeo-Christianity and other world religions.”
If there is a concensus that oppressions are not more often experienced by black and brown people, then I would agree. Maybe this source will help provide some of the data that shows black people are disproportantely in harms way - oppression, subtle or violent -
I feel we are getting it right by leaving racism in the Justice value.
I’ve been trying to find some research that compares race vs trans vs other oppressed people. And I’m not finding anything. But as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I will continue to say that playing the “my oppression is worse than yours” serves no one. I want our UU text to recognize this and not elevate on oppression over another.
Scott’s comment that “racism [is] a defining characteristic of US society” gets at what makes this question so tricky. I agree: racism has a special connection to US history, and more generally to the history of settler colonialism in the Americas, while patriarchy, ableism, class oppression, etc., are not all that different in the US and in other cultures. But why exactly should Article II be written from a US-specific perspective? It is true that the UUA is largely structured as a US and Filipino organization, but for me as a person of faith I want to think of myself primarily as a member of the world community.
This isn’t really an argument one way or the other on this amendment; just trying to raise an issue for more reflection.
I prefer to think of racism as first among equals of the oppressions that concern UUs in the society we swim in. Racism has been with us the longest and has most severely impacted all of our lives during the entirety of the lifetimes of any living human on this continent at least. Racism is the gateway, in my observation, to all other oppressions. It is the one many White people grew up in that kinda made it ok to accept that there are “others” in the world that can be treated differently and kinda made it ok, then, to oppress others based on other identities. It is the one that BIPOC grew up in that shaped their worldview as well, and exacerbating oppressions arising from other identities they may hold that intersect. As a gay man pushing 70, I’ve come to recognize that my liberation is bound up in that of all others. If mechanisms can be found that dismantle racism, those mechanisms will operate to dismantle other oppressions as well. If we are unable, as UU’s to name the truth that racism exists as an oppression in our culture, then I have serious doubt that we can recognize and address other oppressions. Because racism is so deeply entrenched in our cultural dna, it made it just fine for this culture to oppress me also. I am not in the least bit troubled by the proposed Article II text on racism and oppression, but would be troubled by our inability to name racism.
I agree. It’s painful to admit because it means — for white people — that we have lived our lives benefitting from a white supremacist culture that gave us advantage after advantage we closed our eyes to. That’s what we really have to give up — that automatic unearned trust and move to the front of the line reaction we get handed to us. Giving up white supremacy is harder than working to be anti-racist. We can start by acknowledging it exists and we’re the beneficiaries.
I agree that all forms of systemic oppression are important. But I don’t view the specific naming of racism as meaning that other forms of oppression are insignificant–if they were insignificant, they wouldn’t be mentioned. Rather, like Bruce, I view racism as a gateway to other forms of oppression. I strongly believe that all forms of oppression are intertwined. To successfully fight any form of oppression, we have to fight all forms of oppression. Otherwise, we’re just rearranging oppressions rather than fighting it. And I think racism is so deeply ingrained in us that it is helpful to keep it top of mind lest we wind up trying to rearrange oppressions.
Support amendment #16 Proposed Amendment by responding to it if you agree –
32 We covenant to dismantle [racism and all forms of systemic oppression.] l**l---- all forms of cultural and systemic oppression, including but not limited to racial, ethnic, religious, sexual orientation, gender, etc. We support the use of33 inclusive democratic processes to make decisions. If the amendment receives support from 50% of the delegates in the mini-assemblies then it will move on through the process at General Assembly.
Support amendment #16 Proposed Amendment by responding to it if you agree –
32 We covenant to dismantle [racism and all forms of systemic oppression.] all forms of cultural and systemic oppression, including but not limited to racial, ethnic, religious, sexual orientation, gender, etc. We support the use of inclusive democratic processes to make decisions. If the amendment receives support from 50% of the delegates in the mini-assemblies then it will move on through the process at General Assembly.
Deborah, I have a different understanding of the process - I thought there was NOT any voting at the mini-assembly.
There will not be voting at the mini assembly - there can’t be. Ballots are open for 24 hours, so we wouldn’t know results until Friday at 2:30 pm. The amendments will be introduced starting on Thursday afternoon.
I believe this need to call out racism specifically comes from the lived experience of many us (I’m a dark-skinned, Black, queer woman that occasionally walks with a cane). I have worked with unhoused folks, I have been in disability circles, and I’m a professional justice advocate/organizer. But I have had people remind me that no matter what kind of life they have, they would take disability or poverty over being Black.
I agree with the person above who says that we should only focus on the US, but the hatred of Black people and the socialized anti-Blackness that harms so many of us is global. Liberation is interconnected. When you work to dismantle racism, you also work to dismantle ablism (since Black people can be disabled), you dismantle patriarch (since Black women exists), and etc.
I am not a proponent of the oppression olympics. I do not wish to build a hierarchy of who should receive more care. I can only give some perspective of my own lived experience. When we are not asked to explicitly address racism (as a society), we then ignore it.
Is there language that can be kept to address this (my perspective) as well as yours?
That makes sense chronologically, but not democratically. The business agenda lists discussions of Article II amendments at general/business sessions on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, but does not specify a vote on any of those days, unless I simply missed it. Friday and Saturday do have updates on ballot results from the day before. Are you sure that ballots are open for 24 hours? Or once we are at GA, does that time shrink to 1 or more hours after the close of the session? @UUA-Larry can you help us sort this out?
@EmilyinMA & @Sally
See the Final Agenda (bottom of page 63):
Amendments to the Proposed Revision of Article II do not require a vote at the mini-assembly. Instead, per Article XV, Section C-15.1, (c) (3) (ii), “The Moderator, in consultation with the chair of the study commission, the parliamentarian and legal counsel shall prioritize proposed amendments for consideration by the General Assembly.”