#21 | Leslie Peet | Don't single out Racism

"Submission 21
Leslie Peet
Countryside Church UU (Palatine, IL) 3411

What is your suggestion or idea?

Current text:
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.

Suggested amendment:
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.