#73 | Derek Catlin | Remove "dismantle racism"

Submission 73
Derek Catlin
University UU Fellowship, Inc. (Orlando, FL) 2920

What is your suggestion or idea?

Change ““We covenant to dismantle racism and all forms of systemic oppression”” to ““we covenant to oppose all forms of system oppression””.

What is the reason for your amendment idea?

““Dismantle”” is very negative.
There is no reason to call out racism.

Have you discussed this idea with your congregation or other UUs?

yes. Our congregation has held many meetings on the subject of the proposed amendments.


Yes. “Dismantling racism” is trendy jargon that makes this section sound like it was inspired by Twitter activism


I agree with Derek. I believe that activities potentially resulting from using words like “dismantle” and “accountable” could actually block us from truly becoming a diverse, multicultural community. From my observations, many people of color including immigrants, especially if they are traditionally religious, tend to have more conservative views on women and LGBTQ issues. If we “dismantled” the people who have conservative views on women and LGBTQ issues due to their upbringing, it would seem difficult for us to build a multiracial, spiritual community. We should, instead, accept them as they are and work with them so that they become awakened—not dismantled—about the rights of women and LGBTQ people.


Agree with @DerekCatlin. Would change his “system oppression” with “systemic oppression.”


I don’t feel committed to specific word formulations but the inclusion of “dismantle racism” seems to stem from very specific and relevant structural factors associated with both the UUA and its predominently “white” membership as well as the explicitly racist society that spawned the UUA and contributed to its disproportionate demographics.

UUs, both “white” and “people of color”, remain strongly affected in various ways by racism. And, as racism functions as a powerful superstition embedded in social institutions, traditions, unconscious habits, and personal psyches, it seems critical to address it if we want to (yes) dismantle the inequalities that racism contributes to.

This does not mean dismantling people (as @kenjiyano suggested)—just the ideas, misconceptions, prejudice, and injustices that racism creates and reproduces.

As to the question, Why Single Out Racism?, contributors to this process have singled out racism above all other oppressions for various reasons noting that the “two worst crises of the UUA (late 1960’s and now) were both related to race”. I would add that racism via colonialism seems to remain a key factor in organizing unequal social relations both within the U.S. and globally.

And, as the 8th Principle link above noted, UUs seem to have fared much better in relation to embracing “the Women’s Movement” than anti-racism.

If anything, I’d ask if the revision should not also include classism—another key factor of unequal social relations in the world and the UUA—to the statement “dismantle racism” (especially as the two intertwine so closely).


Yes!!! I assume you also meant include classism?

I have to ask why you DON’T THINK that UU’s should “dismantle racism”. in this regard, I think your amendment is one of the more honest ones.

I guess you addressed this one (but not your comment below) to me?
Yes, I wondered if including classism seemed appropriate here.

@AnthonyFiscella, I appreciate your comment.

The use of the word “dismantle” seems to exclude other approaches to ending systemic racism. For example, people on the oppressive side of the spectrum, who are deeply entrenched in the ideas, misconceptions, prejudice, and injustices that racism creates and reproduces, could be awakened.

If we still believe in the inherent worth and dignity of “every” person, we should also address the potential of the privileged. The word “dismantle” sounds punitive and might contradict the UU 1st principle in my opinion.

Also, for the same reasons, “dismantling racism” would make our anti-racism approach less pluralistic contradicting one of the values this proposed Article II touts (Section C-2.2. Values and Covenant).

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@kenjiyano Thank you, I appreciate your comment as well.

It seems that we read the term “dismantle” quite differently.

I see as descriptive, not punitive. Broad, not contrary to pluralist means or methods.

And people awakening to the vicious, pernicious, and superstitious character of racism, to me, amounts very much to dismantling it.

But I do hear that you read the term very differently than I do.


Dismantle definition (worklnk)

  1. To put an end to in a gradual systematic way. I can see that the use of the word dismantle has a present moment context that may fade, but I also see it as addressing the need to address the systemic problem of racism (and other oppression) with long-term systemic effort. Effort that hopefully UU can shoulder over the generations.
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There absolutely is a need to call out racism. Look at the world we are in! We are not dismantling people, we are dismantling a system. We are asking people to take the racism out of themselves and their actions.