We Unitarian Universalists pride ourselves on our diversity. In our fellowship you’ll find Atheists, Agnostics, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Goddess worshipers, and more, all trying to learn from each other and spiritually grow together. It’s truly refreshing, isn’t it?
But we’re not perfect.
Something we’ve struggled with for many years, and which we’re often embarrassed to ask out loud, is “With all our openness to all kinds of points-of-view, why are we still a majority-white movement?”
Now, granted, the Upper Cape is a majority-white part of Massachusetts; and yet, do we as a fellowship reflect the rich cultural diversity the Cape nonetheless enjoys? And if not, why not?
The first thing we can do is recognize the ugly reality of white supremacy culture.
“White supremacy culture” is not a reference to overt white supremacists like the KKK or Neo-Nazis; the key term here is “culture.” Do we who are white understand that we have a culture? That there are unspoken norms and ways of being and doing that we take for granted as normal, but which are in fact “white”? That doesn’t make them necessarily all bad, but they do, nonetheless, exist. They are real and have real consequences.
The phrase “white supremacy culture” refers to how these white cultural norms keep white people in power and silence people of color. “White supremacy culture” can be at work even if all the given white folk in the institution want to be racially inclusive and diverse.
We who are white have to choose, consciously and deliberately, to refuse to be complicit in white supremacy culture. One way to start is by truly listening to people of color in our community. Just listen. As a relative new comer to the Cape I have learned so much by listening to African-American, Cape Verdean, Jewish, and Wampanoag persons I’ve met through groups like the Falmouth Racial Justice League and No Place For Hate. As one African-American resident of Falmouth told me, “This happy-go-lucky beach town is like a house with a shiny coat of white paint; it’s beautiful and nice but chip beneath the surface and you’ll find so much rot.”
We have a lot of work to do. Thankfully, there are many opportunities coming up to get started.
*On March 28th at 7:00 pm we’ll be showing “Journeys Into the Light: Untold Stories of Cape Cod.” This film tells the history of people of color on the Cape. Come and learn the true cultural complexity and diversity of this land we live on.
*On April 8th our Sunday service will feature music, readings, and reflections entirely by people of color, with a focus on Unitarian Universalists of color. Our faith may be majority-white but there are many persons of color among us. Their story is our story.
My fellow white persons:
Will you join me in refusing to be complicit with white supremacy culture?
Will you join me in doing what we can to build the diverse, multicultural Beloved Community we long for? Let’s get to work.