On November 9th, The United States of America learned about who we are as a people. Half the country experienced a painful electrical shock-- an uneasy and incredulous punch to the gut. The other half experienced a sense of relief, a weight lifted off their shoulders, a perceived long-due recognition that their voice is finally heard. We are split, tragically, a huge gap between opposing sides.
How can we have such opposing views? How did we get here? How do we bridge this tragic gap?
For the past two weekends, I attended workshop called, "Living the Pledge to End Racism" that was brilliantly organized by UUCA lay leaders Jessi Ray and Tracey Rogers. Three members of the board-- Janice Morris, Andrea Ryon and myself attended two consecutive Saturdays Nov 12th and Nov. 19th. So did 20 or so brave souls, many who were not UUCA members, and several who were new to UUCA.
We learned about the Black Lives Matter movement, recognizing and confronting bias, speaking up against microaggressions, and the difference between structural and institutional racism. Most importantly though, it was an opportunity to process our feelings, and start to solidify our role in a rapidly changing landscape.
The one thing I have been absolutely certain of is that the mission at UUCA has never been more clear and more urgent. Now is our time. We were built for this moment. All the pettiness has just fallen to the wayside, and we are called to play a central role to bridge the tragic gap in order uphold the principles of American democracy and human decency. Sound dramatic? Well, it is. We are in dramatic times, and this calls for dramatic action.
If UUCA cannot be a leader in upholding the principles of social justice, gosh, even justice itself, then who can? We must hold leaders accountable for their actions, advocate for the oppressed, educate leaders, and nurture our spirit in order to give us the courage to act. This is going to be very hard work. As Chair of the Board in Trustees, I am encouraging each and every member of this church to participate, volunteer, and lead. We need you. We need each other.
More workshops are planned starting in January. But we will need more leaders, more volunteers and more resources so we can accelerate our efforts.
What can you do right now? Center yourself over the Thanksgiving Holiday and ask yourself to recommit to End Racism, and help bridge this tragic gap. There are a couple ways you can get involved:
You can sign up for the Race Reflection Session, which is a covenantal-style two-hour session reflecting on the issues of race, justice and white privilege. These will fill up quickly, but we will add many more.
You can go to The Pledge to End Racism in Northern Virginia Facebook page to get resources and keep current about events, workshops, and seminars.
Finally, get in touch with Jessi Ray at firstname.lastname@example.org, and she will put you on a volunteer list so you can help with future events.
The iconic Generation X rock band Jesus Jones wrote: "I've been waiting for this... Right Here, Right Now, watching the world wake up from history." History has caught up to us, and now we are called to act-- right here, right now. Let's join hands and let's do this.