“Our times ask us to exercise our capacity for prophetic witness, by Prophetic witness I mean our capacity to see what is happening, to say what is happening and to act in accordance with what we know….Prophetic witness …is the ability to name those places where we resist knowing what needs to be known.”
~ Rebecca Parker, UU Theologian and Minister
2016 is done, the year has turned, and we’ve entered into 2017 exploring the relevant theme of prophecy in our congregation. In RE this month we are guided by Rebecca Parker’s words to develop some “…capacity to see what is happening, to say what is happening and to act in accordance with what we know…” through a unit titled Black People Matter.
As Unitarian Universalists, our beliefs in the inherent worth and dignity of every person, and a world with peace, freedom, and justice for all, calls us to stand against systemic racism and oppression. Black People Matter was developed out of the First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee to address these important topics with our young people. Our K-8th grades have begun to participate in Black People Matter, exploring themes of identity, privilege, and systemic racism towards African Americans. While we recognize that racism exists towards groups other than African Americans, we are focusing on Black, because of the ever increasing awareness that African Americans are facing systemic oppression in our nation that is literally deadly.
Our children and youth engage with this program in different and age appropriate ways. The past several weeks the K-5th group has considered shades of skin, explicit and hidden messages authors convey about race and beauty by considering a number of picture books, and different ways the color of your skin can affect how you are treated in the world. The middle school group delved into the discussion of “Black Lives Matter” vs. “All Lives Matter” and different parameters of privilege. I encourage you to ask them what they know about these important subjects.
Racism and oppression are not “easy” topics for most of us to discuss. The fact that it causes a lot of discomfort though, is why we are tackling it in our Tahoma UU community together. The objective is to begin a conversation, a place where thoughtful discourse is encouraged and accepted as we struggle through some big issues with the youngest among us. Perhaps they will teach us something!
Director of Religious Education