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Let’s Talk About Black Lives Matter

Delegates at each UUA General Assembly (GA) have the opportunity to take positions on issues that require immediate attention through Actions of Immediate Witness, which express the conscience and carries the authority of the delegates at the GA at which it is passed. These resolutions call on Unitarian Universalist congregations and individuals to take immediate steps to address timely and urgent social justice concerns.

At GA in June, the delegates voted to adopt three Actions of Immediate Witness. Here are links to each:
Support a Strong, Compassionate Global Climate Agreement in 2015: Act for a Livable Climate
End Immigrant Child and Family Detention Now
Support the Black Lives Matter Movement 

Without choosing a favorite (for I support all three), I want to call your attention to Black Lives Matter, which I believe presents a unique opportunity for our congregation to have deep, meaningful, and sometimes uncomfortable conversations about white supremacy; structural, legal, and cultural racism; police and the justice system; and the historical and spiritual responsibilities of UUs in the ongoing struggle for black liberation in our country.

I don’t find these conversations to be particularly easy, and I constantly second-guess myself about when to wear the Black Lives Matter button that I got at GA. Whenever I do, I seem to become a lightning rod for others’ feelings about race. At an ice-cream shop at a Massachusetts resort in August, the (white) man ahead of me in line scowled when he saw my button, and once he had his ice cream in hand, he turned to me and snarled angrily, “Cops lives matter!” As I left the store, the man’s wife and teenage son stopped me and quietly apologized for his behavior. Wow, I thought, if they’re apologizing to me—another white guy on vacation in an upscale ice cream shop—how often must they cringe and feel sorry about his rage when a person of color asserts that black lives matter?

At Ingathering, Rev. Roberta pointed out that she was wearing a Black Lives Matter button on her stole and promised that we would be engaging with the substance and consequences of the Action of Immediate Witness. Look for more from her. To prepare, I urge you to read the resolution. You might also look at Letter to My Son by Ta-Nehisi Coates in the current issue of The Atlantic. And if you see me wearing my button, let’s have a conversation of a much higher order than the one I had in the ice cream shop.
—Jeff Lott