Sunday, February 4, 2018: Black Lives UU (BLUU)

THOUGHT FOR COMTEMPLATION:

“The moment we cease to hold each other, the moment that we break faith with one another-the sea engulfs us and the light goes out.”

(by James Baldwin) ( * )

PRELUDE

WELCOMING WORDS: Nita P.

CALL TO WORSHIP: “Ground of Being” (by Natalie Fenimore) ( * )

Knowing ourselves radiant,

May we know God radiant

Beautiful as a clear-eyed child

Blinding us in glory.

Knowing ourselves as dark,

May we know God dark

Beautiful as sun-kissed skin

Fertile as the deep rich earth.

God of the Earth,

Spirit of Life,

You are for us as the ground is for seed,

Warm and nurturing,

You are our sacred birthplace

In you we sprout, take root, and grow;

Like growing seeds, may we live into our radiance,

Our possibilities, our imaginings, and our love.

INTROIT

LIGHTING OF THE CHALICE: Molly & Bridget B

A Chalice

Cradle of our dreams,

And Fire

Our power unleashed.

A Chalice

Holder of love,

And Fire

To kindle our courage.

(by Rev. Dr. Anita Farber-Robertson)

OPENING HYMN: “Hush, Hush” (#1040) ( * )

OUR COVENANT:

Love is the doctrine of this church,

The quest for truth is its sacrament,

And service is its prayer.

To dwell together in peace,

To seek knowledge in freedom,

To serve humankind in fellowship,

To the end that all souls

Shall grow into harmony with the Divine.

This is our great covenant,

One with another, and with our God.

SONG OF ASPIRATION:

From all that dwell below the skies,

Let songs of hope and faith arise,

Let peace, good-will on earth be sung,

Through every land, by every tongue.

Amen.

CHILDREN’S TIME: Rev. Anita

This is an invitation to more carefully notice and attend to who people are and how they really look, rather than lumping people into categories.

Rev. Anita chose a child to stand next to her, and then told the story from Rev. Anita’s 5th grade experience about the teacher who was teaching art and asked what color a boy in the class was. Looking at the child now standing next to Rev. Anita, she posed the question to our children. When they said “white”, she held up a piece of white paper and ask if that really is the color of this child. She then held up a piece of black paper and ask if anyone is really that color? Red paper and ask if Native Americans are really red. Her daughter from Korea – is she yellow?

No, we say those things to make categories of people, and that stops us from really looking at them and seeing who they are.

What color would you say this child standing next to Rev. Anita really is? Look around. Can you name other colors that some of you are? Isn’t it better to really see the person and notice who they really are then just putting them in a category?

SINGING CHILDREN TO THEIR CLASSES:

Go now in peace, go now in peace;

may the love of God surround you,

everywhere,

everywhere

you may go.

CANDLES OF JOY AND SORROW

MEDITATION AND PRAYER

MUSICAL MEDITATION

RACE, POWER & PRIVILEGE: “Why It Matters to Me” (by John R.)

Good morning! I’d like to tell you a little story about the time I was discriminated against for being black. I know you’re probably thinking “Oh yeah! That would be an easy mistake to make. Must happen all the time.” But in case you’re not thinking that, this happened a long time ago when my hair was very dark and very, very curly. When I let it grow, it turned into a close imitation of an Afro. For those of you who weren’t around in the 60s and 70s, that means it was big and round, and it was a popular style among Black radicals. Of course, to anyone seeing me up close and in good light, I was obviously white, but it wasn’t always daylight, and some people only saw me from a distance.

At that time Bonnie, my then girlfriend and now wife, was living in an apartment close to campus. It was a nice apartment in a building that didn’t usually rent to students, and at the end of the year she went to renew the lease. The building manager told her he couldn’t renew the lease because other tenants were complaining that a Black man was visiting her at night and they were worried.

The reason for telling this little anecdote is that for me, because I’m white, it is just an odd little anecdote that I can pull out once every few years when it happens to fit into the conversation, but nothing at all significant. Bonnie and I found that a convenient time to get an apartment together, and of course it was no trouble to find one. Had I actually been black, that would have been a different story.

But since reading “Waking up White,” the book we’ll be discussing in the Parlor at noon, I’ve been thinking more about what that story. How did it feel? Did I feel rejected? No. They rejected some fictitious black guy. Had nothing to do with me. Did I feel humiliated? No. I admit I felt some smug superiority, knowing that those stupid racists couldn’t even do discrimination right, because they couldn’t tell a black guy from a white guy. How would I have felt if I had been Black? It’s only speculation, but I probably would have felt powerless. And I probably would have been angry. Not the anger that flares up and is forgotten in a few minutes, but the kind that poisons your thoughts for days at a time.

So in summary, it’s taken me four decades to do what we’re supposed to learn to do in elementary school: to think about how another person would feel in the same situation. It’s never too late to learn something new.

OFFERTORY

READING: “I Too Am Beautiful” (by Kristen Harper) ( * )

My inner spirit wrote: “I have spent my life watching you, seeing your accomplishments, living the way I think you want me to. I have watched the way you move and the way you talk. I have listened to your story and learned your history. I have sat patiently as you explained your politics, your religion, your philosophy of life. I have walked with you on a journey of faith waiting for my turn to share, to explain, to lead.”

Look at me – I am black and you are white, but I too am beautiful.

Look at my face, my hair, my clothes – they may be different

but aren’t they worthy of your gaze?

Look at my walk, the way my hips sway to the music in my soul,

the way my proud neck tilts to the sun, yes look at me

Look at my darkness, it contains light and love, rebirth and growth

Look at my pain, don’t turn away

Look at the way you see me, I am human, I have tears and fears,

I have laughter and joy

Look at me and walk with me

I too am beautiful.

HYMN: “I Need You to Survive”

RACE, POWER AND PRIVILEGE: “Why It Matters to Me” (by Rev. Anita)

When I was a senior in high school, the only subject I needed to graduate was English. So when winter passed into spring, and the warm weather erupted, many of my friends and I skipped school and took the city bus to the beach. We weren’t the only ones. The city bus was full of kids from a variety of high schools, all headed to the beach instead of being in school. The bud driver laughed with us.

But the warm days were many that year, the beaches were fresh and clean and pure. Chuck, my best friend, and I could not resist.

The day came when I received a notice while sitting in home room, to come to the office of the Dean of Women. As I walked through the halls, I bumped into Chuck who had a similar note in his hand, calling him to report to the office of the Dean of Men. We looked at each other with a grimace and a shrug, and parted company as we each headed to the appropriate office.

After school we met up and told our respective stories.

The Dean of Women had said to me:

“Anita, you have accumulated a lot of absences here. An awful lot- almost more than are permitted. We are concerned. Are you not happy here? Is something troubling you? How can we help, so that you come to school?”

The Dean of Men had said to Chuck:

“Harris! What do you think you are doing, with all of these absences? It’s got to stop. One more absence, and Harris, you are out of here- out of school! Got it?”

Oh, did I mention that Chuck was African American? That I am White?

That Chuck’s African American mother held two Master’s Degrees in two different subjects. That she was a pioneer working with Elizabeth Kubler-Ross at the time developing the science of the study of death and dying?

That my White parents on the other hand had no degrees. My father, an immigrant, had not finished high school. My mother had dropped out of college.

But Chuck was Black and I was White. Truancy would get him thrown out of school, and it would get me care, concern and an offer of resources.

That was the tailwind that got me ahead, the headwind that kept Chuck behind.

FROM BLACK LIVES UU: For Reflection ( * )

Quotes from Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism

Readers: John P., Rebecca M., John R., Mary Beth G., Doug D., Mary D., Julia F., Garin B., Wendy M., Joe R., Michelle A.

1.) “Create a new TABLE where the values of our faith are both promised and practiced.” (Dr. Leon Spencer)

2.) “Let us decrease so that our brothers and sisters who live on the underside of history may increase.” (Rev. Yolanda Pierce)

3.) “Let us be humble and listen to the pain, rage and grief pouring from the lips of our neighbors and friends.” Rev. Yolanda Pierce

4.) “This moment is an invitation to ourselves and our broader communities to do this long needed work of justice and redemption driven by our values and supported by our faith.” (Rev. Sofia Betancourt)

5.) “Let us be silent when we don’t know what to say.” (Rev. Yolanda Pierce)

6.) “This is the opportunity in our pain and in our healing. (Dr. Leon Spencer )

7.) “Let us not speak of reconciliation without speaking of reparations and restoration, or how we can repair the breach and how we can restore the loss.”

8.) “We become more whole when we lean into the full humanity of all people.” (Rev. Sofia Betancourt)

9.) “Let us listen to the shattering glass and let us smell the purifying fires for it is the language of the unheard. (Rev. Yolanda Pierce)

10.) “Show me my own complicity in injustice. Convict me for my indifference. Forgive me when I have remained silent. Equip me with a zeal of righteousness. Never let me grow accustomed or acclimated to unrighteousness.” (Rev. Yolanda Pierce)

11.) “Say yes, show up, participate, and be faithful.” (Rev. Sofia Betancourt)

HYMN: “There Is a Balm in Gilead” (#1045) ( * )

READING: “The Seven Principles of Black Lives UU” ( * ) read by Cathy S. & Rev. Anita

Black Lives of UU presents: 7 Principles of Black Lives

The Movement for Black Lives Convening, held in Cleveland, OH July 24 – 26, 2015, brought together over 1,500 Black people from across the country to build, heal, learn & organize.

It was a truly historic gathering. We the Unitarian Universalist Caucus took time that weekend to discuss the various issues we face in our faith as Black people. While many challenges and personal experiences were shared, one thing stood out for us all: Our Unitarian Universalist faith is what CALLS US to say that Black Lives Matter.

We see a direct link between the 7 UU Principles and the Movement for Black Lives. We – those of us at the Movement for Black Lives Convening, along with other Black UUs – created this document to present to our faith the 7 Principles of Black Lives.

Our hope is that this direct connection between our faith & the fight for Black liberation will make clear the URGENT need for all those who call themselves Unitarian Universalists to declare, without caveat or clarification, that Black Lives Matter.

During the week of 9/14/15 we released one Principle of Black Lives per day outlining the important principles that guide us in the work towards Black liberation, how these principles connect with the 7 UU Principles and how we were able to live out these principles at the Movement for Black Lives Convening.

Principle #1:

ALL BLACK LIVES MATTER

Queer Black lives, trans Black lives, formerly incarcerated Black lives, differently-abled Black lives, Black women’s lives, immigrant Black lives, Black elderly and children’s lives. ALL BLACK LIVES MATTER and are creators of this space. We throw no one under the bus. We rise together.

The Movement for Black Lives calls on the Unitarian Universalist faith – a faith willing to make the bold proclamation that each person inherently matters – to live up to that claim by working toward a future in which Black lives are truly valued in our society. We call on UUs to actively resist notions that Black lives only matter if conformed to white, middle-class norms, and to challenge assumptions of worth centered around clothing, diction, education, or other status. Our value is not conditional.

Principle #2:

Love and Self-Love is practiced in every element of all we do

Love and Self-Love must be drivers of all our work and indicators of our success. Without this principle and without healing, we will harm each other and undermine our movement.

The Movement for Black Lives seeks to build a society where Black people thrive instead of survive. We seek justice for those we have lost to police violence, we seek equity in housing, education and healthcare, we seek compassion from our fellow UUs for the struggle we are called to be a part of.

Principle #3

Spiritual growth is directly tied to our ability to embrace our whole selves

A principled struggle must exist in a positive environment. We must be honest with one another by embracing direct, loving communication & acknowledgment of all that we are and all that we hope to be.

The spiritual growth of UUs of Color is directly tied to our ability to stand in the truth that Black Lives Matter, that our lives matter, both in the wider world and just as importantly in our UU congregations. We call on our UU congregations and the UUA to support our work towards wholeness as Black people. We must be honest with one another by embracing direct, loving communication.

Principle #4

Experimentation and innovation must be built into our work

Embrace the best tools, practices, and tactics, and leave behind those that no longer serve us. Evaluation and assessment must be built into our work. Critical reflection must be part of all our work. We learn from our mistakes and our victories.

The Movement for Black Lives works daily to expose the truth about Black life in this country and in the world. To uncover the layer of white supremacy that exists in this society. To bring to light the Anti-Blackness that is present in our everyday lives. We call on all UUs to root out the Anti-Blackness that exists within our congregations and our faith.

Principle #5

Most Directly Affected people are experts at their own lives

Those most directly affected by racial injustice & oppression should be in leadership, at the center of our movement, and telling their stories directly.

We stand in the Movement for Black Lives at a time in which voting rights are being threatened at every turn. Black people are being denied the most basic of rights – ?the right to vote and have adequate representation in our country. We work towards a society in which Black life is valued, in which Black life is not discarded, in which Black Lives Matters, and in which the work of Black people is seen as equal to their white counterparts. Black voices in our congregations, in our faith, and in the world must be valued.

Principle #6

Thriving instead of Surviving

Our vision is based on the world we want, and not the world we are currently in. We seek to transform, not simply to react. We want our people to thrive, not just exist – ?and to think beyond the possible.

Any work towards peace, liberty and justice must address racial injustice. Black UUs are calling our faith to join us as we work towards justice for ALL Black people and by extension for all people.

Principle #7

360 degree vision

We honor the past struggles and wisdom from our elders. The work we do today builds the foundations of movements of tomorrow. We consider our mark on future generations.

Acknowledging the ways in which a Supremacist society diminishes us ALL is a critical part of the work of the Movement for Black Lives. When the most marginalized of our society is free, then we will ALL truly be free. We call on our faith to affirm the truth that only when Black Lives Matter will All Lives TRULY Matter. As Dr. King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

CLOSING HYMN: “Lift Every Voice and Sing” (#149) ( * )

Reflections on Lift Every Voice and Sing by Aisha Ansano

This song deserves to be sung with attention. It is a song that starkly names the horrors and violence of racism in this country, and it is a song that should make us uncomfortable: Uncomfortable with the history that it calls upon, uncomfortable with the fact that the struggle for racial justice continues, and has not come quite so far as it should have by now. How can anyone sing the words “treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered” without a deep, deep discomfort?

So when we sing this song, will you join me in singing with intentionality? Will you join me in the deep discomfort that I will be feeling in singing those words? Discomfort with the pain and horror that those words refer back to, and discomfort with the fact that those words do not only refer to a distant history, but also to what is happening now?

Will you commit to sitting with your own discomfort? And will you tap into that discomfort and so something?

Will you lift your voice and sing until earth and heaven ring with the harmonies of liberty?

EXTINGUISHING THE CHALICE (read by the congregation):

We extinguish the flame but not the light of truth,

the warmth of community,

or the fire of commitment.

These we carry in our hearts until we are together again.

BENEDICTION

CONGREGATIONAL RESPONSE:

May the long time sun shine upon you,

all love surround you,

and the pure light within you

guide you all the way home.

POSTLUDE

( * ) = indicates the author/composer is a person of color