• Social Justice News, April 2017

    At our March 12th meeting, all three proposed Social Justice Sponsored Projects were overwhelmingly approved to go before the May Congregational meeting for a vote.

    1. Resisting Oppression is the identified issue. (This will replace the Confronting Racism Project.) Project Leader (Nancy) “Kelly.” The Title/Objective is tentatively “Standing with marginalized local communities targeted due to race, ethnicity, religion, poverty, class, sexual orientation or gender identity.” The L:FDC will continue as a major part of this Project. Funds of $1,500 requested. Whether or not UUCB will affiliate again with CCISCO (Contra Costa County Interfaith Supporting Community Organization) is being discussed. If the SJC decides that UUCB will affiliate again, the additional amount of $1,000 will be requested for CCISCO.
    2. Green Sanctuary Program (The UUA Green Sanctuary Program provides a path for congregational study, reflection, and action in response to environmental challenges). Project Leader Mark Miner. This would include developing a Green Sanctuary Team, identifying assessments to conduct, and creating an action plan. The amount of money suggested was $1,000.
    3. Unjust Deportations of Immigrants is the issue, and the title and objective is “Sanctuary as Love of Neighbor.” Project Leader Elisabeth Jay explained that there are three ways to “do” sanctuary that are broader than physically housing people: accompaniment, advocacy and participation in Rapid Response. Suggested $2,000, which is flexible.

    Dialoging Across Race, Class, Power and Privilege – Here is a quick summary of what Julie Rogers presented: Attendees were asked our associations with the words race, power, privilege, and oppression, discussed things that get in the way of effective communication, and practiced Nonviolent Communication (NVC) skills. Among the skills we learned were empathic presence, reflecting what we heard and identifying underlying feelings and needs, identifying our own feelings and needs, and being aware of the difference between our intentions and the impacts our actions have.

    LFDC (Literature, Film and Drama Contingent of the Confronting Racism Project) – At our Second Annual Guest Speaker Luncheon we hosted Reverend Donnell Jones and his charming family on March 5th. Reverend Jones was the epitome of warmth, spirituality, and grace. He encouraged us to go forward with the “three C’s: courage, compassion, and collaboration”—in our resistance locally against, for example, expansion of the jail in West County, as well as walking with him, literally, on Friday nights, volunteering in local schools, marching, and showing up at town hall meetings. “I’m a preacher,” Reverend Jones asserted; “Can I get a few amens?” And he got them, along with the vociferous affirmation of a core UU principle—the worth and dignity of every person—during the moment when his fundamentalist beliefs regarding LGBTQ issues bumped up against our values. For our April 2nd meeting, director and actor Darold Holloway will discuss August Wilson’s play “Fences.”  Our Book Selection for May 7th is Nancy Isenberg’s study, White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America.

    Undie Sunday for GRIP, April 30 (Greater Richmond Interfaith Program) As in years past, we will collect donations of packaged underwear as well as socks and pajamas for the residents of the GRIP Family Shelter. This tradition has been one of the many ways that UUCB has lovingly supported GRIP over the years. Please bring your gifts of packaged underwear, socks and/or pajamas for men, women, and children, and put them in the collection basket next to the Social Justice table in the social hall. Your donations don’t have to be limited to underwear—any new or gently used clothing for the GRIP residents would be most appreciated. Thank you.

  • Social Justice, March 2017

    LITERATURE, FILM & DRAMA CONTINGENT OF THE CONFRONTING RACISM PROJECT

    Rev. Donnell Jones

    SECOND ANNUAL SPEAKER LUNCHEON

    MARCH 5TH at 12:15 in the Fireside Room

    Reverend Donnell Jones: The State of Race Relations in Contra Costa County and in a Fearful Nation
    Reverend Jones has been a pastor for 27 years at churches in Tennessee, Alabama, and California. In 2008, he and his wife opened New Direction Christian Academy, a private school educating K-8th grade students. He has served as a Community Organizer and as Interim Executive Director of CCISCO (Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization), organizing around issues of crime prevention, immigration, education, and economic equality. He is currently serving as the coordinator for the Richmond Ceasefire Initiative and Civilian Review Authority, tasked with evaluating and scrutinizing violence reduction efforts in Richmond. He was appointed to the Contra Costa County Racial Justice Coalition in 2015.

    Social Justice Council February Potluck/Meeting Are We Chaplains of the Empire or Prophets of Resistance? Discussion and Vote on Congregational Priority: Referring to the choices made by the groups at the January 11th SJC meeting, a lively discussion took place. The final version of the priority for the Congregation was: “Stand with those local people who are targeted or marginalized because of race, religion, ethnicity, LGBTQ, income inequality, poverty or class.” In addition, Mark Miner has convened a group called “Green Sanctuary Program” expecting to work on and educate about environmental justice. They will be completing an application, hoping to be approved as a Sponsored Project by the Social Justice Council. “Cultivating Common Truth in a Divided Nation: Uniting People on Both Sides of the 2016 Presidential Election” – This is the working title of a documentary proposed by Gail Simpson and award-winning documentarian Connie Field. Gail was looking for and received support from the Social Justice Council. Creating the film will include meetings between ten or so members of a liberal church (UUCB) and a conservative church, who will meet for a series of structured encounters over perhaps a year. Reverend Christian has already volunteered to be one of the people to enter into this dialogue. For this project, UUCB help is only needed for meeting space and volunteers. Funds will be found elsewhere.

    Dialoging Across Race, Class, Power and Privilege – Saturday, February 18, 1-5pm. Following up on the “Cracking the Codes” workshop, this training was facilitated by Nonviolent Communication (NVC) facilitator, diversity trainer and consultant Nancy Kahn. This was another event sponsored by the LFDC (Literature, Film and Drama Contingent of the Confronting Racism Project). About 50 UUCB members and friends were led through a process of talking about race, class, power and privilege. Conversations in pairs gave attendees a chance to deeply listen to another, and feed back to the speaker what the listener had heard. Then the pairs worked together on identifying what piece the listener may have missed, noticing how easy it is to be thinking of oneself instead of the other. These skills can enhance authentic connection as we, together, work to create a world where everyone’s needs matter. Lonnie Moseley shared on the UUCB Discuss List: “Thank you very much for bringing Nancy Kahn and providing the NVC workshop. The tools and skills she offered give real implementation power to our Church’s “Covenant of Right Relations.”  

    St. Mark’s Immigration ForumThanks to Joanne Wile for pulling together this session on February 19th that was jointly sponsored by UUCB and St. Mark’s Catholic Church in Richmond. Over 200 people attended the meeting, hearing a review of individuals’ constitutional rights by immigration attorney Elisabeth Pellegrin, who led the event using role-plays (with help from ACLU Chapter Chair Antonio Medrano) to demonstrate what to do if stopped in the street or authorities come to your house. Over 500 “red cards” were distributed, providing a script about constitutional rights for anyone dealing with immigration representatives. UUCB had nearly 20 attendees, including co-minister Rev. Kristin, and three Spanish speakers, Julie Rogers, Linda Laskowski and Jack Duggan, worked the welcome table. Further resource information was provided by the ACLU of Northern CA Berkeley/Northeast Bay Chapter. Linda had this to say: “This opportunity was life-changing. Nearly everyone in that room either had no papers, or knew someone who didn’t. At some point, some of them will be in a situation where they will remember what they learned. It literally will change their lives.

    Postcard Writing – At our February 19th service, Rev. Kristin suggested that we write postcards to legislators to make sure they support the proposed California SB-4, which would achieve universal health care (including immigrants!). Postcards and sample notes were made available by BRAND NEW member Brenda Kienan, who partnered with Beth Jerde. It surely looked like a lot of UUCB-ers took advantage of their opportunity to take a social justice action!

    LFDC (Literature, Film and Drama Contingent of the Confronting Racism Project) discussed J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, and tried to understand why people vote against their interests. We reviewed two powerful movies: “Hidden Figures” and “I Am Not Your Negro,” instructive for the way they depict how things have changed in 30 years, and how they have not.

    On March 5, Reverend Donnell Jones will talk about The State of Race Relations in Contra Costa County and in a Fearful Nation at the LFDC’s Second Annual Guest Speaker Luncheon. We have another special meeting planned for April – watch for the announcement in The Week Ahead. This gives us two months to read (or listen on tape to) Nancy Isenberg’s study, White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America, our book selection for May. More info: camilleparker@comcast.net

  • Social Justice News, February 2017

    Cracking the Codes: Ninety UUCB members and friends attended an amazing workshop on January 7th! Amikaeyla Gaston provided warm and wise facilitation of the film Cracking the Codes: A System of Racial Inequities that focused on understanding the language of racial inequities as they are expressed in interpersonal, institutional and structural forms. Attendees’ feedback included “presentation was breathtaking and amazing.” ..”enhanced my awareness of systemic racism,” “It brought awareness to me that I can make a difference if I see something racist and speak up.”

    Training in Nonviolent Communication, Saturday, February 18, 1-5 pm: Following up on the “Cracking the Codes” workshop, this training (again sponsored by the Confronting Racism Project’s LFDC group) will lead UUCB members and friends through a process of talking about race, class, power and privilege, as we learn to speak our truth with power and love. We will learn skills to enhance authentic connection as we, together, create a world where everyone’s needs matter. We are hoping that UUCB youth will be able to join us.

    Social Justice Council January Potluck/Meeting: We welcomed representatives of our Good Neighbor nonprofits (that receive our plate offerings), and they were guests at our potluck. They gave us summaries of their work.

    “Post Election – Are We Chaplains of the Empire or Prophets of the Resistance?” – Craig Scott and Karen Paull (and 1,000 other lawyers) attended a forum on how to be a good ally. Craig and Karen made available to us information from the forum with a summary they called “Issues for the Resistance,” to assist the Council as it aims toward a social justice priority for the congregation. They also provided a quote by Rev. William Barber III:

    “WE is the most significant word in the social justice vocabulary.

    The issue is not what we can’t do, but what we CAN do when we stand together.

    Craig and Karen posed these two questions to the Council:

    “How may we, as a faith community, be called on to resist unjust and unconstitutional measures by the new U.S. Administration?

    And, “How might we as a UU congregation prioritize our efforts to resist?

    Five groups met and came up with priorities after reflecting on the ten “Issues for the Resistance.”

    “Stand with local communities targeted because of race, religion, ethnicity, etc.” All five groups identified this issue as a priority.

    “Oppose unjust treatment of Immigrants.” Three groups identified this as a priority.

    “Stand with LGBTQ brothers and Sisters.” Three groups identified this as a priority.

    “Health Care for All.” Two groups identified this as a priority.

    “Local Housing, Food, Poverty.” One group created this new priority.

    “Oppose Efforts to limit our Free Press.” One group identified this as a priority

    “Preserve Quality Public Education.” One group identified this as a priority.

    SJC effort to identify one issue to focus on for our congregation continues.

    LFDC (Literature, Film and Drama Contingent of the Confronting Racism Project) The Literature, Film & Drama Contingent of the Confronting Racism Project has a lively roster for the next several months. On February 5th: We will add a “Social Justice Resolution for the New Year” to our Moments of Awareness of Unconscious Bias (MAUBs), and we’ll discuss J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis. Contact: camilleparker@comcast.net. 

    Social Justice February Potluck/Meeting will be on Sunday, February 12, 6 pm. All are welcome!

    Social Justice Sponsored Project Applications

    Each year the UUCB Social Justice Council presents proposals for “Sponsored” social justice projects to the congregation for its approval at the May annual congregational meeting. A sponsored project is one that may receive congregational support in the form of resources, such as worship time, funding, etc. Congregants are always free to pursue “affiliated projects” that are publicized by the church but lack official sponsorship.

    For the second (church) year in a row, the sponsored project has been “Confronting Racism.” It has held several very successful events, plans to hold more, has put out educational materials, formed discussion groups, etc.

    To apply for sponsorship of your project, you need to gather a group of members who commit to devoting time and energy to the project, and you must complete an application for submission to the Social Justice Council. The completed application must be submitted by March 1, 2017 to maw.jane@gmail.com.

    More Opportunities to DO Social Justice

    Ceasefire Walks 7 pm Friday nights in Richmond—contact maw.jane@gmail.com.

    Volunteers Needed: to “Read Aloud” with elementary school children in Richmond and San Pablo. Contact Judy Sam at jssam47@yahoo.com

    Volunteers Needed: at GRIP to prepare and serve lunch to hungry and homeless people at the Souper Center in Richmond. Monthly, fourth Tuesday – raywest2@sbcglobal.net.

    Immigration Vigil: First Saturdays each month, West County Detention Facility, 5555 Giant Highway, Richmond; maw.jane@gmail to carpool.

    Social Justice Table: Be sure to take a look at the Social Justice Council table each Sunday for what’s new, and encourage newcomers to check it out.