• Social Justice News, May 2017

    Social Justice Council April 12th Potluck/Meeting: Two Social Justice Sponsored Project Applications will go before the May Congregational meeting for a vote. (1) Resisting Oppression – Project Leader (Nancy) “Kelly.” The objective is “Standing with marginalized local communities targeted due to race, ethnicity, religion, poverty, class, sexual orientation or gender identity.” $1,500 requested. As the issue of Unjust Deportations of Immigrants: Sanctuary as Love of Neighbor is aligned with the Resisting Oppression Project, they will be submitted as one Project. Elisabeth Jay will lead the part specific to immigrants. Amount requested $2,000 (“flexible”). There are three opportunities to “do” sanctuary in addition to physically housing: accompaniment, advocacy and participation in Rapid Response. (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. Amount suggested $1,000.

    UUA Practices & May 7th Service & White Supremacy Teach In – Lonnie Moseley, Rev. Christian Schmidt and Helen Tinsley-Jones: Lonnie expressed confidence in the UUCB community and our ministers in particular for taking UUCB’s inclusiveness and confronting racism to even more meaningful levels. Rev. Christian and Helen explained the recent controversy at UUA that led to the resignation of President Rev. Peter Morales, including long-term lack of diversity on the UUA governing board, failure to use a recent hiring opportunity to begin to remedy that issue, and subsequent insensitive speech in the President’s memo in response to challenges. Revs. Christian and Kristin are organizing at UUCB to implement the Black Lives UU challenge to conduct anti-racism teach-ins around these issues on May 7th and asked the SJC for support. At the UUA, until a permanent president is selected, there are three co-presidents, all persons of color. Helen, through her personal story, conveyed the accepting and supportive nature of the UUCB congregation for herself as a person of color. In addition, she called on the SJC to support programs that would solicit and support the voices of UUCB congregants of color and create structures for deep conversations among congregants of color as well as within the church as a whole.

    Dine and Dialogue with our Muslim Neighbors, May 20.  Dinner will be prepared by Muslims for Peace, assisted by UUCBers. The purpose of this dinner is to bring UUCBers together with our Muslim neighbors from the Masjid Al-Raham in Richmond, cook side-by-side; sit down and dine and dialogue side-by-side; and pray side-by-side. Through this process, we will learn from our Muslim neighbors about their religion, culture and beliefs, and we will share ours. Hopefully, bridges will be built and there will be on-going interactions between the two communities. This event is sponsored by the UUCB World Peace Committee and the Social Justice Council. There will be a collection to benefit GRIP Souper Center. RSVP by May 12th here. For further info or to sign up to volunteer, contact Beth Jerde at uucbmuslims@gmail.com.

    LFDC (Literature, Film and Drama Contingent of the Confronting Racism Project) enjoyed a delightful afternoon April 2nd with actor/director Darold Ross-Holloway, who helped us understand the playwright August Wilson and his work, with a focus on Fences. Ross-Holloway showed off his acting chops as well, ending his time with us as his favorite character, Gabriel, in the play’s final scene. LFDC will not meet on May 7; instead, following the special service, we yield the Fireside Room for continued conversation. On June 4 we will discuss White Trash: The 400 Year Untold History of Class in America, by Nancy Eisenberg. You can read a transcript or listen to a discussion on NPR with the author here. All are welcome even if you didn’t read the book! Contact – camilleparker@comcast.net

  • 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