No Nonsense or Fragility about Racism and Oppression

The congregants of UUCB approved the Confronting Racism and Oppression Project to make deep dives into books, films, discussions, plays, poems, events, history and protests to identify the root causes of systemic racism, indigenous disenfranchisement, immigrant inhumanness, climate justice, oppression, religious intolerance in our United States.  As a participant you are within a loving and safe environment to talk about and come to grips with the realities that many people face. Email socialjustice@uucb.org to get information and notifications of the activities within the Confronting Racism and Oppression Project.

The current projects are:

  • The Literature, Film and Drama Contingent (LFDC) meets monthly to discuss plays, books, documentaries, films, poems, and personal reflections and awareness on racism, oppression, and freedom.
  • People of Color Caucus (POCC) meets quarterly to provide a safe space for racial and ethnic minority members to name, heal and reconcile past and current personal and group racial wounds.
  • Whites Opposed to White Supremacy (WOWS) meets the fourth Sunday of each month; and is a group at UUCB of white-identified people and people who get identified as white, that discuss race issues and the implications of being white in this society.
  • Building Community with Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church.
  • Anti-Racism Task Force meets monthly to act on racism and oppression issues of immediate concern to act on issues of immediate concern.
  • Honoring Indigenous Peoples Group meets regularly to engage in education and deep learning of Indigenous peoples’ history, acknowledging the harms, including genocide and land theft, done by settler colonialism.

Confronting Racism Workshop (History)

On June 3, 2015, UUCB’s Social Justice Council was proud to hold the Confronting Racism Workshop.  96 people attended!  Ferguson killings of African Americans had just happened and the Reverends Ben McBride and Donnell Jones facilitated interactive exercises through which participants were able to speak about their personal racial biases and systemic racism.  From attendees’ evaluations:  “Made it really – tactile – observable.” “Made me more aware of them.”  “I looked deeper.”  “I’ve had a lot of experience in education in this. It comes better from a Black reverend who knows love.” “I was already aware [of personal biases], but the workshop heightened what was there: the internalized feelings of being ‘less than’ in America.”

Evaluations also informed the organizers that the workshop was missing the Female Voice, was missing youth and more people of color, and that too much was packed into two hours (and we did run over).

The purpose of the workshop was not just to build on self-awareness of one’s own biases and systemic racism, but to energize people and set a foundation for the work the Confronting Racism Project will do in the Fall and into next year.  Forty attendees want to actively participate either in creating the next dialogs or actions, inform and invite others to participate, or lead or participate in a book group or film series.  Organizers are thrilled to have this support in moving the confronting racism agenda forward!

Confronting Racism Project Approved by Congregation

At the May 17, 2015 Congregational Meeting the Social Justice Council recommended that the congregation approve the Confronting Racism Project as a sponsored project.  The motion was unanimously approved.

Now is the time to Confront Racism.  “Black Lives Matter” has found that every 28 hours a black person is killed by a police officer, vigilante, or a security guard.  African American Deacon Reggie Lyles from Oakland has said this is like returning to the lynchings of the 1920s.

We can’t let this go on.  We have had enough.  Now is the time to act!  We can thank social media for helping us get to this point of being ready – 35 states supported the people of Ferguson.

Over the next year, the Confronting Racism Project invited our congregation to begin to understand systemic racism and implicit bias. We will engage in actions that lift up these issues. We will participate in dialog, workshops, activities and community actions. We will engage in work that will transform each of us as well as those in nearby communities as we build bridges.

It is now five years later and we are still seeing the killing of African Americans who are jogging, walking away unarmed, pumping gas, just being human. We have watched the murder of George Floyd, wept at the slaughter of Breonna Taylor in her own apartment, and so many more since Ferguson in 2014. So many of us are taking to the streets and won’t stop until the police are reformed and the killings stop.

The Confronting Racism Project, was coordinated by our beloved and fearless Nancy “Kelly” Kelly who died in 2018.  The Project has been carried on by Jane Eisenstark, and the Social Justice Council.  We have learned much and are doing the work of anti-racism.

Two other groups formed under the Confronting Racism & Oppression Project (renamed in 2019), “Whites Opposed to White Supremacy (WOWs)”, whose work involves meeting monthly and tearing through and down the biases they have grown up with.  The WOWs have committed to doing their own work and not asking People of Color to “tell” them what anti-racist work to do.  The other group formed is the “People of Color Caucus (POCC).”  Their work is to help and inform the congregation and minister choices of music, readings, quotes and homilys that are intentionally inclusive of People of Color.  This group includes African Americans, LatinX, Asian Americans, Haitian, and mixed race.  The POCC and WOWs meet quarterly to share their experiences and next steps in their anti-racism work.