“We build on foundations we did not lay.
We warm ourselves at fires we did not light.
We sit in the shade of trees we did not plant.
We drink from wells we did not dig.
We profit from persons we did not know.
We are ever bound in community."

Rev. Peter Raible (paraphrased from Deuteronomy 6:10-12)

Monday, November 24, 2014

What Comes Next?

My heart is full and I'm holding so many in prayer right now, as I take in the news from Ferguson.
I'm not surprised by the Grand Jury's decision, but I am heartbroken. I am angry. And I'm clearer than I've ever been about how my faith calls me (as a white man) to truly work for racial justice: to deeply understand race, racism, and whiteness, the way it works and moves in the world, and to work for justice.
I also am clear that Ferguson is not about Ferguson. Ferguson is a tipping point, a moment where the question is called, and the question is, "Will white America finally awake up? Will white America finally stand with and follow the lead and leadership of people of color? Will white America truly listen to the stories and experiences of people of color? Will good intentioned white Americans refuse to be silent any longer and reach out to their other white friends and work for change?"
Ferguson is not about Ferguson. Ferguson is about New York City, Cleveland, Sanford, Minneapolis, and countless other cities. Ferguson is about people of color being targeted and killed by police on a regular basis.
For me, as a white man, a husband, a father, and a minister, Ferguson is about the soul of our country. It is a question about which way the arc of the universe will bend. It is about whether we will deepen the racial nightmare we've been living in for the past 400 years or find a way to create a world is which all might flourish.
I go to sleep tonight with prayers reaching across time and space to all those who mourn and grieve, to all those who ache and are weary, and to all those who will rise tomorrow, grounded in righteous love and anger, working to build a new world and a new way.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

#Pointergate and How We Might Respond as Unitarian Universalists

After the past few worship services at First Universalist, many of you have asked, “What’s the call to action? We’re ready to act for racial justice in our community.”
            Today, we have an opportunity to take a small step. Several days ago, KSTP ran a story about Mayor Betsy Hodges “flashing a gang sign” with a "known felon." Of course, the story behind the story is that Betsy Hodges was out door knocking with residents from the North Side of Minneapolis, in a get out the vote effort. Additionally, the Chief of Police, Janee Harteau, was with Mayor Hodges and other North Side residents during the time this photo was taken.  Chief Harteau expressed no concern about Mayor Hodges’ behavior, because it was simply a friendly gesture with a Minneapolis citizen. (For further context: check out the article, “Dear White People: Mayor Betsy Hodges is Not in a Gang,” by Nekima Levy-Pounds.)
              Unfortunately, the story that ran played to some of the worst racial stereotypes out there: the false narrative that young black men are dangerous, are in gangs, and are unsafe.
              As Unitarian Universalists, we believe in the inherent dignity and worth of all people; we believe in welcoming, affirming, and protecting the light in each human heart; we believe that we are called to be Love’s people in this world. The kind of “reporting” that KSTP did is irresponsible, unaccountable, and deeply damaging. Spreading lies and misinformation does not help build the beloved community we dream of. We must demand better from KSTP.  You can call them 651-642-4421 to leave your feedback or Tweet them @kstp. It’s a small step, but our silence does nothing to build the community we dream of.  Our next steps are larger ones, and they are holding our city leaders and the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis accountable to a racial justice vision.