Calling UUs Preparing to Reopen
Calling UUs Preparing to Reopen. This post is for my fellow UUs as they prepare to reopen. Please don’t forget to include BIPOC UUs in your preparations. This is essential if you are going to “keep it 100” and jumpstart your allyship.
I’m calling you to be intentional and invite a representative number of BIPOCs into your deliberations and ask for their perspectives. If your congregation is like mine, you already have BIPOCs on your staff. Indeed, you must have BIPOC members whom you can consult about your reopening protocols.
If I were you, I’d ask those BIPOC staff and members for their viewpoints on what needs to happen for them to feel welcomed when you resume in-person worship and church activities. They will have points of view that may differ from the white staff and membership. What a gift this is for you!
Less than 100 responses
You may respond, “The BIPOCs in my congregation are not on staff, and we only have a handful that attend services. I don’t believe they are interested in this.” Some might respond, “We’ve already figured it out and have a game plan. It is not possible to change the plan. I hope not. Others may say, “We don’t have any BIPOCs on staff nor the membership.” This is totally not aligned with the UU vision for beloved community or our UU Principles and values.
The reopening of UU spaces during the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic is the perfect time to reset your priorities and make sure you are keeping it 100 with your BIPOC constituency. In fact, the pandemic has given us all an extended period to rethink and strategize how we welcome all people. Eighteen months is a true gift of time.
But given the report, Widening the Circle of Concern, UU clergy and church staffs have had sufficient time and data to support making how we welcome BIPOCs a special priority. I’m assuming UU clergy have ALL read the report by now. That is, unless you are a Gadfly.
If you haven’t read the report, it’s time. I’ll go further. You’re out of covenant with UUA leadership, colleagues, and congregations if you haven’t read it.
UU Church of Las Cruces is keeping it 100!
Here at UU Church of Las Cruces, the board is reading and studying the report. All members have access to the full report.
If that is your situation, please read the Commission on Appraisal’s most recent report on covenant. It is titled Unlocking the Power of Covenant. Most likely, it sits on your office desk, awaiting you to retrieve it. Get ‘er done!
Now, back to the reopening. Undoubtedly, safety is your highest priority. You’ve got to get the best minds affixed on reopening safely. No doubt, you must exercise due diligence not to encourage viral spread. That, too, deserves BIPOC input.
Again, now is the time to sharpen your skills on keeping it 100.
Definition of “Keeping it 100!”
In case you do NOT know what I mean by “keeping it 100,” here is an excerpt from my blockbuster book, The Black UU Survival Guide:
“Keeping it 100” is another way of saying keeping it real or “honoring your own experiences and feelings. Keeping it 100 invites you to be honest by prioritizing your truth. Each of us needs to separate our own truth from our parents, spouses/partners, friends, communities, and culture. As related to being an ally, it means choosing to act in alignment with your express desires.
For example, if you believe there needs to be more equity and inclusion among White and BIPOC UUs, you’ll need to act in ways that make such equity and inclusion a reality. Your new way of being may include sacrifices you hadn’t previously considered. You may need to give up some of your privilege, preferences, and power so that BIPOC UU can exert more of their own, instead. Be prepared to abandon, or revise, the “truths” you learned about earlier in life about BIPOCs that led to contemporary disparities in UU culture.
It also means taking responsibility for your lack of understanding about race, racism, and the lives of BIPOCs. Be open and curious about how you developed the perspectives you have. What experiences do you draw upon when forming your views and ways of relating to and understanding BIPOCS.
For those who are already back to in-person worship and community gathering, keep it 100!
For those getting ready, keep it 100!
For those who are already keeping it 100, right on, Ashe, and blessed be.
 The Black UU Survival Guide: How to Survive as a Black Unitarian Universalist and How Allies Can Keep it 100, 2021, 12.