This was written for parents in the congregation where I currently serve. It’s written from my perspective as a white person who grew up in Northwest Arkansas. This was also written before election day, which feels important to note.
I don’t remember the first time I realized that people of color were not treated the same way as whites in our society. I knew at an early age the prejudice in my own family and knew that the prejudiced comments were at odds with the teachings I was hearing in church about how to treat others. No one ever talked with me about race or racism as a child. Instead, white people are taught not to talk about race. It is part of the implicit teachings in our socialization. In my twenties I began to understand that for people of color, race was a near daily conversation. African-American parents teach their children overtly, from necessity, that they will be judged and may even be in danger because of their skin color.
We are at a unique moment in our country’s history; the mass reporting of violent crimes against people of color, largely African-Americans. Our Unitarian Universalist faith has a legacy connected to the response we had during the civil rights movement of the 60’s, particularly our call to join Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the march in Selma. Today, the civil rights movement continues and we must decide how we will respond.
Dismantling racism is a religious issue. The systemic intuitions which favor white people is at odds with the Unitarian Universalist teachings about inherent worth, loving thy neighbor as thyself, and justice and equity for all. We are being called. How will we respond?
For those in our community who are white, there is a lot of work to do around educating ourselves and being willing to sit with discomfort. We need to learn to talk about race and racism with our children and youth in a way that lifts up the ways our faith calls us to heed the actions and words of prophetic women and men who guide us to creating a more just society for all.
Below you will find some internet articles and resources for learning more about these issues. I hope these resources help you in navigating conversations at home.
5 Tips for Talking about Racism with Kids by Sasha Emmons
Race Forward series of short videos by Jay Smooth
Raising Race Conscious Children from raceconscious.org
Watch Out! Classic Movies with Offensive Racial Stereotypes from Huffington Post
18 Books Every White Ally Should Read by Crystal Paul