March 4. I made some much needed edits.
I’d first like to go on the record for not caring one way or the other about the (provisional) name of the new UU White Allies group. I first made a connection with the Gay-Straight Alliances, and in any case they don’t seem to be so keen with the name anyway.
Someone I admire said that one should understand those you oppose well enough that they can recognize themselves in your description. That’s fair and wise. Since the White Allies phenomenon — apart from the name — lends me to opposition, I’ll give them the first benefit of the doubt.
This is a far-from-exhaustive list of what I see claimed, in no order:
- Racism is a/the core crisis of the United States: a denial of our expressed values and the ruin of millions of lives.
- Opposition to racism also is an expressed values for Unitarian Universalists, even though most of us benefit from it.
- It is unfair to expect those who live under racist oppression to do all the heavy lifting to overcome it.
- This action is a function of a faith commitment and is a valid religious expression, not simply a side-interest.
- This commitment to fairness leads to difficult and necessary decision that will discomfort many Unitarian Universalists.
On the other hand, I think there is a feeling by earnest people who don’t feel like they can express their concerns without being bullied, branded a racist, and disregarded. Let me be plain: a White Allies organization could easily stifle dissent, and if it happens I’ll call it out here.
Again, an inexhaustive list of my concerns.
- The accepted theory about white racism itself seems one-sided, and attempts to question it are branded a product of the same racism.
- There doesn’t seem to be a place for white people to make a comment about racism without deference to non-whites, which is an deference to authority that Unitarian Universalists wouldn’t accept in any other venue.
- That there is no solution to this ontological racism crisis for whites; there is, at best, mitigation for sin based on identification with anti-racist efforts. I catch a strong whiff of opaque, hierarchical Gnosticism — again, a kind of personal subordination that Unitarian Universalists would not accept otherwise.
- Anti-racism efforts loom large “at 25” (as seen in the UUA communications) but there isn’t much evidence that the grassroots have caught on to it.
- At the same time, anti-racism has taken on the defacto role of “core” (again, based on how the UUA administration communicates) among those who make day-to-day UUA program decisions. This theoretical base is more in evidence than the programs themselves. (Making the tail wag the dog.)
- All said, I’m not going to loose sleep since I’m also catching a hint of an energy that feeds on itself. In particular, a “true believer’s” emotional dependence that starts with zeal and ends with mania. (Seen before the recent White Allies effort, but among the same constituency.) After this article, I don’t plan to feed it any more.