Reflections in the Aftermath of the UU World Article

  • A lack of ongoing assessment around and interrogation of the kind of positionality and entitlement it takes to ignore people on the margins when they implore you not to do a thing. I know that you heard Zr. Alex Kapitan when ze said not to publish that piece; I know you heard per because you offer up in the UU World apology a suggestion of what you should have done, a suggestion that came from Kapitan that, not surprisingly, was not even attributed to per in the apology. What made anyone at the UU World (where there are NO trans people on staff, to my knowledge) believe that they knew better than the trans person who made clear the harm that would be done? That’s a real question that I need somebody to dig deep and provide an answer to.
  • A lack of investment in a Unitarian Universalism that is truly relational. Not only did a cis person do harm to trans folks everywhere (and not just UUs), but it was also clear, relative to the fact of the piece’s publication, that certain relationships are valued over others. Recognizing the numbers of trans folks who are active in religious leadership and engaged on various levels of congregational life in our UU churches, how is it that only one trans person was contacted about this article and only contacted originally to find out if there are trans artists willing to illustrate for the piece? Had UU World not wanted a trans artist to illustrate this, it would have gone to print without ANY input from a trans person. And in the midst of the harm caused, the choice to circle up to craft public apologies on the front end and write personal emails or pick up a phone on the back end hurts almost more. How can you be who you say you are and make these kinds of choices? Again, these are real questions that I need somebody to provide answers to.
  • A lack of focus here on the whole truth. Being honest means not telling lies. Being truthful means actively making known the whole truth of the matter. I believe the UU World staff did as honest an assessment of the issues and resolutions as they could, given what they have. A list of commitments, on their face, seem hopeful. But the underlying truth of them is that there are still not solid enough relationships between the publication’s staff and trans people in our movement for them not to have developed those commitments in isolation of the very community they’ve harmed. And because those relationships had not been built on the front end, how could any of us feel safe enough to engage now? I don’t want to know about your action plan until I know how you are going to repair the harm done.

Sometimes we’ll get angry and disheartened. That’s fine. But let us not build any permanent structures in the land of despair. That’s not where we live. It’s important to remember and remind each other about this.

It’s certainly not where I endeavor to live, and I am more grateful today than I have ever been of my Black Lives of UU and TRUUsT spiritual families for reminding me of this daily. But here’s the thing — those of us who are marginalized (and especially multiply marginalized) in our UU faith know full well that some structures have been built in a despairing and disparaging land, regardless of who is contributing to holding those structures up. If that’s where you are and if you’re in this with me and with us, I, at least, need to know and believe that you aren’t willing to remain there. If you have been actively building these structures or buttressing already built ones, it is time to tear them down — actively and effectively — in a way that benefits those most impacted by them.

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Black Lives UU

Black Lives UU

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Black Lives of UU is an organizing collective of Black UU's working to expand our role and visibility as Black people within our Unitarian Universalism faith.