Feb 12 2010

Becoming a People So Bold!

Published by at 5:34 pm under Minister's Musings

Every month our PACT (People Acting in Community Together) organizer Karen Belote and I set aside an hour to check in: What is most alive for us at that moment about our twin passions for justice and for this congregation? At our most recent one-to-one, Karen said, “You know, we’ve been working together for a few years now, yet I’ve never asked you about your passion for antiracism. I know it is really important to you, but … why? What’s the story behind this part of your call to ministry?”

            My answer to this question usually begins with stories from my growing up in Texas. Some of you have heard about how I didn’t get to go roller skating with my friend Everett –because he is African American and I am white—when we were only eight. That moment of loss pierced my heart; it made racism something personal and direct. There were other losses, too: broken bridges between Latina and European-American girls in junior high school; walls built up between family members and beloved employees. But it wasn’t just the ever-present racial prejudice and ethnocentrism that hurt, piercing peoples of color around me with a “thousand tiny [and not-so-tiny] cuts” and costing everyone our wholeness. It was also the systemic racism that was soul-killing, keeping the divisions and injustices intact from generation to generation, denying access and opportunity to some and giving unearned advantages to others, like me.

            Yet my passion for the work of understanding and undoing racism in myself and in the world—and my call to the ministry of helping to build multiracial, multicultural, antioppressive communities—are not rooted solely in the wounds of my past, nor are they driven by guilt or shame, although I have had to wrestle with these emotions too. My passion and my call now spring from fresh and ever-renewing sources. They rise up out of life-giving and joyful relationships that bridge those old forbidden boundaries and that have bloomed ever since I began to engage in the work of antiracism. These relationships make multiracial, multicultural community something personal and direct. My passion and my call are fed by ever-increasing experiences of communities that are learning how to celebrate and enhance our diversities, even while dealing with the challenges, confusions, and conflicts that arise when we invite differences to speak out loud. Communities like ours here at FUCSJ. Communities I’m honored to be part of throughout our Unitarian Universalist movement. Communities I’m coming to know here in San José. Communities available to all of us—and that we can help create.

            In short, I am committed to the work of antiracism, multiculturalism, and antioppression because it makes me more alive and more whole. It lifts me up, it turns me on, it gives me hope, it grows my soul. It’s personal and direct.

            Through worship this February, we’ll be experiencing ways to grow our souls, ways to discover more life and more hope, as we look at how we can dismantle divisions and celebrate diversities—both inside our own being and out in the wider world. How are we becoming a “People So Bold”?[1] I can’t wait to dive deeper into our learning and growing together!

With gratitude for your calling me

to be all that I am

and to bring to this work all that I have,

 

Nancy

           



[1] This phrase is drawn from a new book, titled A People So Bold: Theology and Ministry for Unitarian Universalists, ed. John Gibb Millspaugh (Boston: Skinner House, 2010).

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