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Understanding Racism



On June 1, the Wrestling with Our Understanding of Race group hosted an online meeting, “We Can’t Breathe” as a place to gather with members of our community, to acknowledge our many feelings about the events of this week following the murder of George Floyd, ongoing police violence, and protest and uprising around the country, as well as to continue to gain awareness and understanding of the weight of systemic racism and white supremacy.

Our Unitarian Universalist faith uplifts the reality of our interdependence. We affirm that the liberation of one is directly tied to the liberation of all. It is our religious imperative to work for a world where this reality is honored and where we all can be free. Last night, we practiced sharing with each other our highest values and deepest commitments, as they pertain to the spiritual work of racial justice. We asked each other: “Why are you committed to racial justice and anti racism?” and “Why is this work important to you, as a Unitarian Universalist?” We encourage you to think deeply about your answers and try saying them out loud, for yourself or to someone else. We all need to be clear about our “why” as we proceed to talk about “how.”

In that spirit, here are resources offered in our meeting to help you on your own journey of anti-racism work, as well as to take action now for Black Lives and for racial justice:

UUA Love Resists
26 Ways to be in the Struggle Beyond the Streets
Reclaim the Blocks: information on organizations in Minnesota that could use support in liberation work
Why Are You Committed to Racial Justice and Anti-Racism Work?

Next Wrestling with Our Understanding of Race Discussion
Sunday June 7 @ 11:30 a.m. online after worship. See weekly eBlast for Zoom link and password.


Rev. Kierstin Homblette Allen shares these thoughts from Rev. Ashley Horan, Strategy Director of the UUA and a Minneapolis resident.

To my Black family and siblings and comrades: You don’t need my words, but I will still say aloud that I am praying for you tonight. For your babies and your grandparents and your beloved dead, recent and long gone. I am casting spells of protection and love around you. I am trying to listen to your stories, your asks, your visions, your rage, and meet them all with an open heart and a willingness to act and a creative mind to move every resource and skill I can muster toward building a world that is more whole and free, right alongside you. I see you. I love you. And soon, very soon, I am praying that you have access to spaces that foster your healing and joy and connection and repair.

To my Indigenous siblings and non-Black beloveds of color: I know these are complex moments in which identity is both weaponized and invisibilized. I deeply trust that you are doing both what you need to do to tend to your tender hearts, and to show up in solidarity with our Black kindred. I see you. I love you. I am praying that you also have access to spaces that foster your healing and joy and connection and repair. I’m praying for you, too.

To my white family and siblings and comrades, specifically my white Unitarian Universalist siblings in faith: What is happening tonight is not about other people, other communities, other institutions. Framing it that way will only make us armchair quarterbacks as we turn away from the things we are responsible for doing in our own families and neighborhoods and nation. But I want to speak specifically to what we can do as people who are part of religious communities and congregations.

Here it is: let’s get serious together, starting now. Let’s not spend another minute fretting about upsetting people by using the words “white supremacy.” Let’s have genuine conversations about making reparations with our endowments and committing to never call the police, ever. Let’s develop the skills and the comfort with conflict to recognize bad behavior that springs from white supremacy culture among us, to circle around it and cut it off and shut it down without delay. Let’s get real about the resources–human, infrastructural, financial–that we have access to as individuals and as faith communities, and get to the work of redistributing them. Let’s move some serious money to Black liberation organizing. Let’s not spend another minute practicing a wishy-washy universalism that means all beliefs and behaviors are acceptable, or pretending that the call to dismantle white supremacy culture within our faith is somehow a tyrannical plot to curb freedom of conscience and belief. And let’s create spaces that foster our own healing and joy and connection and repair. I’m praying for us, too.


The events of this year have called our attention to issues of race — and understanding our relationship to those issues. Many of us are wrestling with understanding and responding to our experience, our emotions, and what we are called to do. It can be difficult, and for some of us it is destabilizing. Let us remain open in our hearts to this journey. We anticipate deep conversation within the congregation and hope for greater understanding, healing, and spiritual development.

Bring your questions and concerns and join with others in conversation. We’re studying Robin DiAngelo’s book: White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism. The study & discussion group will take the place of our monthly Wrestling with our Understanding of Race meeting.

We will be using the UU White Fragility Study Guide for our sessions.


Even-numbered years, the delegates at the UUA General Assembly choose an issue to engage in study and action for a period of three years. Often at the end of this process, a Statement of Conscience is adopted on the topic. To learn more about the congregational study process, click here.

The study/action item selected for 2018–2022 is Undoing Intersectional White Supremacy.


First Unitarian Church of Orlando (1U) has offered Beloved Conversations: Meditations on Race and Ethnicity, a program developed by Dr. Mark A. Hicks, a number of times on our campus. It provides a supportive small group opportunity for participants to engage in self-reflection and deepening understanding. All 1U members are encouraged to take part in this important program.

The program begins with a required opening retreat (Friday evening and all day Saturday). Following the opening retreat, participants are divided into small groups that meet (approximately) weekly for eight two-hour sessions.

Contact Gaby at ProgramAssistant@OrlandoUU.org to be put on the list for future opportunities.