A new UU group

I’m getting a strong, not-good (more about the purpose than the intentions) vibe from the new UU White Allies group. I may write about it later, but has anyone else sensed something from them?

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.

17 comments

  1. Maybe this is one of those cultural things, but as an Australian I cannot conceive of an organisation calling itself “XXXX White Allies” without being a nasty racist neo-Nazi group.

    It is very strange to me that a group with an anti-racist objective would call themselves that!

    Are these people closet racists, or am I missing something?

    Can non-white people join this group?

  2. Thanks for the corrected link Jeff — I’ve had unexpected, weird technical problems with this post. (I don’t like the new WordPress WYSIWYG interface.)

    Rusty — the group is quite plainly the auxillary of the “people of color”/”anti-racist, anti-oppression” group. While I had the same gut jerk about the name, and find the anti-racism/anti-oppression crowd problematic (more about that later) I would not worry about them being closet racists.

  3. In that case they *really* need a better name…

    I still find the idea of a group of white people getting together to proclaim that “We are white people who like ‘people of colour'” pretty weird from an Oz perspective. It seems to be inherently self-contradictory?

    It also reminds me of the wonderful http://blackpeopleloveus.com/ site :)

  4. when I first heard of the name of this group, I thought it was some sort of joke – like Unitarian Jihad.
    Surely nobody seriously would use the name “White Allies” or “White Allies of People of Color”, would they?

    ………
    Its so mindboggling that someone would pick that name…..
    ……
    My brain just keeps recycling tons of jokes from the late 1960s….

  5. My understanding is that the “allies” name simply evolved from the history of the group. Concurrent to meetings of DRUUMM (www.druumm.org), self-identified white people who were allies to DRUUMM’s mission would gather to talk about helping our Unitarian Universalist movement live out its commitment to become anti-racist and multi-cultural. Now the group is formalizing and the “allies” name has stuck with it for the meantime. Allies simply means allies of DRUUMM and other people (of all colors) who are working for anti-racist change in the UUA and beyond.

    As Chalicechick points out, the group is in the process of coming up with a new name.

    I’d encourage folks to learn more about the organization before judging it. I know it’s fun to get all indignant over something and write about it online but I think it better serves the UU principles we all share if people take time to know what they are writing about.

  6. I don’t understand the reactions I have read. Closet racists? Have you read the bylaws, mission statements? The group is only closet racist as all white people are closet racists. Institutionalized racism is what the white allies group is trying to fight. Check out Whitewashing Race:The Myth of a Colorblind society.

  7. i consider myself a white ally, but i generally say “white anti-racist ally” to avoid the understandably iffy response.
    i think also people tend to think of anyone/group who calls themself white right off the bat as white supremacist, since many white people aren’t used to thinking of themselves as any race but “human”

  8. Bert, from an Australian perspective I truly cannot conceive of a group of ‘self-identified white people’ (even this phrase sounds weird) that wasn’t a racist group, no matter what the bylaws and mission statements on their website said. I have never come across an anti-racist group for white people in Australia – anti-racists groups here are open to people of all races, though some are focused on ending specific types of discrimination – for example, discrimination against Australians of Chinese background.

    It is obviously different in the US, and so I’m prepared to believe that this group are indeed fighting for racial equality.

  9. I dont think anyone was judging the group just the name

    and if you dont understand why the name is really appalling, go out in the community and ask strangers what they think of that name. If you find anyone who isnt either offended, or laughs themself silly, i will be surprised

  10. I’ve been thinking about this beyond the name question. I get a whiff of liberal white guilt from the group. Anyone else sense it? While opposing racism is admirable, I’ve rarely found liberal white guilt to be very constructive. More often it becomes about emotional relief.

    I also find myself increasingly skeptical of the new UU “doctrine” of anti-oppression (now a point candidates for ministeral fellowship are questioned about). Perhaps I’m overly cyncial, but human nature being what it is, I doubt we can create a completely anti-oppressive society. We are all oppressing somebody, somehow. God only knows how the food I had for breakfast, or the gasoline in my Hyundai (or even my Hyundai itself), or the clothes on my body are connected to the oppression of somebody somewhere in the world. And while I can address these things in turn as I learn about them, I don’t think I would ever be able to become perfectly sinless regarding the oppression of others. So why flog myself over it?

    Forgive us our tresspasses, as we forgive those who tresspass against us.

  11. This is not the only anti-racist group using “white” in its name. White Anti-racist Community Action Network at http://www.wacan.org which is sponsored by the Center for the Study of White American Culture, Inc. Non-whites are allowed in this forum, but there is a white-only & a POC-only section. We’re all just trying to learn together how to respond to racism and try to make this world less racist and more friendly to people of color. It’s hard to talk about racism without using the words that created it in the first place and continue to identify it.

  12. One reason I am a UU is because UUs do not have dogma and yet they do covenant to promote such principles as: “The inherent worth and dignity of EVERY person; Justice, equity and compassion in human relations; The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all.”
    Quotes from “A Chosen Faith” by John Buehrens & Forrest Church:
    “Dialogue depends on trust that the other person is also caring, is secure enough in his or her view to allow for differences, and is open to learning new dimensions of his or her orientation that may be evoked in dialogue… The secret to dialogue… we pass over into an appreciative attempt to understand the experience and insight of another person or tradition… when we return to ourselves, we are no longer precisely the same person we were before… we are in some way transformed and enlarged.”

    It seems to me that we need to read more, listen more, think more and allow good dialogue to help us “grow spiritually… and “be transformed in the direction of a larger wholeness”… by whatever name we call the process. Leave out all color and merely refer to it as “Mutual Allies.”

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