The GA bruhaha

I was going to stay out of the mess that’s brewing up out of alleged racism at General Assembly, but underinformative accusations, followed by the still-vague details in the the consolation letter from the UUA Secretary, matched by ChaliceChick’s biting response will continue to bother me until I say something.

It boils dow to this: whether or not the allegations are true (and there seems to be an assumption they are) why are the institutional Youth of the UUA given so much sway?

The set answer is that “they’re our future.” I rather doubt that sensitive hothouse orchids will make the transition to brave leadership, or even effective leadership. Who will hear their complaints then? (And anyone who has worked customer service knows that this isn’t a universal phase people grow through.)

Plus, given the well-established revolving door, it seems more likely that the current youth leadership will both leave (oh, the terror!) and be replaced by others, so that the vast majority of future Unitarian Universalists — paraphrasing the beginning of Exodus — will not know YRUU.

By Scott Wells

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


  1. all i can tell from the comminque is that some youths were told to behave themselves; and that some folks hanging around hotel front doors were assumed to be hotel employees.

    … Im not sure what is worse: not being told the rest of the story or if that was the rest of the story.

    Whatever: whoever wrote the cominque needs to do a better job on writing public relation materials. (that is assuming there is more than what is being related).

  2. Dave and all: understand my hard feelings aren’t so much directed towards the youth as towards the adults who empower a cycle of victimization, which in the wake of real suffering isn’t even worth this discussion.

    Except to say that it seems to be a feature of human nature to resent and then hate those who profit (unjustly, perhaps profit at all) from their own suffering. Just as true is that people will give selflessly in the visible face of the need of suffering. This makes victimhood an uncharted territory filled with dangers, and human need a question of photographs and face time. In a successful modern genocide (we’ve seen) you start by killing the journalists.

    Back to this matter: I think the wiser thing for adults to do for the aggrieved youth (plural) would be to say, “I’m sorry but life sucks and you need to know there are costs to defending yourself. If you can do that, we’ll back you in the best way we can.” Vague, one-sided public letters suggest weakness, entitlement, and a want of seriousness. And non-Youth adults get a steady stream of it from the Youth.

    I think Peter’s been set up to be Wolf Chow, and I think if you asked the other commenters you’d have a hard time finding those who’d care.

  3. the problem that those of us who werent there is this: the release – (which Steve Caldwell repeated), gives no indication of what happened or if it indeed was an incident of racism – or kids of any race acting out, and adults responding to it.
    The rumor mill is wonderful, and so far that is what we got; that and a poorly worded release. (and what about the police? where do they fit it? was anyone actually arrested? or just dispersed?).
    Should adults act more responsible and mature tha kids?
    Of course – and neither imature adults or kids should be at the GA.

    steven r (who has been known to teach social skills for a living)

  4. It’s all very baffling and troubling. For instance, if someone is “unwelcoming” of an unkempt, loud, obnoxious person, is it because he’s “of color” or because he/she’s unkempt, loud and obnoxious? We’ll never know.
    But we do know (or at least I do) that our UU youth are definitely widely enamored of the culture of victimization. Just spend some time on FUUSE. It’s all there. Our kids — following the broad example of UU adults — have been led to believe that affirming the “inherent worth and dignity of all people” means that THEIR views are inherently sacred, THEIR specific beliefs not to be challenged or countered, and that everything about THEIR individual selves is precious, unique and unquestionably acceptable. Hence, I have to appreciate Scott’s hothouse orchids analogy.

    I do not doubt, with no small sorrow and disgust, that there were ugly racist incidents at GA in Fort Worth. I do doubt, however, that a minister should be expected not to lose his cool under any circumstances, or that thorough omni-racial obnoxiousness did not abound in many of the ugly episodes.

    Why did we give up sin and shame again?

  5. I should have said, “MANY OF OUR KIDS” instead of “OUR KIDS.” Of course. Mea culpa.
    SOME of our kids are getting right wise to the whole problem and realize that affirming the inherent worth and dignity of all peoples isn’t so much about “my” preciousness but about radical hospitality to “the other.”

    This doesn’t shed any light on the allegations of racism but bla bla bla anyway.

  6. it is my understanding that the incident happened outside the hall because youth were on their way into the ceremony when they were stopped for not having nametags. which would be fine if, for example, i had been stopped from going into the same ceremony for not having my nametag on (since i didn’t) but i’m white and 25 and all i got when i went into the hall was an order of service.

    and i’m not sure what the sway the “institutional youth of the UUA” means, but i’ll guess is has to do with the cancelling of the YOUTH sponsored dance. and the youth (and adults who were there in support, including myself) who cancelled it were white volunteer GA youth caucus staff, not youth office staff. it was a hard decision for the youth, but consensus was reached, we did not want to be a bunch of white people partying it up while all of their friends of color were spilling their guts about the crappy thing that had happened to them over the course of GA. that would be adding insult to injury.

    also, Peacebang, it is my understanding that the minister in question was a woman, and it’s pretty irrelevant because no one should assume that minister = man

  7. Clairebearkiss gets the last word on this. This is being done to death at FUUSE, so if you have more to say, say it there.

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