Open the Window: Reaction Not Helpful

I’ve spent a lot of time over the last 3-4 weeks asking myself two questions that I received from the Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism:

A. How does living in a white centered world affect your humanity?

B. What works about the white supremacy system that is in place for you?  

Here’s what I am coming to see about myself.

On the issue of race and racial equity, I am quick to react.  My reactivity, I am learning, is a cover for defensiveness, and I am defensive because there is still far too much that I don’t understand, that I don’t know about how People of Color experience themselves in all of the contexts we live in.  

When Cristina Rivera went public with the hiring practices in the UUA, particularly over a high ranking position for the Southern Region, my first reaction was in writing on Facebook.  I wrote:  “I support racial equity in all areas of our life, and I will continue to work for it, but I will not use the term white supremacy.  It has a history that’s too inflammatory.”  Some of you, I know, have felt the same way, reacted the same way.  

No one was or is calling me or you or this church or this religion white supremacists.  What many are saying, and I now join them–that our religion is built upon a white supremacy system, and that system runs quite well all by itself without a single white supremacist in the room to make it happen.  It is a system.  It was put into place centuries ago. It not only runs our religion and our church, but it runs our schools, our police departments our communities, our county government, our State and our country.  The white supremacy system is set up to favor white people at every turn. If we refuse to acknowledge that the system is in place, we assure that it will continue to run things.

In order for me to recognize this system and how it runs us–I have had to slow down, be quiet and take note.  Reactivity has not served to open the window of my mind and heart. Reaction and defensiveness help keep that window sealed shut.

Bob Patrick

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