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Unitarian Universalist (UU) congregations promote Seven Principles. Many Americans live by one or more of these principles but may not be aware of them. They are compatible with many faith traditions and the morals of many Americans.

1.     The inherent worth and dignity of every person.

2.     Justice, equity and compassion in human relations.

3.     Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations.

4.     A free and responsible search for truth and meaning.

5.     The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large.

6.     The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all.

7.     Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

The UUs are considering an Eighth Principle: dismantle racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions. This is what I’m writing about today.

Twenty enslaved Africans were brought ashore in the British colony of JamestownVirginia in 1619. Slavery began in what would become the United States. Our constitution implicitly acknowledged slavery (Three-Fifths Compromise). Arguably, the Civil War was fought over slavery. Lincoln formally ended slavery in 1863. Blacks continued to be treated unfairly. Free Black people were surrounded by many hostile whites and many atrocities were committed in the 1800s and 1900s. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Yet, many white people still don’t treat Blacks as equals.

For four hundred years white people in this country were indoctrinated with white privilege, white supremacy, and racism. These are invisible if you don’t understand it. However, many whites will acknowledge that racism still exists in our country. It will take a long time to unlearn what has unknowingly been instilled in us.

Recently I heard Rev. Sunshine Wolfe, a UU minister in Ohio, talk about the proposed Eighth Principle. They proposed an image of a target.

Eighth Principle target

The yellow center would be Blacks. The red ring represents white allies, supporting Blacks and, perhaps, able to understand the injustices perpetrated, and have conversations with Blacks.

The blue circle would be well-meaning white people who aren’t aware of their white privilege, have no concept of what’s happening to Blacks, and don’t know how to engage in a conversation with Blacks. The black ring represents those who don’t know and don’t care. I extrapolate that the white ring represents the people who are overtly racist. Where are you?

We, specifically white people, need to learn how to dismantle racism. How? Make an effort to talk to Blacks. Join the NAACP. Read books:

  • “How to be an Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi
  • “White Fragility: Why it’s so Hard for White People to Talk about Racism” by Robin Diangelo
  • “So You Want to Talk about Race” by Ijeoma Oluo
  • “The ABCs of Diversity: Helping Kids (and Ourselves!) Embrace Our Differences” by Carolyn B. Helsel & Y. Joy Harris-Smith

Watch these Netflix films:

In Tuesday’s Des Moines Register, guest columnist Walter Suza wrote, “Racism can be ended only by a change of heart.” Please read it. We still have a long way to go to meet Dr. King’s dream,

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed — we hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

In the film “I Am Not Your Negro”, James Baldwin says, “The story of the Negro in America is the story of America. It is not a pretty story…You cannot lynch me and keep me in the ghettos without becoming something monstrous yourself… Nothing can be changed until it is faced. We carry our history with us.”

I hope you will be allies to Blacks. When you witness oppression, say “This isn’t okay!” I will work to help ratify the 8th Principle in UU churches and live by the spirit of being anti-racist. Even if you’re not a UU, I hope you will work diligently to help dismantle racism.

[I intentionally capitalized Black but not white. Refer to “The Case for Capitalizing the B in Black”, by Kwame Anthony Appiah in The Atlantic; June 18, 2020.]

RON HEIDEMAN / Indianola

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(5) comments

TruthSeeker

Hello Mr. Heidiman,

Thank you for your work and efforts in your article and dialogue. I just have a few questions for you.

How can you over generalize people’s behaviors without being a racist yourself?

How do you explain the crimes of “blacks against blacks” in Chicago today?

How do you explain this statistic? 72 percent of children in the African-American communities are born out of wedlock.

How can these out of wedlock children be the building blocks of a loving and understanding community that we can gain from a traditional biological family?

How do you bring us together and solve problems by blaming one group for another group's problems?

How do you explain slavery, poverty, crime and civil war in Africa today?

Thank you! I'm looking forward to your explanations!

Michael R May

Mr. Heideman, thank you for your timely and thoughtful essay on an issue of enduring importance for our great nation. There is much in your essay and cited sources to study for our common good.

One point I wish to affirm immediately.

You rightly keep your eye on the prize. The prize is that we need to stay on the journey to live out the true meaning of freedom and equality that our nation holds as an ideal. America is not great because we are perfect. America is great – and exceptional among the nations of the world --- in recognizing our flaws and working to heal them. The centuries long march of freedom to a more inclusive “We” in “We the People” is a testament to struggling toward living our ideals. One of our national hymns, “America the Beautiful”, teaches that we need to grow spiritually and ask that “God mend thine every flaw.”

Well penned, Mr. Heideman, well penned.

Steve Rose

Thanks, Ron. a great graphic.

TruthSeeker

https://www.history.com/topics/reconstruction/ku-klux-klan

Please review your history for facts. Please learn from history. Please don't be mislead by Mr. Heideman.

Bohlken1

While seeking to "dismantle racism", you cite authors, particularly Kendi, who are eager to violate Unitarian Universalist principles 1 through 6 while sponsoring a virulently racist philosophy known as critical race theory.

"Principle 1 The inherent worth and dignity of every person." Critical race theory rejects the proposition that people are to be viewed as individuals. Just as classical Marxism posits that people must be viewed primarily as members of oppressor and oppressed economic classes, Marxist Critical Race Theory posits that people must be viewed primarily as members of oppressor and oppressed races. Based solely on skin color, it is clear that the "oppressor" races do not have the inherent worth and dignity of those they supposedly oppress. In Swain and Schorr's "Black Eye for America: How Critical Race Theory Is Burning Down the House," numerous examples of discriminatory CRT training are cited, including white employees being told, "their racial identity is 'toxicity in the air'."

"Principle 2 Justice, Equity and Compassion in Human Relations." Critical race theory takes a unique view of "Equity" which has no compassion or justice. Instead of equality under the law. Kendi posits, without evidence, that "When I see disparities, I see racism." Such inequities require intense discrimination against the "oppressor" white race.

Kendi proudly proclaims his discriminatory and racist "antiracist" policy: "The only remedy to racist discrimination is antiracist discrimination. The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination." This statement shows contempt for the principle of equality under the law, without which there can be no justice.

"Principle 3 Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth ...." Traditional Christians, who believe that Jesus Christ is true God and true man who died on the cross to save them from their sins, are rejected by CRT. According to Kendi, such "savior theology" "breeds bigotry." Capitalists also cannot be accepted, because, according to Kendi, "In order to be truly antiracist, you also have to be truly anti-capitalist."

"Principle 4 A free and responsible search for truth and meaning." Part of such a search includes science, math, reason and objectivity which CRT rejects as "white ways of knowing". The Black way of knowing, according to CRT, includes storytelling. Unfortunately, without reference to the absurdly titled "white ways of knowing", one may have a hard time determining that white supremacy, control of the American government by alien lizards, and CRT itself are all false narratives.

"Principle 5 The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process . . . within society at large." Kendi's proposals would violate both these principles. They include, according to Christopher Rufo's article on "Critical Race Theory: What It Is and How to Fight It", the creation of a Federal Department of Antiracism, unaccountable to any elected official, which could nullify any rule, ordinance, or law at any level and censor the speech of political leaders.

"Principle 6 The goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all". Do you really think this goal can be achieved by forcing first graders to deconstruct their social and racial identies and ranking themselves on a scale of power and privilege or forcing fifth graders to participate in a simulated Black communism rally to free Angela Davis, a radical once accused of murder? Shaming children, or for that matter, adults based on their race cannot have a peaceful or just result.

In addition to the above sources, I would recommend Kathleen Brush's book "Racism and Antiracism in the World: Before and After 1945."

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