Call to Action — BLUU urges Unitarian Universalist congregations to provide meeting & healing space for Black organizers

from the Black Lives of UU Organizing Collective

In the wake the murder of Alton Sterling — yet another unarmed Black man — in Baton Rouge, many Black activists, organizers, and community members need places to be in community with each other. Many organizers are seeking spaces to hold and support each other, especially after media outlets have replayed the video over and over again, causing more trauma.

As the BLUU Organizing Collective, we know that many Unitarian Universalist congregations may be wondering how they can support in times like this. Consider this statement a call to action for UU churches across the continent to open up your doors to Black community organizers free of charge to offer an explicitly Black space.

If your heart is aching and you don’t know what to do, this is one meaningful way you can support Black organizers.

CLICK HERE to make your congregational space available for Black organizers to connect free of charge in this time of need.

NOTE: Because most ministers are on vacation this month it is CRITICAL that Lay Leaders take point on this call to action now rather than wait for ministerial approval. This pain is happening now. This need is here now. Now is when we as a faith must step up.

While this is a great resource provider opportunity for UU congregations, it is NOT an engagement opportunity. Those in need of space to meet are not looking to engage directly with UU congregations around Alton Sterling, police brutality or the Black Lives Matter movement at this difficult time. We are hoping our faith can provide a safe haven for Black people in their communities to come together to heal & build.

We have created some general best practices for this engagement below:

— Have someone onsite during the gathering to answer questions and troubleshoot, but not to observe.

— If you are white, resist the temptation to have it as an internal or external promotional opportunity. That would be centering the needs of white people for validation over the needs of black people for community

— If you are white, resist the temptation to interrogate, explain, equivocate, etc. That would also be centering the needs of white people rather than the needs of black people.

— Offer to have some refreshments available, or at least water.

— Have someone follow up with your primary contact with the organizers a day or two later to see if there’s anything else that would be helpful.

— Listen carefully to their requests, and do as much as you can to fulfill them.

— If there’s any change in plans or anything that needs addressing, keep the people who need to know informed as far in advance as possible.

— Be prepared to answer questions about Unitarian Universalism and the ongoing involvement of Unitarian Universalists in justice causes, or, if you cannot answer such questions, make a note of them and let us know so that we can help you respond later.

— Make it clear how the space needs to be left when they are done, and spell out any support needed in advance.

— Send an email to the organizer contact with all the essential details and expectations before, during and after the gathering.

— If the connection goes well, be open to additional gatherings and events with the organizers in your building.

— If the group offers to compensate somehow, generously accept it, not as a payment but as a sign of mutual support and appreciation. If so inclined donate the funds to a Black led local organization.