The 7 Principles of Black Lives
from the Organizing Collective of Black Lives of UU
The Movement for Black Lives Convening, held in Cleveland, OH July 24–26, brought together over 1,500 Black people from across the country to build, heal, learn & organize.
It was a truly historic gathering. We the Unitarian Universalist Caucus took time that weekend to discuss the various issues we face in our faith as Black people. While many challenges and personal experiences were shared, one thing stood out for us all: Our Unitarian Universalist faith is what CALLS US to say that Black Lives Matter.
We see a direct link between the 7 UU Principles and the Movement for Black Lives. We — those of us at the Movement for Black Lives Convening, along with other Black UUs — created this document to present to our faith the 7 Principles of Black Lives.
Our hope is that this direct connection between our faith & the fight for Black liberation will make clear the URGENT need for all those who call themselves Unitarian Universalists to declare, without caveat or clarification, that Black Lives Matter.
During the week of 9/14/15 we released one Principle of Black Lives per day outlining the important principles that guide us in the work towards Black liberation, how these principles connect with the 7 UU Principles and how we were able to live out these principles at the Movement for Black Lives Convening.
Principle #1 : All Black Lives Matter.
Queer Black lives, Trans Black lives, formerly incarcerated Black lives, differently-abled Black lives, Black women’s lives, immigrant black lives, Black elderly and children’s lives. ALL BLACK LIVES MATTER and are creators of this space. We throw no one under the bus. We rise together.
The Movement for Black Lives calls on the Unitarian Universalist faith — a faith willing to make the bold proclamation that each person inherently matters — to live up to that claim by working toward a future in which black lives are truly valued in our society. We call on UUs to actively resist notions that black lives only matter if conformed to white, middle-class norms, and to challenge assumptions of worth centered around clothing, diction, education, or other status. Our value is not conditional.
Principle #2 : Love / Self-Love is practiced in every element of all we do.
Love and Self-Love must be drivers of all our work and indicators of our success. Without this principle and without healing, we will harm each other and undermine our movement.
The Movement for Black Lives seeks to build a society where black people thrive instead of survive. We seek justice for those we have lost to police violence, we seek equity in housing, education and healthcare, we seek compassion from our fellow UU’s for the struggle we are called to be a part of.
Principle #3: Spiritual growth is directly tied to our ability to embrace our whole selves.
A principled struggle must exist in a positive environment. We must be honest with one another by embracing direct, loving communication & acknowledgment of all that we are and all that we hope to be.
The spiritual growth of UU’s of Color is directly tied to our ability to stand in the truth that black lives matter, that our lives matter, both in the wider world and just as importantly in our UU congregations. We call on our UU congregations and the UUA to support our work towards wholeness as black people. We must be honest with one another by embracing direct, loving communication.
Principle #4: Experimentation and innovation must be built into our work.
Embrace the best tools, practices, and tactics, and leave behind those that no longer serve us. Evaluation and assessment must be built into our work. Critical reflection must be part of all our work. We learn from our mistakes and our victories.
The Movement for Black Lives works daily to expose the truth about Black life in this country and in the world. To uncover the layer of Supremacy that exists in this society. To bring to light to the Anti-Blackness that is present in our everyday lives. We call on all UU’s to root out the Anti-Blackness that exists within our congregations and our faith.
Principle #5: Most Directly Affected people are experts at their own lives.
Those most directly affected by racial injustice & oppression should be in leadership, at the center of our movement, and telling their stories directly
We stand in the Movement for Black Lives at a time in which voting rights are being threatened at every turn. Black people are being denied the most basic of rights — the right to vote and have adequate representation in our country. We work towards a society in which Black Life is valued, in which Black Life is not discarded, in which Black Life Matters, and in which the work of Black people is seen as equal to their white counterparts. Black voices in our congregations, in our faith, and in the world must be valued.
Principle #6: Thriving instead of Surviving
Our vision is based on the word we want, and not the world we are currently in. We seek to transform, not simply to react. We want our people to thrive, not just exist — and to think beyond the possible.
Any work towards peace, liberty and justice must address address racial injustice. Black UU’s are calling our faith to join us as we work towards justice for ALL Black people and by extension for all people.
Principle #7: 360 degree vision
We honor the past struggles and wisdom from our elders. The work we do today builds the foundations of movements of tomorrow. We consider our mark on future generations.
Acknowledging the ways in which a Supremacist society diminishes us ALL is a critical part of the work of the Movement for Black Lives. When the most marginalized of our society is free, then we will ALL truly be free. We call on our faith to affirm the truth that only when Black Lives Matter will All Lives TRULY Matter. As Dr. King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”