Saturday, September 17, 2005

Investigation Targets Unitarians, Racism

This Unitarian Universalist ad proclaims the movement's opposition to discrimination. Copyright the Unitarian Universalist Association (used by permission).

By Lisa Haddock
NJ Faith Forum Editor

The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) is soul-searching after alleged racist incidents occurred during the movement’s General Assembly, the Star-Telegram of Fort Worth, Texas, reported.

UUA President Rev. Bill Sinkford appointed a commission to investigate allegations of racist treatment toward young non-white convention delegates during the meeting, held in June in Fort Worth, Texas.

In an apology posted in July on the denomination’s Web site, UUA Secretary Paul Rickter stated: “We have been disturbed by reports of other unfortunate incidents during General Assembly within our own Unitarian Universalist family, in which some UU youth of color were made to feel that they were not welcome.”

The statement describes a verbal altercation involving an adult delegate and young non-white members.

“Based on the reports of witnesses … a UU adult … questioned their right to be there, provoking an angry response from the youth.”

A minister jumped into the fray to defend the adult. A young white attendee spoke up in defense of the youth of color. The young white delegate and minister exchanged heated words, according to the statement.

“This was not the only incident,” Rickert’s letter continues. “We have also heard that on several occasions in Fort Worth , white UUs assumed that UU youth of color were hotel service people and asked them to carry luggage or park cars. We are troubled that some UUs may have treated other UUs as if they did not belong among us. We can and must do better.”

Ironically, the 200,000-member, Boston-based association strongly condemns discrimination. The UUA’s statement of purpose says, in part: “The Association declares and affirms its special responsibility, and that of its member societies and organizations, to promote the full participation of persons in all of its and their activities and in the full range of human endeavor without regard to race, color, sex, disability, affectional or sexual orientation, age, or national origin.”

To read the letter describing racist incidents:
  • Paul Rickert letter

  • To read the UUA’s Principles and Purpose, click below:
  • UUA

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