Worship Script 1
Worship Script (1 of 4)
Building A New Way
White Supremacy Teach-In
The Legacy of Caring by Thandeka
Despair is my private pain
Born from what I have failed to say
failed to do
failed to overcome.
Be still my inner self
let me rise to you
let me reach down into your pain
and soothe you.
I turn to you
to renew my life
I turn to the world
the streets of the city
the worn tapestries of
personal things in the bag lady’s cart
rage and pain in the faces that turn from me
afraid of their own inner worlds.
This common world I love anew
as the life blood of generations
who refused to surrender their humanity
in an inhumane world
courses through my veins.
From within this world
my despair is transformed to hope
and I begin anew
the legacy of caring.
James Cone’s Essay: “Theology’s Great Sin: Silence in the Face of White Supremacy”.
This essay is published in Soul Work, a collection of essays addressing racism in the UUA, as resources for a Journey Towards Wholeness:
"I assume that the UUA has called this consultation because you want to break the silence and do something about making the journey toward wholeness a way of life in the church and in society. I am here because I support you in your efforts.
I urge white theologians, minister, and other morally concerned person to break their silence immediately and continuously. It is immoral to see evil and not fight it. As Rabbi Prinz put it at the March on Washington, “Bigotry and hatred are not the most urgent problems. The most urgent, the most disgraceful, the most shameful and most tragic problem is silence.” […]
Talking about how to destroy white supremacy is a daily task and not just for consultations and conferences. If we talk about white supremacy only at special occasions set aside for that, the problem will never be solved. People of color do not have the luxury of just dealing with racism in church meeting. If that were true, it would not be so bad! No day passes in which blacks don’t have to deal with white supremacy. It is found everywhere – in the church, in seminaries, at publishing houses, in government, and all around the world. There is no escape. If white get tired of talking about race, just imagine how people of color feel.”
The Nod, By Adam Dyer
You’ve seen it. Two black men pass each other on the street. They nod. Subtle, sometimes imperceptible, but there is acknowledgement.
“Do you know him?”
“No . . . (yes)
. . . no.”
I learned this from my father and my grandfather and my other grandfather and my uncles and my great uncle and from every other black man in my early life. Once, as a teenager, I didn’t do it. I was verbally accosted from behind, “Don’t you ever forget . . . I’m all you’ve got!” I’ve never forgotten since.
These days it gets harder. I walk through places where armies of broken black men inhabit the corners and wander aimless and beaten. When I cross their paths, I look for that acknowledgement, the one that says, “We are valid. We are real, we have a place, we have a family . . . you are all I’ve got.” When it doesn’t come—obscured by drugs and desperation, or more often from just trying to live as part of this grand experiment called America, pressed down, shot at, torn apart, stolen from, talked about and not to, criminalized and caricatured—part of me dies inside.
The young brother passes without it. It is generational too. Fewer and fewer young people making this contact. I wonder if they really feel safe? So safe that they don’t need this kind of community. Not just with skin color, but feeling no need to recognize each other for any reason. Maybe they are afraid because they see me as the unknown. My God, we don’t recognize each other! Maybe we aren’t teaching them that the struggle isn’t over, that time hasn’t healed a wound that opens, over and over again. That this simple acknowledgement . . . nod . . . was once all we had, and still, like it or not, may be all we’ve got.
HYMN #1032Building Bridges
STORY FOR ALL AGES
Wake Up To Injustices! by Gail Forsyth-Vail
This story was created collaboratively by several religious educators. As you prepare to share it, read the 1966 Ware Lecture "Don't Sleep Through the Revolution," by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered at the Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly in Hollywood, Florida, May 18, 1966.
There was a man named Rip van Winkle who liked to share stories and was kindly to children, but he avoided hard work or anything he thought unpleasant. One day, as the story goes, he found a nice grassy place on a mountain and he fell fast asleep. But this was no ordinary nap. Rip Van Winkle slept for over 20 years!
Twenty years!!! What do you suppose he missed [take several answers]. As a matter of fact, the most important thing that Rip Van Winkle missed was the American Revolution. When he went up the mountain, he lived in a British colony. When he came down 20 years later, he lived in the new United States.
This is an old and famous story, but would you be surprised to know that it was a favorite of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King? It is one he told a lot. As a matter of fact, he told it to a huge crowd of Unitarian Universalists in 1966, about 50 years ago. He talked about the Civil Rights movement, and urged all those who heard him to wake up, to not sleep through the big changes that were happening all around as Black people and their supporters worked to gain equality rights. He asked white people in particular not to be asleep and ignore injustice. He urged people to Wake Up!
Well, in the last few months a new set of leaders from the People of Color community are sending the same message Dr. King sent 50 years ago, "Wake Up! Many of the injustices- much of the unfairness- is still here. And there are some new injustices. Wake up!"
So I’m going to ask you to help me deliver this message to the Unitarian Universalists who are sitting right here in the sanctuary with us. Can you help me wake everyone up? Let’s practice saying, “Wake Up to Injustice!” [Say this with them a couple of times, and invite the children to be loud! On the third try, invite the whole congregation to join you.]
And many people who have not been paying attention, who have been "asleep" are waking up to injustice thanks to the new young leaders. We'll talk more about waking up in our RE groups, and perhaps you may want to talk with your families about times when they have "woken up" to injustice- and perhaps are "waking up" even today.
This is from Dr. King’s final speech, delivered April 3, 1968 in Memphis. Can be read responsively with great energy:
Leader: Something is happening in Memphis; something is happening in our world. And you know, if I were standing at the beginning of time, with the possibility of taking a kind of general and panoramic view of the whole of human history up to now, and the Almighty said to me, "Martin Luther King, which age would you like to live in?" I would take my mental flight by Egypt and I would watch God's children in their magnificent trek from the dark dungeons of Egypt through, or rather across the Red Sea, through the wilderness on toward the promised land. Congregation: And in spite of its magnificence, I wouldn't stop there.
Leader: I would move on by Greece and take my mind to Mount Olympus. And I would see Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Euripides and Aristophanes assembled around the Parthenon. And I would watch them around the Parthenon as they discussed the great and eternal issues of reality. Congregation:
But I wouldn't stop there.
I would go on, even to the great heyday of the Roman Empire. And I would see developments around there, through various emperors and leaders.
But I wouldn't stop there.
I would even go by the way that the man for whom I am named had his habitat. And I would watch Martin Luther as he tacked his ninety-five theses on the door at the church of Wittenberg. But I wouldn't stop there.
I would come on up even to 1863, and watch a vacillating President by the name of Abraham Lincoln finally come to the conclusion that he had to sign the Emancipation Proclamation.
But I wouldn't stop there.
I would even come up to the early thirties, and see a man grappling with the problems of the bankruptcy of his nation. And come with an eloquent cry that we have nothing to fear but "fear itself."
But I wouldn't stop there.
Leader: Strangely enough, I would turn to the Almighty, and say, "If you allow me to live just a few years in the second half of the 20th century, I will be happy."
Now that's a strange statement to make, because the world is all messed up. The nation is sick.
Congregation: But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars. And I see God working in a way that we, in some strange way, are responding.
CANDLES OF JOY AND CONCERN
Those who are so moved are now invited to come forward to light a candle, expressing a joy or concern in their lives. As you do, you may briefly share what it is. We ask that people coming forward speak for no more than a sentence or two, and speak from the heart about issues in their lives, rather than political issues, which we can take up at coffee hour or in the parking lot.
The White Supremacy Teach-in Video Homilies - "What Are We Fighting For?"
In joining the #WhiteSupremacyTeachIn, the CLF features the words of leaders connected in various ways with the CLF: Amanda Weatherspoon, CLF Learning Fellow; Jake Morrill, Board Member; Arif Mamdami, incoming Board Chair; and Lena K. Gardner, former CLF staff member and incoming Executive Director of Black Lives of UU. The title “What Are We Fighting For?” is deliberately ambiguous, asking both “Why are we fighting?” and “For what are we fighting? What calls us as UUs to do the difficult work of battling white supremacy? Why does it matter that we stay in the struggle? What is to be gained or lost?"
HYMN #1017 Building A New Way
Spirit of the Pioneer, by Melvin Hoover
We can’t change the past, but we can learn from it and we can build on it.
We can’t control the future, but we can shape it and enhance the possibilities for our children and grandchildren.
We can’t discern in the present the fullness of our actions and their impact, but we can be pioneers in our time, exploring fully the crevices and cracks where knowledge and new insights might be found.
We can explore our spectrum of relationships and confront our complacency and certainty about the way things are.
We can are to face ourselves in our entirety,
to understand our pain,
to feel the tears,
to listen to our frustration ad confusion, and
to discover new capacities and capabilities that will empower and transform us.
In the spirit of the pioneer, let us now go forth.