November 8th, 2017

 

Dear Colleagues,

The LREDA Board and Fall Conference Planning Team brought speakers to Fall Conference that embodied white supremacy and patriarchy. Of course, that was not our intention, but once again we learn that intention is not what counts, it’s the impact of our decisions and actions that matters, and our actions led to pain for our colleagues of color and others.

Friday evening our presenters led a brief exercise that many felt was paternalistic, forced intimacy, and used poor educational practices. Then, Saturday morning, after another exercise led by the presenters, some people of color challenged them, as did some white people and others with marginalized identities. The presenters were inauthentic and patronizing and more than one participant, mostly POC, demanded that they stop talking. At that point, the board suspended regular programming, white participants were led through a discussion, people of color caucused and the LREDA Board and the Diversity and Inclusion Team met. The Board and the DiT invited the caucus of people of color, if and when they were ready, to come and speak with us.

Representatives of the caucus then shared with the board and DIT their responses to the presenters and their hurt and anger about the board bringing these speakers to Fall Conference. There was great pain expressed, and speaking on behalf of the leadership of LREDA, we are deeply sorry, and grateful for their willingness to speak honestly, giving us another chance to be faithful colleagues. A group was formed to plan the Revised Programming for LREDA Fall Conference 2017.

The following day, we began a day of Faith Development for LREDA as an institution and for attendees. It included worship, a conversation between Jessica York, Co-Director of Ministry and Faith Development for the UUA and myself, Restorative Justice practices brought to us by Paul Langston-Daley, and racial identity caucusing groups.

While we deeply regret the pain inflicted on participants of color and others, what emerged was a lived collective experience of what dismantling white supremacy and centering the experiences of people of color and others with marginalized identities looks and feels like. I came away having learned a great deal about how white supremacy lives in me as well as an introduction to how it lives in the formal and informal systems of LREDA. Yet, I also am aware that the greatest learning was for white religious educators, at the expense of people of color.

After this experience of hurt, we sought forgiveness, we have identified many questions to be explored and most importantly we have had an experience of collaboration, vulnerability, humility, truth-telling, partnership and patience to build on. We will move forward, using the antidotes to white supremacy and building relationships of accountability.

Many people made contributions to the Revised Programming but I’d like especially to thank: Jessica York, Mark Hicks, Christina Rivera, Melissa Carvill Ziemer, Paul Langston- Daley, Erica Shadowsong, Aisha Hauser, Marisol Caballero, Matt Meyer, Jolena James-Szanton, Heather Concannon and Leia Durland-Jones.

We were thankful for Susan Frederick Gray and Carey McDonald’s presence and their appreciation of the ministry of religious education and of religious educators as valued colleagues.

And, I want to hold up a resource that we used in our Revised Programming that was part of the White supremacy Teach-In material. The board will be keeping close in the days ahead, I recommend it to all of you http://www.cwsworkshop.org/PARC_site_B/dr-culture.html

In humility and deep gratitude,


Annie Scott
LREDA President on behalf of the LREDA Board

 

 

 

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