FRS Anti-Racism Initiative
Wherever you may be on your journey,
Join Us on the Path to Becoming an Anti-racist Congregation
Much of the work of anti-racism is to educate ourselves and start the slow process of unwinding our racist conditioning. Begin this process by using our personal self-reflection tool to explore your own thoughts, feelings, and attitudes around racial justice.
Click to download your Personal Anti-Racism Self-Assessment.
Join The Spring Offering of Living the Pledge
Gain confidence in your ability to talk about and confront racism wherever it lives. Join our Pledge to End Racism by attending a “Living the Pledge” workshop series. FRS has 8 trained facilitators to guide you through a national curriculum, specifically developed by and for UUs. The 6-session workshops starting in February either in person or on Zoom.
Help us transform our world. Support the Parish Board in becoming an anti-racist congregation.
How the Anti-racism Team Formed
The Anti-racism team formed after Rev. Rebecca’s call in May 2020 for our congregation to respond to racial injustices, particularly anti-Black racism and brutality following the deaths of Brionna Taylor and George Floyd.
It’s important to acknowledge that folks at FRS had been working on racial justice issues for years, long before Rev. Rebecca’s call to action. When our Anti-racism team gathered to continue that work, we sought to align our initiatives with the FRS Values, Mission & Ends. The “Ends” that we identified as most relevant to our Anti-Racism efforts were:
- To Articulate our individual and congregational Unitarian Universalist identity,
- To Welcome people in all their diversity and create belonging for one another.
- And to Work in partnership, as individuals and as a congregation, to advance justice and put courageous love in service to our community and our world.
Our initial overarching goal was to work with the FRS board and members to reach a vote about becoming an anti-racist congregation. Over the past 2 years, members of the Anti-Racism team have shared resources, attended racial justice training programs, and reflected upon the desires and learning needs of our congregation.
Highlighted below are several of our Anti-Racism team actions and initiatives:
- FRS Board members completed a brief congregational audit to understand what it would mean to become an anti-racist organization. We realized that we have much to do to meet UUA guidelines, if that, indeed, is our long-range goal.
- Julie Parker-Amery offered the “Seeing White” program to lay a foundation for understanding the history of systemic racism and its impact on racial justice today
- Several team members focused on local housing practices to understand how racism presents itself and impacts people of color in the Newburyport area.
- Others developed a questionnaire for individuals to reflect on their personal experiences, thoughts, and feelings around racial justice.
- We implemented the six-session “Living the Pledge” workshop, a national program developed by and for UUs. “Living the Pledge” helps participants to gain skills and confidence in their ability to talk with others about racism and respond to social justice scenarios. Topics include reflections on implicit biases, ways to address microaggressions, and how to be an ally for persons of color.
This past October the Anti-Racism team held a retreat to reflect upon our journey. Frankly, we were disappointed with what felt like a limited impact of our efforts. Enrollment in our Living the Pledge program was much lower than we anticipated, and we struggled with identifying ways to connect our anti-racism efforts with spiritual growth and reflection. While we recognized the intersectionality of our anti-racism efforts with other social action groups, we weren’t sure how to link our initiatives to the work of others in the congregation.
In preparation for our retreat, members began to learn about the UUA’s 8th Principle Project, endorsed by several UUA groups, including Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism (BLUU), and Allies for Racial Equity. If you haven’t heard about it, the 8th Principle project has evolved over many years, and was strongly influenced by Paula Cole Jones, an independent consultant who specializes in multi-cultural competency. She recognized that a person can believe they are a good UU and can follow the 7 principles without thinking about or dealing with racism and other oppression at a systemic level. She and others proposed an 8th principle to correct this, and to renew the UUA’s commitment to anti-racist work. Please refer to the cover of your OOS as I read the words of the 8th principle.
We covenant to affirm and promote:
journeying toward spiritual wholeness by
working to build a diverse multicultural Beloved Community
by our actions that accountably dismantle racism and other oppressions
in ourselves and our institutions.”
We are already living the 8th Principle in many ways… through our youth trips to Pine Ridge reservation, showing up at anti-racism rallies and walks for peace, and most importantly, welcoming and creating a safe home for our Afghan family here at FRS.
We envision using the 8th Principle to guide future racial justice initiatives and our congregational journey toward Spiritual Wholeness and look forward to conversations with other social action groups to explore the intersectionality of our goals and actions.