FRS Anti-Racism Initiative

The FRS Anti-racism Initiative Strategic Plan:

Building Capacity, Evaluating Policies and Practices, Initiating Action Now

We will be posting more information on this page and in the Steeple newsletter about the specific actions and/or projects the anti-racism initiative is undertaking. To participate, please email antiracism@frsuu.org.

Approach:  The FRS Anti-racist Core group has been meeting since June. We have organized into three sub-groups: Within (Individual), Among (Congregational focus) and Beyond (Community focus). As reflected in the larger group of FRS members who responded to Rev. Rebecca’s call in May 2020 there are those among us who recognize the need for individual development, awareness and education. Others are motivated to take on the congregational work of becoming an anti-racist congregation. Others still are eager to get out into the community and join others in anti-racist social justice action.

We acknowledge that there is some tension between those who feel the need for more study prior to taking action and those who feel the racial injustices, particularly anti-Black racism and brutality of our times, calls for immediate response and action. This plan calls for next steps which address all of these needs.

Overarching goal

To assist the board in leadership and the members in becoming an anti-racist congregation

Why

We see the spark of the Divine in all members of our one human family, recognizing that to diminish or dehumanize any person is an act of desecration of the sacred.

What

We commit ourselves to becoming an anti-racist congregation, committed to action, recognizing this as a sustained commitment of 7-10 years.

  • We will develop an anti-racist framework to identify all aspects of our shared congregational life
  • It is important to develop a shared language for anti-racist work including definitions and core concepts
  • We will balance internal anti-racist work with external social justice action to combat racism
  • We will join and support community partners working to end racism and make our community more inclusive, welcoming and equitable
  • We will follow the leadership of our Biracial Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) UU leaders and leaders from other marginalized UU groups
  • We will practice inclusion, centering those voices, theologies, liturgies, music and religious educational resources that are not white-centric

Build the capacity of FRS members to become anti-racist by providing opportunities for self-reflection and education.

  • The Within group seeks to help congregation members reflect on their experiences, thoughts and feelings around racism and racial justice. With the help of a personal self-reflection tool and survey, we are developing goals and practices for members and friends who wish to better understand their own experiences.
  • We are offering a series of small group experiences for those who want to go deeper.
  • Julie Parker Amery offers the “Seeing White”group several times a year. She will be offering 2 more groups in March and April 2020.
  • We will also be offering a Racial Justice Small Ministry Group, a 6-week program developed by the Groton UU church, in late April.

To receive more information about getting involved with the Within subgroup please email antiracism@frsuu.org.

Articulate the specific actions FRS will undertake in making the commitment to become an anti-racist congregation.

  • Support Rev. Rebecca in articulating a UU theology of Anti-racist work and holding dialogue sessions with lay leadership and the congregation resulting in a deep understanding of why anti-racist work is spiritual work.
  • The Among subgroup will explore options and make a recommendation about resources and tools that might best suit the needs of FRS (e.g. Widening the Circle of Concern, congregational audit from Unity Church, etc.) as a basis for engaging the Board and other lay leaders in developing a shared understanding of what it means to commit to becoming an anti-racist organization.
  • Review FRS policies and practices and identify those which have the unintended consequence of sustaining systemic racism. Identify alternative practices and policies which will advance FRS as an anti-racist and multicultural congregation.
  • Work with leadership to understand the financial implications of committing to become an anti-racist congregation.
  • Understand from staff what support might be needed to review faith formation, youth religious education, social justice initiatives and make sure there are anti-racist and multicultural perspectives at the center of these core programs and services.
  • Work with leadership, staff and the FRS Communications team to ensure consistency in centering anti-racist and multicultural perspectives in all FRS external and internal messaging.
  • Work with leadership to appoint a small subgroup to review FRS history from a “points of pain/points of pride” perspective. Put forward a FRS history which reflects with humility the racist past, honors the historic anti-racist work of our forefathers and mothers, and reaffirms our commitments and dedication to advancing our own arc of justice.

To receive more information about getting involved with the Among subgroup please email antiracism@frsuu.org.

 

Form effective collaborations and partnerships to support and advance the efforts of anti-racist and social justice organizations.

The Beyond Subgroup will study systemic racism and the structural changes needed to achieve racial justice, with a focus on local institutions to understand their policies and practices and the resulting impact on people of color who intersect with them.  The subgroup will gather information from other groups in the community who are already working on these issues, from individuals within the community who intersect with these institutions, and from primary research which would involve direct discussions with people within the institutions to better understand practices and policies.

The subgroup has selected Housing as its first area of focus.

  • As members of the community, it is important that all work be done with respect and care for individuals and the community at large. To that end, we hope to learn and collaborate with others in our community, as well as with other groups within FRS (such as JAM)
  • The subgroup has studied resources about racism and housing to understand how racism presents itself in that sphere. Next steps include fact-finding and data collecting to delve into the topic of housing issues in general in Newburyport, including:
    • Reviewing census and archived data on the racial makeup of the local populations over time
    • Having conversations with professionals and advocates in the Newburyport area (note: care will be taken to reflect the importance of maintaining good relationships within the community)
    • Inviting Edward Carson and other people of color to meet with the subgroup to discuss their own experience in Newburyport and to help guide our focus and work
    • Learning about the newly formed North Shore NAACP, which also plans to look at the housing issue as one of its focal points

Beyond its study of local institutions, the Community Subgroup will over time:

  • support the work of other Unitarian Universalist Congregations and join together in anti-racist work
  • amplify and support the work of black-owned enterprises and social justice organizations, building partnerships to create opportunities for contribution as well as growth and development
  • explore the work of UU Urban Ministries and support their initiatives within the Boston community
  • follow and support the initiatives of UU Mass Action BLM

To receive more information about getting involved with the Beyond subgroup please email antiracism@frsuu.org.

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