What if All the Kids are White? is the book assigned in preparation for the Multicultural Religious Education Renaissance Module, an educational program for religious educators, ministers, youth advisors and anyone else interested in growing a multicultural congregation. Often I hear conversations in UU churches of how open and accepting we are of “them” – some other group – perhaps Hispanics, African-Americans, GLBT or poor folks. If only “they” would come and stay long enough to be part of “us”, then our diversity problem would be solved! But the painful truth is that the hard work of being open to diversity AND ITS IMPLICATIONS belongs to ME and my congregation – not THEM.
I was a white, middle-aged woman with a history of moderate involvement in civil rights when I took the Multicultural RE module in 1998. It changed my life and the way I look at the world. Did I walk away feeling depressed and guilty for the unearned privileges I enjoyed? Not really, but to a depth unknown before, I became aware of the extent culture and systems impact me and everyone else. That profound challenge to my worldview continues today, and indeed symbolizes why Unitarian Universalism is such a difficult faith to live. How I wish I could just transform “them” and make the world a better place, but now I realize that the struggle must start with me. Darn! And that for as long as I live I will never be finished with spiritual growth. Double darn!
All of us are aware of the changing complexion and culture around us. We want our children and our faith to thrive, but feel ill-equipped and uneasy about how to proceed. In a safe community, the Multicultural RE Renaissance Module challenges individuals to examine their worldview, unbuild what is no longer helpful, and built upon their strengths to be the kind of person there are striving to be.
This work in becoming open to multicultural richness begins with you. Please join me April 15-17 as we struggle and learn together! Details are at the St. Lawrence District website http://www.sld.uua.org/calendar1.html.
Lifespan Faith Development Consultant
Ohio Meadville and St. Lawrence Districts