by Robin Tartaglia, from Follen Responds to Racism (FRR)
Two years ago, the FRR committee shepherded a proposed resolution through a year-long process of discussion and education that resulted in an overwhelming vote at Annual Meeting to adopt an antiracism resolution. This resolution declared the church’s desire to be an intentionally and proactively antiracist congregation; to provide learning opportunities to deepen understanding of racism; to commit to raising antiracist children; and promised to display a Black Lives Matter banner as an act of public witness. There were other points as well: please read the resolution on our Follen website. The banner was dedicated in October 2017, and then removed in June 2018 to make way for the construction project.
Today the building is nearing completion and the landscaping is mostly done. The newly seeded lawn is thick and green. Time to get the banner back in place!! On a beautiful sunny day ten days ago, our Black Lives Matter banner was permanently re-installed and lovingly re-dedicated.
Listen to these words from the Black Lives Unitarian Universalist group that speaks to why this message is so vitally important:
“ALL BLACK LIVES MATTER
Queer Black lives, trans Black lives, formerly incarcerated Black lives, differently-abled Black lives, Black women’s lives, immigrant Black lives, Black elderly and children’s lives. ALL BLACK LIVES MATTER. We throw no one under the bus. We rise together.
We call on the Unitarian Universalist faith — a faith willing to make the bold proclamation that each person inherently matters — to live up to that claim by working toward a future in which Black lives are truly valued in our society.”
If one reads the local newspapers, one would notice the sad news that harassment and ugly racist attacks are ongoing in our schools (Lexington, Arlington, Winchester, etc.); the incidents of police officers shooting and killing citizens is ongoing (1,149 people killed by police in the USA since we took down the BLM banner at Follen in June 2018, and 540 of these were African American and Hispanic.-Washington Post); most all economic indicators- unemployment, family assets, poverty, education, —are dramatically worse for many African American families and not getting better.
I believe that our faith and our loving community compel us to become antiracist in our hearts and our actions.
As the Rev. Tom Schade said at the banner re-dedication:
“I honor this congregation for choosing to keep this basic challenge in front of the people of East Lexington. But I also honor this congregation for what you have had to do to get to this point. All of our UU history and tradition tells us that we should content ourselves with saying that “all Lives Matter.” Our tradition prefers to talk about the world we hope for someday, rather than naming the realities of the world we live in now. We have our own version of “pie in the sky” theology.
But this congregation overcame that racial liberalism, and no matter where you stood in that process, you can be proud of Follen’s clarity and bravery now.
We Bless this banner, as a public proclamation of our resolve to love mercy, do Justice, and walk humbly in creation.”