Religious Exploration – What it means to be people of intention – Special anti-racism programming for January
Leah | Jan 04, 2018


As we enter the new year, it’s we consider making resolutions. And in RE we have special programming for children in Pre-k through 6th grade

From Soul Matters and my college Katie Covie:Goals and resolutions “push us out” into future possibilities.  To set intentions, we listen to our inner voice which tells us who we truly are, and so the first session offers components for accessing our inner voice.

In addition, I was reminded that the reason so many of our resolutions fall by the wayside about January 10th is that once we fail, we lose our future possibilities. With intentions, failure is expected and a part of life. Intentions are part of who we truly are, and so when we make a mistake, we return to who we truly are and try again. Only the enlightened Buddha is perfect, says one source, so get over making mistakes.

Other religions have rituals for acknowledging mistakes and asking for forgiveness, such as the Catholic practice of Confession and Reconciliation, and the Jewish Days of Atonement. What do we UU’s have to reconcile when we make mistakes?

Acknowledging mistakes, making amends, striving to re-connect and starting again are important parts of our work in dismantling white supremacy. We all have been raised in a white supremacy culture and we couldn’t help that, but we can work to be more aware of how our actions, however conscious or unconscious are shaped by our upbringing.

In recent years, we have special programming in RE for children in pre-k through 6th grade for the month of January. We have used different RE models like Workshop Rotation and UU Jam which have combined the upstairs groups and the downstairs groups, much like we do for UU’s in Action Sundays. Special programming in January is a chance for children to focus on one story and explore it through different activities and in mixed age groups. In the past, with help from congregants with special talents, we have incorporated movement, music, science, art, drama and Lego workshops over the course of the month.

This year, I’d like to focus on how to talk about race and use a 2-week curriculum called “Black People Matter”, which was developed by my colleague, Beryl Aschenberg. She explains – Racism is enculturated. Many of our children see it in their lives, especially here in Milwaukee, [or Albany?] but don’t have a name for it or a sense of how it plays out. White parents and other adults often choose not to talk about race with our children because it makes us uncomfortable, or we aren’t quite sure that we won’t somehow “do it wrong”. But racism dehumanizes all of us. As a faith community, we have an obligation to create a safe space where people of all ages can have these conversations. We want our young people to recognize that racism is an issue, even when they themselves might identify as ‘color blind.’ In this program, we begin by defining racism, and helping young people to identify not only the terrible cost to people of color, but also to our entire society. Our goal is to empower our young people to become confident in talking about race and race relations, and knowledgeable about it so they feel ready to stand up to racism when they hear it with their friends, with their families, and in their community. We are choosing to call this program “Black People Matter” rather than “Black Lives Matter” in deference to the specificity of that movement, and a desire not to misappropriate it for our own use. This program just begins to scratch the surface of a viable introduction to the cause of anti-racism, but we believe it is a good beginning.

I’m reaching out in particular to members of our Inclusion Team to help present a month long “Black People Matter” program that will also include Family Chapel Jan 7 and a UU’s in Action session on Jan 14. This curriculum is geared for especially for white parents/caretakers with white children. Parents with children of color generally talk about race when their children are young. And I’m finding out that Albany UU parents/caretakers of all backgrounds have different competencies and levels of comfort in talking to their children about race. So, I’ll be looking at how to be inclusive of all our parents/caretakers and children.

Parents and caretakers, more information about this special programming for January will be in my weekly email newsletters this month, including materials to support you taking about race with your children.

In faith,