Walpole Unitarian Church Task Force to Present
Forums on Facing Racism
Walpole Unitarian Church has been engaged in the study of systemic racism since last summer. As part of that study, we have compiled a list of readings and videos which are linked from our website, https://walpoleuuchurch.wixsite.com/walpoleunitarian
Annual Report – Facing Racism Task Force
By Judy Lundal and Candace Damon
During the early summer of 2020 a group of us discussed educating ourselves about racism, white privilege and inequities for people of color in our country. The WUUC Board and the Committee on Ministry supported the effort and tasked us with an educational purpose. Antonia Andreoli, Karen Walter, Pam Blair, Joanna Andros, Candace Damon, Judy Lundahl and Rev. Elaine Bomford met several times as a Facing Racism Task Force (FRTF), open to any friend or member of the congregation.
Most of us had little or no knowledge of living as a Black person in the U.S. today: we are all white. We looked for insight by reading books, listening to podcasts, and watching videos and films. We compiled a list of resources that we published on the WUUC website, where it continues to live at https://walpoleuuchurch.wixsite.com/walpoleunitarian/wuc-facing-racism-task-force.
We led seven Facing Racism forums, more or less monthly, beginning in September 2020. In the first forum, we discussed Ijeoma Oluo’s book, “So You Want to Talk About Race,” giving participants a foundation of common language. The October forum focused on criminal justice, the 13th Amendment, and bail bond reform.
Unitarian Universalist organizational responses were discussed at the third forum. The December forum considered two of James Baldwin’s writings. “Caste: The Origins of our Discontents,” by Isabel Wilkerson was the topic of the February 2021 Forum. In March, we watched Ibram X Kendi defining anti-racism, a family talking about raising Black and mixed-race children, and Amanda Gorman talking with Trevor Noah about her Biden inaugural poem, “The Hill We Climb.” Black Joy in music, dance and poetry was the focus of the May Forum.
Rev. Elaine moderated each forum with various task force members supporting her.
As a result of our activity, the organizing group of us decided to reinvigorate the WUUC’s Social Action Committee. Collectively, we affirm an interest in becoming anti-racist and in continuing to face racism. We also acknowledge our limitations in engaging with this mission as white people in a very white part of our country.
Our determination to move forward as friends and members of the WUUC is grounded in an appreciation of what we have learned about our American racial history; a desire to have an impact on our border state, Connecticut River Valley locale; an ongoing commitment to the work we have done as a part of a congregation; and a conviction that our efforts will be more powerful as part of a regional collaboration.
Therefore, we’ll be moving forward this coming year – we hope with many of you – to reinvigorate our Social Action Committee – dedicated to combatting racism; creating a more welcoming, inclusive, and just Connecticut River Valley community; and partnering with other, like-minded congregations and social justice organizations, including the Monadnock Interfaith Project. Please join us!