Unitarian Speaker Says First Step is Addressing Racism is Acknowledging Its Existence
By Jon Sievert
The Rev Tom Rosiello, Affiliate Minister of Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of San Miguel de Allende (UUFSMA), explores the difficult issues of racism at this week’s service.
The word racist has become a highly-charged pejorative insult instead of the important descriptive label it should be, and one that steers our conversations away from the real issues. According to Rosiello, the first step to addressing racism is to honestly acknowledge its existence in our institutions, in others, and in us.
“In spite of generations of laws, proclamations of equality, and our political leaders’ universal declarations that they are nonracist, Americans live in a society permeated by racism,” he says.
“Some of it is as blatant as voter suppression laws, immigration policy, and massive inequality in our criminal justice system,” he continues. “Much of it is less blatant but equally potent. We cringe when one of us is called racist. Many of us proclaim we are nonracist, maybe even ‘the least racist person you ever met.’ The hard truth, as author Ibram Kendi observed, is that denial is the heartbeat of racism.”
Rosiello points out that to say you are nonracist is not enough.
“The opposite of racist is not ‘not racist.’ We must be ‘anti-racist. ‘Not racist’ implies a neutral space where all is OK as long as our laws are equal,” he continues. “There is no space for neutral ground in the struggle for racial equality that does nothing to attack the existing racial hierarchy. Nonracist neutrality is a way of perpetuating racism. Antiracism, on the other hand, requires a radical realignment of our thinking. We can’t think about nonracist policies that purport to make everyone equal but fail in the light of the reality of deeply rooted racism. We must adopt antiracist policies that affirmatively work to remedy racial discrimination. As Ibram Kendi poignantly states, ‘the only remedy to racist discrimination is with anti-racist discrimination.’”
In the words of President Lyndon Johnson: “You do not take a person, who for years has been hobbled by chains, and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of the race and then say, ‘You are free to compete with all others’ and still justly believe that you have been completely fair.”
The service is supported by music led by pianist Paula Peace that celebrates traditional American spirituals of the heart and spirit and hymns central to the struggle for racial equality.
For more information about the UUFSMA, including our Sunday morning children’s religious education program, social action outreach, weekly discussion groups, social activities, and Care Team. Join us any Sunday at 10:30am at the Hotel La Aldea or check out our website at uufsma.org
“Becoming an Antiracist”
By Rev Tom Rosiello
Sun, Sep 22, 10:30am
Hotel La Aldea