By Beryl Aschenberg, Director of Religious Education
“Yes, racism looks like hate, but hate is just one manifestation. Privilege is another. Access is another. Ignorance is another. Apathy is another, and so on. So while I agree with people who say no one is born racist, it remains a powerful system that we’re immediately born into. It’s like being born into air: you take it in as soon as you breathe.”
-Sam Woods, Blogger & Activist
The year has turned, and we are entering into 2018 exploring the relevant theme of Intention in our congregation. In RE this month we are guided by the understanding that our society centers around whiteness, and as Sam Wood notes, “…you take it in as soon as you breathe.” Our Black People Matter unit on January 21 and 28 will invite our young people to consider how we might notice and respond to this reality, and be more mindful of that “breathing” as we live out our values as Unitarian Universalists.
Our 1st-12th grade participants will explore themes of identity, privilege, and systemic racism towards African Americans. While we recognize that racism exists towards groups other than African Americans, we are focusing on Black people, because of the ever-increasing awareness that African Americans are facing systemic oppression in our nation that is literally deadly.
Lesson plans will have children in our youngest classes consider shades of skin; middle elementary children might examine explicit and hidden messages authors convey about race and beauty by considering a number of picture books, or different ways the color of your skin can affect how you are treated in the world. Older children and youth will delve into the discussions such as “Black Lives Matter” vs. “All Lives Matter” and different parameters of privilege. I encourage you to ask them what they know about these important subjects.
Racism and oppression are not “easy” topics for most of us to discuss. The fact that it causes discomfort, though, is one reason why we are tackling these themes together in community. Our objective is to begin a conversation, a place where thoughtful discourse is encouraged and accepted as we struggle through some big issues with the youngest among us. Perhaps they will teach us something!
I hope your family will make a special effort to join us for this important religious education program! Click here for detailed curriculum information.