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Tuesday, May 8, 2012


I'm naive.  And cranky.  And touchy.  A naive, cranky, touchy  bisexual cis  Unitarian. (If you don't know what cis means, look it up.  Told you I was cranky! )  
I fell in love with a Unitarian Universalist congregation the second Sunday in September 2008.   I remember the date - exactly - because a friend dragged me there against my will - me whining that I didn't want to go to church - and  I found the service and the hymn book so incredibly wonderfully amazingly shatteringly fantastic I fell in love with an audible fleshy thump . 
Nothing in life is permanent though...I noticed a few racist remarks and pushed them out of my consciousness.   Later someone commented they thought homosexuality was a sickness and would , therefore, be curable someday.  That one was harder to push into unconsciousness.  Others disliked the part of the welcome that stated that we lived on the traditional lands of the Secwempec people because they thought we should be over all that stuff - it was ancient history wasn't it?  Nothing to do with modern life was it?  
 I flinched every time I heard these things....I felt flayed. And I said nothing - I waited for long time church members to say something - anything - but they didn't hear those remarks.
I still said nothing.  And ....nothing changed.   
And one day I exploded.   A cheerful member of our Social and Environmental Action Committee said, after our Earth Day Service, "So and so has agreed to sit on the SEA committee!"  So-and-so is a climate change denier.  So-and-so is also the person who made the comment on homosexuality.  And a person who often makes racist comments.

I said - as gently as possible, that I had a real problem with that.   Everyone around me gazed at me as if I'd turned green  .  "We cannot exclude anyone!"  Why not?    Asking a climate change denier to sit on the committee is akin to asking a fervent Nazi to help us save Jews, I answered.   Plus ze is homophobic and racist. 
Then the  shit hit the fan - and mostly spattered me.  The answer to me was "I've never heard him say that."   Louder and louder .....while I got angrier and angrier. Later, the Board president kept shouting that my allegations were COMPLETELY UNBELIEVABLE!  Someone else told me  later  they thought I was making my story up.  
Gee, whiz, I never realized I'm either a liar or  delusional. 
Actually, I'm not.   My congregation is white, mostly older, mostly very straight ......and they have their furry white special ermine privilege wrapped up tight around themselves   right over their ears. So quite  literally , they  didn't hear the comments I heard.  

What's privilege?  Ok, I'll explain that one.   A quote on white privilege from:
I see a pattern running through the matrix of white privilege, a patter of assumptions that were passed on to me as a white person. There was one main piece of cultural turf; it was my own turn, and I was among those who could control the turf. My skin color was an asset for any move I was educated to want to make. I could think of myself as belonging in major ways and of making social systems work for me. I could freely disparage, fear, neglect, or be oblivious to anything outside of the dominant cultural forms. Being of the main culture, I could also criticize it fairly freely.

In proportion as my racial group was being made confident, comfortable, and oblivious, other groups were likely being made unconfident, uncomfortable, and alienated. Whiteness protected me from many kinds of hostility, distress, and violence, which I was being subtly trained to visit, in turn, upon people of color.

Straight privilege is similar.  
A few points on straight privilege from : 
  • If I pick up a magazine, watch TV, or play music, I can be certain my sexual orientation will be represented.
  • I do not have to fear that if my family or friends find out about my sexual orientation there will be economic, emotional, physical or psychological consequences.
  • I am not accused of being abused, warped or psychologically confused because of my sexual orientation.
So now what?  I'd like to know - I'd really like to know - what happens next in my congregation.

1 comment:

  1. I found this very interesting to read. The world depends on cranky ethical witnesses. all the best to you.