25 to 1: People of Color Experiences in Unitarian Universalism 1980-2005

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25 to 1: People of Color Experiences in Unitarian Universalism 1980-2005

May 26, 2006

25 to 1: People of Color Experiences in Unitarian Universalism


Joseph M. Santos-Lyons

Masters of Divinity Thesis (M.DIV)

Harvard Divinity School

Professor Wallace Best, Thesis Advisor

Catherine Playoust, Senior Seminar leader

Diane Moore, Faculty Advisor

May 26, 2006

To my wonderful family who sustain and remind me of heaven and earth. For our newest life Miyka’ela Luwalhati, her mother Maria Aimee, her Kuya Gabriel Hiraya. Also to Bernadette Santos, my mother-in-law who helps us out in so many ways. And finally, for the generations of People of Color, within Unitarian Universalism, who have shared the free faith, and for me, those outside yet sympathetic to my work, growth and ministry.
To friends, authors and mentors who shaped my heart and soul in this life – Isabel Allende, Rigoberta Menchu, Dolores Huerta, Angela Davis, Quintard Taylor, Edwina Welch, Daniela Diaz, Mustafa Kasubhai, Javier Cervantes, Robin Morris Collin, Alexandra Caballero, Consuela Zumwalt, Andrea Adams, Trevor Montieth, Carmen Rubio, Brandon Sugiyama, Daniel Garcia, Cindy Nguyen, Kim Nguyen, Glen Banfield, Maleah Ermac, Nathan Thuan Nguyen, Leslie Lum, Jae-sik Kaufman, Eun-yung Paik, Alyce Gowdy-Wright, Kristen Harper, Danielle Gladd, Melvin Hoover, Leon Spencer, James Brown, William Jones, Robette Dias, Manish Mishra, Marisa Gutierrez, William Sinkford, Joo Young Choi, Diane Arakawa, Cheng-Imm Tan, Jose Ballester, James Coomes, Mark Morrison-Reed, Michelle Bentley, Tony Brumfield, Janice Marie Johnson, Hope Johnson, Gordon Bailey, Natalie Nguyen, Chester McCall, Mitra Rahnema, Dzu Do, Belva Brown Jordan, Cheryl Giles, and Wallace Best.

Personal Note:

In September 2006 I will be beginning a Ministerial Internship with the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Philippines based in Dumaguette and Manila. I am raising funds for my internship expenses, given the limited resources of the UU Church of the Philippines to pay for my basic living costs and ministerial development. Funds have been received from the Fund for International Unitarian Universalism, covering roughly 50% of the costs anticipated. I am seeking to raise an additional $3000 for the internship. I am asking those who receive this thesis to consider donating $20 or more. If you are willing, please send to PO Box 3011, Portland, OR 97208 or paypal to joey_lyons@yahoo.com. Tax-deduction is a possibility, but please contact me first. Thank you for your consideration.
Table of Contents

Chapter I: Introduction 6

Personal Story 10

Story of Rev. Jones 13

Chapter II: Methodology and Frameworks 15

Framework 1: Jones’s Diagnosis Determines Therapy 16

Framework 2: Dias’ Historical Development of Institutional Racism 17

Historical Development of Institutional Racism Chart 20

Chapter III: Terms and Scope 21

1980-2005 21

People of Color Terminology 24

Crossroads Ministry. Racial Identity Caucusing: A Strategy for Building Anti-Racist Collectives. Chicago, IL: Crossroads Ministry, n.d. 147

Chapter IV: Survey of Unitarian Universalist People of Color 29

Chapter V: Whiteness of Unitarian Universalism 39

Chapter VI: What Is At Stake 48

Visions of UU People of Color 51

Historical Literature 54

Race and Racism in the UUA 55

Congregational Race Relations 57

Denominational/Associational Race Relations 61

General Assembly (GA) Race Relations 63

Racial Barriers in UU Congregations 66

Chapter VII: People of Color Communities (1980-2005) 70

African-American Unitarian Universalist Ministries (1989-1998) 70

Diverse & Revolutionary Unitarian Universalist Multicultural Ministries (1997- ) 71

DRUUMM Asian/Pacific Islander Caucus (2003- ) 72

Latino/a Unitarian Universalist Networking Association (1996- ) 74

UU Network on Indigenous Affairs (1992- ) 76

UU Ministers Association 76

UUA Board of Trustees 77

Young Religious UU 78

Continental UU Young Adult Network 79

District People of Color Efforts (see map on previous page) 80

Congregational People of Color Ministries 80

Chapter VIII: Racial Ideas in Unitarian Universalism 1980-2005 82

1980-1983: Post-Empowerment Controversy 82

1984-1991: Racial Code Talking 89

1992-1997: A Question About Racial/Cultural Diversity 94

1997-2001: An Answer To Racial/Cultural Diversity 98

2002-2005: Black President of a White Denomination 105

Religious Professionals of Color 111

1980-1989 112

1990-1999 117

2000-2005 121

Chapter X: Conclusion and Recommendations 123

Recommendations for Unitarian Universalist People of Color Ministry: 124

Recommendations for UUA Race Relations 126

Table 1: Timeline of Racial Ideas 1980-2000 129

Table 2: List of Ministers of Color Fellowshipped by the UUA 1980-2005 131

Appendix A: Survey of Unitarian Universalist People of Color 2005 133

Bibliography 141

GA – General Assembly, the annual meeting of delegates from Unitarian Universalist congregations in North America.
UU – short for Unitarian Universalist. Generally used to describe individuals or specific organizations aside from the central administration of the association of congregations.
UUA – short for the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, founded in 1961. It is utilized to symbolize both the association of congregations and the central administration of the association.
25 to 1
The odds of meeting a Person of Color in a Unitarian Universalist congregation are 25 to 1. There are no congregations with a majority of People of Color. In a liberal religious faith with long standing commitments to racial justice, a community of People of Color has never materialized. People of Color are present, however, and increasingly active in the lifeblood of the Association. We struggle within a White institution for respect, dignity and the right to sacred space. What are our experiences? Who has come before us? What have we experienced? What have we learned? May this history help each of us better understand the wholeness of our religious home. Joseph Santos-Lyons, May 2006

Danielle DiBona and Vivian Hao (credit: Santos-Lyons)

Kendall Renae and Paula Cole Jones (credit: Santos-Lyons)

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