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DISMANTLING RACISM AT UCM

Our educational focus is “Dismantling Racism”: deepening our understanding of systemic and structural racism and the inherent bias that has been internalized by people in Canadian society.  We seek to deepen our understanding of the impact of racism on racialized people, so that we may develop as Unitarian Universalists.  As a community, we are working to enlarge our circle and truly welcome people of colour.

There are essentially two key steps to dismantle racism:

Step 1: Awareness
Experts tell us that our unconscious mind makes a majority of our decisions. It creates blind spots — unconscious biases that can narrow our vision and potentially influence our behaviours. We need to become aware of any blindspots we may have.

Step 2: Action
We need to consciously use strategies to minimise any blindspots and actively include and leverage diversity of perspectives.

Inclusion Nudge – Action:

  • Have a conversation with the people you interact with regularly and ask them to tell you something you don’t know about them and share something that they wouldn’t know about you.
  • We need to consciously use strategies to minimise any blindspots and actively include and leverage diversity of perspectives.
  • Stop and reflect on who you are providing opportunities to (such as networking events, introductions, work opportunities,training). Are you selecting the same people or people who are most like you most frequently? Make a plan to actively rotate the opportunities.
  • Another listening challenge, give everyone your full attention. Don’t finish their sentences, interject or interrupt. Listen to their answers or opinions. Did you pick up anything new? Really listening can help to break down our assumptions and help us have stronger relationships.
  • Aligning with the theme of listening, this week if you disagree with someone’s point of view, take a breath and imagine things from their point of view, put yourself in their place. Take your time when reacting.
  • Have a curiosity day. Ask people questions about themselves and why they do the things they do. Taking the time to understand peoples’ motivations can help you build a deeper relationship with them.
  • Awareness: The Implicit Association Tests developed by Harvard University will help you gain a deeper understanding of your attitudes and preferences across a range of different groups of people and associated attributes. These scientifically proven tests are completely anonymous, and your personal results will be shared only with you.
    Take 10 minutes to take one of the available Implicit Association Tests to learn more about any blindspots you may have: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/canada/ Harmeet Dhillon
  • Expand your social media network. If you use facebook, twitter or Instagram, seek out people to follow who are different from you. If you don’t know where to begin, follow artists and celebrities whose life experiences are not yours. Pay attention to your responses to their posts. What are you learning – about them and yourself?
  • When you are looking for someone to consult with on a decision – professional or personal – you need to make, don’t go to your usual sounding boards. Choose someone new, someone on the edge of your group, or someone that you would like to get to know better.  How did that feel? What perspectives and insights arose from the conversation?
  • Widen your news outlets: read a different news website or newspaper and become knowledgeable about varying points of view. Can you bring these new perspectives into a meeting or discussion?
  • Watch this video about ways to overcome blind spots by broadening your perspective. Then consider these questions:
    Consider a time when you felt an immediate connection with or had a strong preference for someone. How might similarity bias have influenced your behavior towards them?
    Conversely, how might your belief that someone is different than you influence your behavior towards them?
    What techniques can you use to counteract the potential impact of similarity bias?  https://youtu.be/lLYf28E1Bfs
  • We continue the PWC video series with this session on blind spots and prototype bias: https://youtu.be/Bv4WUlqgtzI  Takeaways:  Be open. Don’t let one shining moment or one speed bump sway your opinion forever. Look at all evidence objectively. Play your own devil’s advocate and seek out contradictory views. Slow down your thinking. Ask questions and bring in other perspectives to expand your point of view.
  • First impressions can block objectivity; which can cause missed opportunities. Sometimes wanting to be “right” can take us in the wrong direction. https://youtu.be/cEWiQNpDd34
    What concepts regarding “halo”, “horns” or confirmation bias was new to you? Do you agree with the idea that not all biases are bad? Why or why not?
  • When talking to clients, or colleagues, or acquaintances about their interests, try not to steer the conversation towards your own interests. For example, if you normally start a conversation talking about sports, try starting with the arts and vice versa).
  • If you tend to go the same places and have your ‘own’ spot, why don’t you sit somewhere different the one day this week? Literally get a different point of view.
  • Stop and reflect on who you are providing opportunities to (such as networking events, introductions, work opportunities,training). Are you selecting the same people or people who are most like you most frequently? Make a plan to actively rotate the opportunities.

 

Our Social Responsibility Committee meets regularly.  Check the calendar for the next meeting,

There are many ways that UCM acts for a better world.  Join in!

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Learn about the 8th Principle

There are many ways that UCM acts for a better world.  Join in!

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Canadian Unitarian Council: Dismantling Racism Study Group
Final Report on National Survey (May 8, 2021)
Workshop at UCM (May 27, 2021) – Review the presentation

Canadian Newspaper Articles (May 2021):

Books: 

Articles:

Watch

Other resources: 

 

There are many ways that UCM acts for a better world.  Join in!

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On June 25th 2019, more than 100 UUs joined Rev. Dr. Mark Morrison-Reed, Dr. Wilburn Hayden, and Rev. Fulgence Ndagijimana to learn more about anti-Black racism in Canada and within our UU Community. The event began with opening words and a few minutes defining the intention for the evening as an opportunity to listen, deeply, for understanding. Each speaker then shared their personal, and professional perspectives which were insightful and often raw. Attendees were invited to breakout sessions to discuss what they had learned during the evening, and what they found to be hopeful in the midst of so much pain and protest.

The discussions in the breakout sessions were recorded by notetakers and shared when the full group reconvened following the breakout sessions. Overwhelmingly, participants commented that they were moved, often to tears, by the experiences and comments from the presenters and that they were hungry for more opportunities to discuss how to confront and work to dismantle racism. There is, again, the recognition that change is necessary now and requires hard work, honest self-reflection for non-black people, and consistent advocacy.

In the coming days, the CUC will make an edited version of the meeting and presentations available on our Youtube channel. Summaries of the presenters’ speaking notes are available so that those who were not able to attend can experience parts of this important discussion. Stay tuned for upcoming opportunities to learn about and combat racism.

From our presenters: 

Rev. Dr. Mark Morrison-Reed: Let me begin my reflections by offering words from Tim Tyson’s address at the Granville County’s Human Relations Commission Annual Banquet, September 2004:

“…lean into it. I am talking about racial discomfort. I have certainly felt my share of it, through the course of my work, and I recommend racial discomfort to you.  Lean into it.  That is, doing exactly the opposite of your first instinct, which is to retreat as fast as possible and is also perfectly logical. None of us wants to feel uncomfortable. But there is no way we can have a fruitful and candid conversation about race in an interracial setting and always feel comfortable. But it won’t kill you to feel a little uncomfortable. Just go ahead, lean into it, and listen. Listen to other people, of course, but listen to your discomfort. It will teach you a lot.  You’ll be okay. And we’ll all get better at this.”

White folks don’t get it because most often, buffered as they are by white privilege, it does not touch them directly as it does black men who, almost universally, have been carded as I have been – or worse.

Full reflection here

Dr. Wilburn Hayden: Racism is Racism: Canadian racism is often cited as different from USA racism, but racism is racism. White supremacy is just as real in Canada as in the USA. Discrimination and segregation (by law or tradition) are racist. Canadian “colour-blindness” erases black lives and extends the legacy of colonialism and slavery as witnessed through the lens of black injustices, poverty, and exclusion.

Full reflection here

Rev. Fulgence Ndagijimana: I believe a faith community to be about hard stuff of life and death and everything in between.   I do not see religious communities’ goal or mission to be the pursuit of comfort of its members.  UU institutions should resist this urge.  I see them as safe spaces for people to face hard truths, to ask difficult questions, to grow as human beings and develop values for which they can live by or die for.

Anti-black racism is a pressing issue.  Black people within and outside our communities are hurting.  The current moment is full of hope. But black people and their allies will need to keep demanding change. They will need to keep the tension high.   Change will come if dismantling anti-black racism is seen for what it is: spiritual work.

Transformation is coming but it will not come without our boldness and leadership.

Full reflection here

Resources for Education and Reflection:
These conversations about racism, while not easy, are critically important. We have a growing list of resource suggestions.

We also offer these recent additions:

On Being hosts a conversation with Robin DiAngelo, author of White Fragility and Resmaa Menakem, Minneapolis-based trauma specialist and author of My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies. https://onbeing.org/programs/robin-diangelo-and-resmaa-menakem-in-conversation/

Article “This could be a turning point” by Jim Corrigall found on page 5 of the latest edition of the UK publication The Inquirer, The Unitarian and Free Christian Paper. The article outlines the writer’s impressions of a Black Lives Matter event very similar to our own. https://www.inquirer.org.uk/pages/download/issue-7991?wpdmdl=431&refresh=5f076d39cefaf1594322233

Unmasking Racism: A CBC virtual town hall on how to dismantle systemic racism against Indigenous, Black and people of colour. https://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1752283203533

Read the CUC’s  Statement on Mourning the Deaths of More People of Colour 

There are many ways that UCM acts for a better world.  Join in!

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In this workshop series and Sunday services, we unpacked racism in Canada and explored ways to become allies in the struggle to dismantle the racial barriers in our congregations and the larger community.
The workshops took an explicit view that transforming ourselves and our society into a racially just place implicates a responsibility in white folks to engage more robustly.

There are many ways that UCM acts for a better world.  Join in!

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The Unitarian Congregation in Mississauga acknowledges that we are on the traditional lands of the Mississauga of the New Credit Nation.

We are walking with all who are on the journey towards truth, justice, healing and reconciliation between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous peoples. We welcome the opportunity to learn from those who have been on this path a long time, as well as others who have joined it more recently. We believe we are part of a wider learning community.

Some of our past events include participating in the Kairos Blanket exercise,   and learning about the intergenerational impacts of colonialism from Darren Thomas ,  a member of the Seneca Nation and university professor.

There are a number of exciting programs on reconciliation.

Check out our Calendar

Visit the Canadian Unitarian Council’s website and explore the Truth, Healing and Reconciliation pages.
Read the Summary of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future

Reconciliation Canada is leading the way in engaging Canadians in dialogue and transformative experiences that revitalize the relationships among Indigenous peoples and all Canadians. Read their Reconciliation Discussion Guide

What is Reconciliation?  A blog post from Indigenous Corporate Training.

21 Things you may not know about the Indian Act – CBC article by Bob Joseph.

Charity TrueNorthAid offers some suggestions to support reconciliation efforts.

To stay up to date on the news, check out the Aboriginal Peoples TV network: https://www.aptn.ca/

To learn more about the local treaties between the Mississaugas and the British, read this article from Modern Mississauga.

You can learn more about the Mississaugas of the Credit by exploring their website, which includes a culture and history section.  www.mncfn.ca

Videos

From Reconciliation Canada, a video series from Chief Robert Joseph using traditional teachings to explore how to manage life during the pandemic.

https://reconciliationcanada.ca/category/video/

For local history, this video from Heritage Mississauga looks at Treaties 22 and 23 (UCM sits on Treaty 22 land).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rE7SqDVL730&t=418s

Multimedia ways to explore the tragic life of Chanie Wenjack as told by Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip at www.secretpath.ca

Books

20 Books about Residential Schools for Young Readers by Indigenous Writers

The Reason You Walk by Wab Kinew.  A memoir of ancestry, residential schools and healing.

The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King.  A political and cultural history of indigenous people in Canada.

Legacy: Trauma, Stories and Indigenous Healing by Suzanne Methot. Looks at the legacy of intergenerational trauma and ways to heal.

All our Relations:  Finding the Path Forward by Tanya Talaga.  Explores the high rates of suicide among indigenous youth and the resistance and resilience responding to the crisis.

One Drum by Richard Wagamese.  A gift of traditional Ojibway teachings that was Wagamese’s final, incomplete manuscript.

 

Our Social Responsibility Committee meets regularly.  Check the calendar for the next meeting,

There are many ways that UCM acts for a better world.  Join in!

Check out our Calendar

Our community has a long tradition of working for equality, inclusion, peace and justice.  Our aspiration is to transform of ourselves, our congregation, and the world around us into a place of greater compassion and justice.

As a member congregation of the Canadian Unitarian Council, we are committed to work with members of the indigenous community on Truth and Reconciliation.  We are on the path towards reconciliation and we are in the process of consciousness raising.    Check the calendar for Reconciliation events throughout the year.

In 2018, the congregation aims to become a Green Sanctuary.   This is a major project aims to assess and address our impact on the environment as a congregation and individuals.  UCM will engage with the broader community to bring about meaningful change to protect our beautiful earth.

Our Social Responsibility Committee meets regularly.  Check the calendar for the next meeting,

There are many ways that UCM acts for a better world.  Join in!

Check out our Calendar

TESTIMONIALS

  • UCM is a diverse and multicultural community of individuals ‘who are guided by compassion, reason and love on an individual search for truth and meaning’. “we collaboratively try to make sense of the world around us”

    David Armani
  • For Marc, Unitarian Universalism aligned much more closely with his views on life than the Catholicism of his youth, and gave him a community of people with whom to struggle with how to act justly in the world.

    Marc Xuereb
  • I love the great variety of people and opinions that can be found at UCM. I love that it's a safe space to engage in dialogue about things you might steer away from other places...

    Kristen

 

We covenant to affirm and promote
Individual and communal action that accountably dismantles racism and
other oppressions in ourselves and in our institutions

COMING EVENTS

24May

UCM Bridge Group

Friday, The Unitarian Congregation in Mississauga
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Philosophy & Beliefs

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27May

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Monday, The Unitarian Congregation in Mississauga
31May

UCM Bridge Group

Friday, The Unitarian Congregation in Mississauga
02Jun

Flower Ceremony: Shaping Our Past, Present, and Future

Sunday, The Unitarian Congregation in Mississauga
03Jun

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Unitarian Congregation in Mississauga

84 South Service Road
Mississauga, ON
L5G 2R9
905-278-5622
info@uucm.ca