Ongoing UU reactions to Zimmerman’s acquittal, and more

Last Monday, we published a roundup of early Unitarian Universalist reactions to the acquittal of neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, who admitted killing an unarmed teenager, Trayvon Martin, in February 2012. Since then, UUs have continued responding to the verdict in a variety of ways.

Several UUs write about conversations with their children about what Martin’s death and Zimmerman’s acquittal mean for their children of color, including the Rev. Meg Riley (Huffpost, 7.15.13), the Rev. Dr. Lynn Ungar (Quest for Meaning: A UU Collective, 7.15.13), and MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry, who says:

I have experienced the killing of Trayvon Martin, this trial, and this verdict as a political scientist and television host. But I have also felt it, in my gut, as the parent of a black child. (7.15.13)

Kim Hampton writes, “In America, to love a black man means that one walks around with the knowledge that much of the larger society fears them because of who they are.” (East of Midnight, 7.15.13) In a subsequent post, she observes: “The mistake Trayvon made was to walk down the street after dark . . . in a modern-day ‘sundown town.'” (7.16.13)

The Rev. Josh Pawelek writes:

I tremble for my country because we aren’t treating young black men in a way that is consistent with the teachings, the longings, the vision, the commands and the love of that God[, “who expects us to struggle and fight for justice and to not quit”]. (Hartford Faith & Values, 7.15.13)

Pawelek follows up with a proposal: “Imagine a faith-based revolution with love at its center that offers and sustains a radically new message to America’s Black and Brown youth: You matter.” (Hartford Faith & Values, 7.18.13)

The Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt, whose earlier published meditation about fearing for her black husband’s safety inspired Kim Hampton’s post, endorses Stevie Wonder’s call for a boycott of Florida. (Rev. Rose, 7.16.13)

The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Landrum writes about “stand-your-ground” laws while urging activists to oppose Michigan’s version of the law:

What we’ve basically been slowly instituting in this country is a system of shoot first and ask questions later; a system of bring a gun to a fist fight; and a system where guilt and innocence is decided by who is the fastest, quickest draw. . . . In this system, the innocent person is the one with the gun. The innocent person is the last person standing. (Rev. Cyn, 7.16.13)

The Rev. Jude Geiger writes, “As a white man, I can walk in circles foolishly arguing whether race is a factor for hate and harm in our country, or I can simply pay attention to the world around me.” (HuffPost, 7.17.13)

Will Shetterly takes a class-based look at stand-your-ground laws:

So long as the US’s class system is racially disproportionate, teasing out what’s racism and what’s class-prejudice is difficult, but what’s clear is that stand-your-ground laws favor property owners. (It’s All One Thing, 7.18.13)

The Rev. Tom Schade traces “white privilege” to specific features of the slave economy:

White privilege is not simply that white people were given privileges and benefits that black people were not. It stems also from a system in white people were given authority over black people. (thelivelytradition, 7.17.13)

Massmarrier brainstorms grounds for federal challenges to state stand-your-ground laws. (Marry in Massachusetts, 7.17.13)

The Rev. James Ford reflects on the “casual bigotry which I see [as] the worm at the heart of our culture” (Monkey Mind, 7.15.13).

Peter Bowden follows up on his earlier post about congregations that didn’t address the verdict the next morning in their worship services.

I’m feeling like this is more of a social media lesson than anything else. Those who are active via social media have the tools to better gauge in real time when national/[world] events require an immediate pastoral response. (UU Planet, 7.16.13)

On her Facebook page the Sunday afternoon after the verdict, former UUA Moderator Gini Courter criticized the UUA staff for not publishing responses yet:

Our national silence at this time is another symptom of our institutional disengagement. If we are to be a worthy religious voice for all of our people, we must be able to authentically embrace and address a much wider range of joys, sorrows, failure, pain, and possibility. (Facebook, 7.14.13)

In our first round up of UU responses, we pointed to UUA President Peter Morales’s statement early Monday afternoon. Others followed quickly. In an “open letter to white people,” the Rev. Dr. Monica Cummings, the UUA’s program associate for ministry to youth and young adults of color, writes:

If you’re someone who has avoided thinking about white privilege—the unearned advantages that white people benefit from because of how institutions are set up and how history has unfolded—now is a great time to unstick your head from the sand. If Trayvon Martin had been white, he’d still be alive. (Living Mosaic, 7.15.13)

Tacquiena Boston, UUA director of Multicultural Growth and Witness, writes on the Standing on the Side of Love blog:

Trayvon Martin wasn’t just a victim of a trigger-happy George Zimmerman. Trayvon was a victim of Florida’s bad laws. He was a victim of a society that criminalizes dark skin, criminalizes poverty, and criminalizes youth. (Standing on the Side of Love, 7.15.13)

The Rev. Tom Schade thinks about the differences between ministers’ reactions on social media and the kind of statements religious leaders make in sermons and press releases, and asks:

If you want to know what a UU minister really thinks and feels about an important event, would it make more sense to follow them on Twitter, or come to church on Sunday morning? (thelivelytradition, 7.19.13)

Other conversations

Jason Pitzl-Waters unpacks a Public Religion Research Institute study that shows that the number of religious progressives is rising as the number of religious conservatives is falling. (The Wild Hunt, 7.18.13)

The Rev. Chip Roush reflects on the meaning of a scene in the new movie Frances Ha that takes place in a Unitarian Universalist church. “I couldn’t help but feel that the writers included a scene in a UU congregation to help the viewers understand how bohemian and not-completely-developed Frances is. Her extended adolescence is directly comparable to the un-serious reputation of her faith tradition.” (So May We Be, 7.16.13)

The Rev. Sean Parker Dennison explains how the artist Amanda Palmer has “reinvigorated—resurrected, really—my passion for ministry and my vision of what liberal religious community can be.” (ministrare, 7.18.13)

The Rev. Scott Wells is annoyed that the latest Commission on Appraisal report isn’t available as a free PDF, but is instead available as a $10 ebook. (Boy in the Bands, 7.16.13)