UUSJ Newsletter - Fall 2015
Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice
An affiliate of the Chicago Area Unitarian Universalist Council
Andrew T. Fisher, Editor & Communications Director
1448 East 52nd Street, PM Box 144
Chicago, IL 60615
Phone: 773-595-4921 / E-mail: uusj@sbcglobal.net
Web site: http://uusforsocialjustice.org/

UUSJ annual meeting
December 6th, People’s Church
941 W. Lawrence, Chicago, IL  60640 from 2 to 5

Chair’s Corner:
It is with personal regret but warm wishes that I announce that AJ Segneri has stepped down from the Chair position at UUSJ as he has moved away from the Chicagoland area. We will miss him but are happy in the knowledge that he will continue his social justice work from his hometown of Sterling, Illinois. Thanks to AJ for his service to our organization. We will continue on with honor and integrity to promote social justice in the UU community of the greater Chicagoland area.

Karen Kortsch kkortsch@aol.com

Each UUSJ task force report is written independently, and only represents the views and opinions of the task force submitting the report.   Individual task force reports do not reflect the overall view of UUSJ or of its Board.

UUSJ Economic Justice and Homelessness Task Force Report

The task force again, for 2015, updated the Chicago and Suburban Chicago versions of the “If YOU or Someone You Know Need Help” resource sheets.  These were distributed to about 90 UU church offices, non-profit organizations, and social workers in July, 2015.  If you know of an organization or social worker who might like to get our distribution list to have updated versions of these resource sheets sent them each year, let the Chair of this task force know.
       Our last Action Alert was in support of the 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act, which was introduced this past spring by Sen. Warren and McCain.  It has only picked up one or two Senate co-sponsors since our Action Alert and would need significantly more than the seven or eight that it has currently to cause the applicable Senate Committee to consider it.  At our Oct. 3 task force meeting the task force approved an Action Alert in support of IL Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment #1, which if sent to the voters and approved by them would remove the prohibition on Illinois having a progressive income tax on its individuals and corporations.  That Action Alert will be initiated this month.
       At its July meeting the task force approved the nomination of the Hyde Park Transitional Housing Project (HPTHP), nominated on behalf of the Social Justice Council at First Unitarian Church of Chicago, to receive the current Home and Hope Booster grant.  HPTHP provides housing in market rate apartments, plus weekly mentoring, for up to two years, while formerly homeless families with a connection to the mid-southeast side of Chicago work on improving the education and skills to become more economically independent, while working to reduce their debts and receive therapy if needed   The money collected for that grant will only amount to $320, as the number of pledgers supporting those semi-annual grants has declined.  A campaign to attract additional pledgers will occur over the next two months.  If the number of pledgers does not significantly increase this grant program is likely to be terminated after the next grant, for which nomination are due by January 7, 2016.
       The First Unitarian Church of Chicago has assisted HPTHP since its inception in 2002.  It has continuously had members on the HPTHP Board of Directors.  The organization’s Treasurer is a member of First Unitarian Church.  Until June 30, 2014, another member of First Unitarian Church served on the HPTHP Board for 12 years, six years as Treasurer, and then another six as Trustee for Fundraising.  That former Board member still assists with the organization’s major annual fundraiser, and also with mentor training and furniture moving.  About a dozen members of the church regularly contribute to HPTHP and eight members of the church attended the most recent annual fundraiser.  During April to June, 2015 First Unitarian Church held a special collection for HPTHP, which raised over $1,700, which was donated to HPTHP in June, 2015.
       Volunteer time totaled about 200 hours in the last year, an average of 10 hours a month by the Treasurer, plus 80 hours by the former Board member, 50 hours in direct service and 30 hours in meeting with and mentoring new Trustee for Fundraising volunteers (one did not last long, so a second had to be mentored).  As far as contributions, First Unitarian Church raised over $1,700 in a special collection (monthly for three months) in the April to June, 2015 quarter.  Direct giving by First Unitarian Church members who give regularly to HPTHP amounted to about another $2,500, or over $4,000 for the year from First Unitarian Church members.
       We thank the Hyde Park Transitional Housing Project for their continued work on behalf of the homeless, and thank First Unitarian Church of Chicago for their continued financial and volunteer support of that organization.
       Members of this task force have been involved with multiple demonstrations, largely targeting the Governor, regarding the lack of agreement on a 2015-16 budget for the State of Illinois.  Task force member Gene Horcher has been arrested more than once in connection with such demonstrations.
       In connection with the UUA’s Congregational Study Action Issue on Growing Income Inequality, the UU Just Economic Community website has materials for multiple types of courses on the subject.  We encourage you to check them out and consider hosting one of the courses at your congregation.
       The next meeting of this task force has been scheduled for January 9, 2016, from 12:30 to 2 p.m.  It will be held at the Unitarian Church of Evanston, providing there is space for us to hold the meeting there, which is probable.
           
Allan Lindrup, task force Chair, 773-595-4921, uusj@sbcglobal.net

 

UUSJ Peace Task Force Report

       The UUSJ Peace Task Force provided the program for the group’s quarterly meeting on September 12 at North Shore Unitarian Church in Deerfield.  Speaker Michael Lynn from Chicago Area Peace Action (CAPA) gave an insightful presentation into the current situation in Iran and presented his views on the nuclear negotiations that were just concluded there.

Michael encouraged everyone to contact their US Senators and Representatives and urge them to support the recently concluded treaty without modifications or amendments.  According to Michael, some opponents are trying to scuttle the agreement by using various parliamentary subterfuges and revisionist language.  This should be avoided, he said.

The Peace Task Force held their most recent meeting on October 3.  At the meeting they organized a quarterly church bulletin that will let congregants know about peace-related activities in their area.  They also set the date for their next meeting, which will be Saturday, January 9 at 2pm at the Unitarian Church of Evanston.  They aim to release the first information sheet in February.

The task force also leafletted at Chicago’s International Day of Peace celebrations on Friday, Sept 18.  The group distributed flyers at Daley Plaza supporting more federal spending on social programs (and less spending on the military).  They also passed out information on the Iran nuclear deal, encouraging folks to reach their US representatives through the Capitol Hill switchboard and voice support for the treaty.

The Peace Task Force is encouraged that many local congregations observed the International Day of Peace at Sunday services in September, and they’re working to increase participation and interest in peace issues in our area churches.

Jane Bannor – Chair, 773-274-6387 or jbannor@sbcglobal.net

 


UUSJ Prisons and Restorative Justice Task Force Report

The Task Force received a planning grant from the Unitarian Universalist Funding Program in May for our Prison Ministry Initiative. The three main goals are: 1. Build congregational commitment in all Chicago area UU churches to welcome people returning from incarceration.
2. Engage formerly incarcerated people and UU church members in activities to support social justice and systemic change, in collaboration with other organizations including Community Renewal Society, UUANI, FORCE, and the Visible Voices group of Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers. FORCE and Visible Voices are led by formerly incarcerated men and women, respectively.
3. Establish worship services by a part-time pastor and trained UU worship associates inside one men’s prison and one women’s prison in Illinois beginning in July 2016. Establish monthly covenant groups in both prisons.
The initiative’s working group includes members of Unitarian Church of Evanston, Second Unitarian, and Beverly Unitarian Church. We are meeting with members of Unity, First, Hinsdale, Third, and People’s Church.  We need to establish liaisons with Northshore Unitarian, Countryside Unitarian, DuPage UU Church, and Joliet UU Church. Interested members should contact Gail Smith at gailtsmith@gmail.com or 773-396-4998.
One of the most difficult tasks ahead is to raise funds to hire a part-time minister. We welcome your support and your ideas. Three members of the working group will attend a fundraising workshop in Massachusetts in late October through scholarships from the Unitarian Universalist Funding Program. We are seeking donations to assist us with airfare and ground travel. Our curriculum subcommittee met in September and we are drafting an initial plan for activities inside the prisons.
       To prepare congregations for this ministry, we will present educational forums at UU churches and will publicize opportunities to learn about the prison system, reentry, and systemic injustice. In June, 63 people attended a forum at Unitarian Church of Evanston on the Foster Care


Charity Tolliver

to Prison Pipeline featuring Charity Tolliver of Black on Both Sides, with video of Michelle Alexander and Dorothy Roberts. We explored the racist underpinnings of mass incarceration and the foster care system. The forum received glowing evaluations. Several events well worth attending if you care about people affected by mass incarceration are coming up soon:
Prison Industrial Complex 101 October 10, 9:00 a.m.  Beverly Unitarian Church

There will be a workshop on the prison industrial complex (PIC), of which mass incarceration is an integral part, on Saturday, October 10, 2015, at 9:00 a.m.  This includes an introduction to the PIC from an abolitionist perspective. Abolition means the replacement of the current, unjust system with a system that is just and equitable. We'll examine the PIC's roots, reach, and impact on our lives, as well as our ability to transform it. It’s easy to feel helpless in the face of the racial injustice in our society. This is an opportunity to learn and reflect on what we can do to change it. If you have questions, please contact Marcia Curtis at 312-431-0381, or marciacurtis6@gmail.com
Adler Institute Reentry Simulation

Three dates to choose from: Thursday, October 8th from 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m., Wednesday, October 21, 6:00 -9:00 p.m., and Monday, November 9, from 1:30-4:30 p.m. Location: Institute on Social Exclusion, Adler School of Professional Psychology, 17 N. Dearborn, Chicago, IL 60602. This is an extremely well-designed and effective introduction to the barriers people face coming home from prison. It includes a speaker who has navigated community reentry after incarceration. Contact Sherri Boyle at SBoyle@adler.edu or 312-662-4012, to register. The cost is $50 (non-profit rate) and they give continuing education credit in psychology.

 

UUSJ Environmental Task Force Report

The UUSJ Environmental Task Force issued an Action Alert in August.  It was to Illinois Governor Rauner.  It urges him to support President Obama’s new national Clean Power Plan.  This plan requires a cut in carbon emissions by 32 percent below the 2005 levels from power plants by year 2030.  The AA urges Rauner to start with the old power plants for a substantial reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. 

We issued one environmental educational insert titled “Low Impact Challenge” in August.   Another is for future distribution regarding the pollution from processing bamboo.

Recent environmental UU congregational activity: First Unitarian Church of Chicago is working on the installation of a high speed dishwasher. This has cost over $4,000, so members of the congregation can use permanent mugs, plates etc.  Second Unitarian is reorganizing.  Their Social Action committee wants to concentrate on more environmental issues, particularly fracking.  They have identified a point person.  Unitarian Church of Evanston   is continuing to compost and to recycle.  The green sanctuary committee did an event with DIVVY bikes – the blue bikes at many stations – mostly in Chicago – you can ride from one station to another on.    Beverly’s active green sanctuary committee continues to collect electronics and hazardous waste for recycling and proper disposal.

Our next meeting is October 25, 2:15 at Native Food, 218 S. Clark, Chicago.

Andrew Fisher – Chair
847-492-1832 or fishorgn1580@gmail.com

 

Unitarian Universalist Multiracial Unity Action Caucus (UUMUAC) Report

“The Unity of the Light and Dark Skinned People of the World.

Unitarian Universalist Multiracial Unity Action Caucus Report
by Rev. Dr. Finley C. Campbell, co-chair, the Executive Committee

The following reports represent some of the activities of UUMUAC and its members since our last quarterly meeting:

1. Building UUMUAC in Nairobi, Kenya, by Dr. Taye Woldesmiate, PhD

My last trip was from Chicago to Nairobi in Kenya.   I left from Chicago on about the 12th of June and arrived at Nairobi on, I think, the 13th.  Nairobi was the first stop on my journey. There I met with several previous contacts from the émigré and native community, some of whom were friends of mine from Ethiopia. Thus far we continue to spend a lot of time discussing various aspects of racism in Kenya, where it goes by the name of tribalism or ethnic rivalries. A recent election created racial tensions.  The struggle to build multiracial Unitarian Universalist consciousness is a tough struggle, but I am making much progress with this small group of people, some of whom have also expressed interest in Unitarian Universalism as a religion.

The main focus of my visits is to examine how a racist imperialist system reflects neo-racist aspects. For example, Chinese capitalists (who call themselves communists) are making a lot of investments in the area. To illustrate, Chinese business men have created economic enclaves within Kenya but only hire Chinese, recruited from the mainland.  Thousands of Chinese are coming into East Africa as settlers, but often look with contempt on black Kenyans.
I tried again to go to Sudan, but the civil war situation was too dangerous.

To conclude: while I am not progressing as fast as I had hoped in building a UUMUAC group in Nairobi, I have made many contacts and will continue my visits to the area. They have shown a lot of interest shown in Unitarian Universalism itself. Next time I should include more pamphlets along with the UUMUAC documents, with my materials. I would like to give a special thanks to UUMUAC and the financial sponsors of these trips for their support. Multiracial unity is needed in Africa and indeed around the world more than ever.              Note:  I am available to do limited speaking engagements at the normal fee for such an endeavor.  You may reach me through the UUMUAC

2.   A major educational event sponsored by UUMUAC was the First Forum on Religionistic Racism in India, a presentation by Brother Srinivasa Rao Battini of Andhra Pradesh, India.  I define religionistic racism as the use of religious differences to stigmatize adherents with such intense hatred and fear that the religious groups are seen as different races, even though they may look similar.  He was recommended by UUMUAC member Dr. Allan Spector because of Brother Battini’s activities as a community service worker on behalf of “Secular Democracy” and religious peace.  Allan Spector met him in person last year. He took part in a series of meetings and seminars on the subject of “Religion, Unity and Peace” in the US under our general auspices. 

Brother Battini spoke at the Brooklyn UU church and was a member of our UUMUAC team at the International Solidarity meeting held in New York, where he made a presentation on religionistic racism in India.  He also spoke at a UU meeting in Los Angeles.  However, the climax of his visit was a major appearance on Sunday, August 23, 2015, at the First Unitarian Church of Chicago. 

In his presentation, he described his work in promoting peace between Hindus, Muslims, and Christians in India and opposition to the violence and extremism generated by political parties who manipulate religious differences for profit, privilege, and power.  He singled out the neo-fascist group, the BJP, the Hindu Nationalist Party of India, as a central force in this process.  He pointed out how these religious differences were the basis of the caste system and the rigid formal nature of an apartheid like separation of the castes, on the one level, and yet the need for some economic interaction on the other.  He made especially references to the Dalits, who were once called under British rule the Negroes of India, but who are known in the West as the so-called Untouchables.

However, Brother Battini held out great hope that a multiracial approach to religionistic racism would offer, in part, a solution to the neo-racist turmoil, which he saw as an international phenomenon.  His lecture was followed by discussion, question, and comments.  Some 24 people attended the presentation.   

3.  UUMUAC members at UUAGA Portland.   Three UUMUAC members attended the General Assembly: Finley C. Campbell, that’s me, from First U Chicago, Dwayne Matthews from Heartland UU Fellowship in Indianapolis, Indiana, and Derek Pearl from the Brooklyn UU Church.  As usual there was a great deal of activities to get involved in.  Derek, a white member, found himself in a couple of neo-racist workshops.  In one, he was demeaned for being a white male, and he felt too intimidated to respond.  I got on his case about allowing anti-white racism, a clever form of anti-black racism, to go unchallenged.  So at the next workshop, when the same attack was made, he fought back, by chanting Asian Latin Black Red White, Immigrant and Citizen, we must unite. 

Brother Matthew opposed an attempt at another neo-racist workshop to have people identify themselves by their race.  He argued that we should all see ourselves as being of one race, the human race and as having mixed racial backgrounds. 

I decided not to attend these kinds of workshops, focusing instead on one on one conversations with scores of people, including a former executive secretary of the UUA Board of Trustees.  Dwayne and I also set up a series of  impromptu literature tables.  We distributed over 81 UUMUAC brochures, 15 QuickBooks called THE NATURE OF NEORACISM and a smaller number of another Quick Book called The Columbiad: Five Hundred Years of Resistance, both written by me.  We also distributed 150 flyers attacking Dr. Cornel West’s theory that white racism preceded capitalism and attacking his defense of Dr. William Cosby, an outstanding example of a neo-racist African – American leader. Dr. Cosby argues that that lower class black folks deserved their fate and should be abandoned by the African American upper class.  We also passed out a smaller number of leaflets proving that the top leadership; of the Black Lives Matter movement are agents of ruling class foundations. I argued that if the UUAGA endorses the BLM Movement, it would intensify the neo-racist division in our Associations of Congregations.  Lastly, we passed out a small number of modified button which listed both white and black victims of racist police misconduct.

Our key UUMUAC event was having our own forum, following the Ware Lecture by Dr. Cornel West.  We met with about nine people to discuss the pros and cons of his speech, specifically his assertion that white supremacy was still the main form of racism during this time period. 

Lastly, encouraged by Dwayne Matthew, I spoke out at the last plenary session against the resolution endorsing the Black lives Matter movement, especially when it became clear to me that the proponents had the agenda of seeking to revive the black power movement, one of the most neo-racist events in our history.  It was this movement, which led to the split in the UUA back in the 1967 – 72 period, and which destroyed the racial integration movement developed by the Civil Rights Struggle and caused racial divisions in our Association. 

It was clear that the leadership of the plenary session was determined to ramrod the resolution through, given the bias of Mr. Key, the moderator.  He kept insisting implicitly that we should support the resolution because scores of young people authored it.  In addition, one of the African American leaders of the BLM caucus successfully used emotional black mail in the struggle.  She threatened to walk out with her friends if we tried to amend the resolution with practical suggestions.  This led to an emotional moment, during which time Mr. Key called on the chaplains to use their skills to decompress us from the emotions unleashed by the debate.  Instead, one of the chaplain’s, who called herself the only person of color in the UUAGA chaplaincy program, used the moment to plead for the passage of the resolution without further debate. 

Well, that was the last straw: I got up and went to the con mike, the only one to do so, and in the spirit of multiracial Unitarian Universalism, made the following statement, and I paraphrase: It is with a heavy heart that I must oppose this resolution.  Having lived for over 80 years in this struggle, I am convinced that this is a neo-racist movement.  The following black lives do not matter to me: Colin Powell, Eric Holder, Dr. William Cosby, Dr. Cornell West, and President Barack Obama.  But Inuit lives matter in Greenland, suffering from climate change; Mexican immigrant lives matter struggling to get in the US, black workers who are being brutalized by the system lives matter, Native American lives matter, killing themselves in the oppressed conditions of the Pine Ridge Reservation, and white workers lives matter, dying of black lung disease in the hills of Appalachia.   Then I ended by saying: working class lives matter. I did receive some applause for this stance.

At any rate the vote went through, the majority of the delegates chanted black lives matter over and over again, except the about 700 people out of the 4800 present who voted along with me against the resolution.

4. UUMUAC members Dwayne Matthew and Brent Taylor took part in the Ferguson demonstrations in Missouri in August 2015 as a part of a coalition of youth and young adults of all races.  And Brent also participated in the Black Lives Matter Conference held at Cleveland State University also in August.  Brent was a part of a multiracial group, which was eventually forced off campus by the BLM militants, but not before they were able to raise the ideas of multiracial unity.  Later they regrouped at a black church dealing with the victims of police brutalism, which was run by a community group committed to multiracial unity, and they were heartily welcomed.

 5. Two UUMUAC members attended with me the 50th anniversary convention of the US Progressive Workers Movement Educational Foundation where we put forward the line about how racism hurts all of us in the rank and file, including white workers.  The delegates accepted this position enthusiastically.

       To conclude: until the Beloved Community is established as a global, historic reality, the multiracial struggle against racist evils will continue to exist.  So, a major step in creating such a community is to oppose racism in all its forms with multiracial Unitarian Universalism: this UUMUAC is striving to do within and beyond Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice.  For more information on how to join us, contact us at:

Unitarian Universalist Multiracial Unity Action Caucus
c/o UUs for Social Justice
1448 E. 52nd St., Box 144, Chicago, IL 60615

finleycampbell5222@comcast.net