New Definition of Doing For White People

One of the things I’ve noticed about white people beginning to get more serious about dismantling racism, and beginning to see things they’ve never seen before, is that they invariably want to DO SOMETHING(!).  We feel the urgency.  Right away.  Now.

So first, let me thank you for your commitment to awakening, for your outrage, for your curiosity, and for your wish to be a part of moving our culture toward equity.

From there, the next notably uncomfortable task is learning a different definition of doing.   Most of us, as a result of our socialization into whiteness, have been taught to focus on what needs to be changed in others – other individuals and other organizations.  As a result, we head out to protest, march, advocate, speak up at community meetings, write letters, and more.  We step into Black/Indigenous/People of Color (BIPOC) communities, and interject our well-intentioned knowledge and goals into the healing process.

We are taught to create a task list, with each item to be checked off as quickly and efficiently as we can.  Speed is good.  Check marks are good.  And then we’ve arrived.  We’re certified.  And we can assume ourselves to be good white people, doing our part.  That kind of doing, of course, is indeed a part of the formula for change.  But … oops.  Not so fast.

The new definition of doing that we are asking you to consider is to engage in learning to be a different way with each other.  We are asking you to do the things that help you live antiracist.  To be in the world in a way that dismantles white supremacy culture, one molecule at a time.  We’re asking you, and us, to change ourselves.

As I’ve listened to white antiracism activists that I have come to respect – especially those working on a national level – I’ve heard them report a common experience in their journeys through this work.  Each one of them have reported this.  As they have worked shoulder to shoulder with BIPOC, and earned their friendship and trust, the BIPOC have ultimately expressed their gratitude – and then asked them to turn around and go back to their white communities to teach those communities about being white, and about white supremacy culture.  “Please.  Go do your own work.”  It’s what we are being asked to do by the experts – BIPOC.

So I invite all of us to DO the hard work of becoming familiar with our own racial identity, with the dynamics of white privilege and fragility, and with the concept of white supremacy culture.  Learn how our own organization is steeped in this culture, and how we can reshape it.

One of “the hardest parts of waking up is beginning to see our own complicity” – Gloria Steinem

I invite you to join this difficult, necessary and rewarding conversation.

May all beings be safe,
Carolyn Heineman

Invitation to Participate in Online Groups for Black UUs and UUs of Color

The Multicultural Outreach Ministry at the First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Ann Arbor is meeting virtually until at least January 2021 and extends an invitation to all Black UUs and UUs of Color who attend Michigan churches to participate in their programs. There are two separate groups, one for Black UUs and one for all People of Color. Their programs include online worship services, virtual potlucks, discussion groups, and pastoral care specifically for People of Color.

For more information or to be connected to this program, contact Rev. Rachel (

One Response to Race Matters

  1. Generic Login says:

    Thanks for this update. I really appreciate your sensitivity and way of facilitating the antiracism discussion and plan to attend in October as well. Emily B.

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