Unity Antiracism Literacy Partners Ask: What? When? Where in the World?
Shelley Butler, Beloved Community Communications and Antiracism Literacy Partners (ALP) Teams
With a swift end to the conflict in Israel and Gaza nowhere in sight (not to mention other violence around the world and in our own neighborhood), if you’re like me, then you’re having trouble saying, “Happy New Year,” to friends and family. I found myself wishing people a “more peaceful” or “happier” new year and receiving similar sentiments. Since October 7, 2023, I have been reading, watching, listening, debating, and learning about Israel, Hamas, Palestine, and the 17.37 sq. mile Gaza Strip, as I suspect have most of us. The question that often calls us to action looms: What can I do?
An article by Rabbi Emily Cohen stood out to me, and her words have become my mantra, “I will not lose my compassion for all: Israeli and Palestinian, Arab and Jew. I have found myself for these last weeks living in the ‘and,’ and I want to invite you to live there with me.” We, on the Antiracism Literacy Partners (ALP) Team, invite you to live in the “and” with fellow Unity congregants by delving into questions more deeply in small group spiritual practice.
So, what does that mean exactly? Join us on Tuesday, January 9, 2024, at 7:00pm on Zoom (register here) to find out more about the new resource being offered, “We Cannot Turn Away: Engaging on Israel and Palestine.” Then, you will be able to sign up for a small group to discuss these four questions:
You’ve likely watched unspeakable violence unfold; heard phrases like “from the river to the sea” and “settler colonialism”; wondered about the difference between Jews and Zionists, and the difference between Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Palestinian Authority; been informed about antisemitic and Islamophobic harassment and violence; been surprised to find trusted leaders, groups, and organizations siding with Israelis or Palestinians; and felt perplexed by sorting out right from wrong when both sides are engaged in war crimes. News outlets and especially social media abound in information and misinformation, understanding and misunderstanding. There is much to sort out.
The ALP program can’t promise to answer all the questions, but we do offer a starting point. Unlike most other ALP groups, we’ll offer you a resource guide with articles, news stories, UUA statements, links to short films and podcasts, and as always, recommendations to learn more, instead of a single book or podcast. Rather than choosing sides, we encourage you to enter with an open heart and mind into the complexity of the 3000-year history of the area; how our faith is responding; and thoughts on where we might go from here, including building bridges in time of war. Several of the resources provided, as well as a guide to “key terms,” have been provided by the UUA for just this purpose of congregations engaging on Israel and Palestine.
As we start this new year that seems so filled with uncertainty, I’d like to offer you the blessing given me by a fellow BC Communications Team member, “May the New Year bring you and all of us new challenges and a good measure of joy.”
The Antiracism Literacy Partners (ALP) program is a group spiritual practice that seeks to embody the values, mission, and ends of Unity Church; and specifically, this ends statement: Create brave space for racial healing and dismantling dominant culture. Learn more about the Antiracism Literacy Partners program, and the five resources offered in the January session. Contact ALP Team Leader Becky Gonzalez-Campoy with questions: email@example.com.
Beloved Community Resources
Unity Justice Database
Team Dynamics House of Intersectionality
Anti-Racism Resources in the Unity Libraries Collection
Creative Writers of Color in Unity Libraries
The History of Race Relations and Unity Church, 1850-2005
Beloved Community Staff Team
The Beloved Community Staff Team (BCST) strengthens and coordinates Unity’s antiracism and multicultural work, and provides opportunities for congregants and the church to grow into greater intercultural competency. We help the congregation ground itself in the understanding of antiracism and multiculturalism as a core part of faith formation. We support Unity’s efforts to expand our collective capacity to imagine and build the Beloved Community. Here, we share the stories of this journey — the struggles, the questions, and the collaborations — both at Unity and in the wider world.
The current members of the Beloved Community Staff Team include Rev. Kathleen Rolenz, Rev. KP Hong, Rev. Lara Cowtan, Barbara Hubbard, Drew Danielson, Laura Park, Lia Rivamonte and Angela Wilcox.