Ok, remember when I said that I thought gay rights was a lot simpler than race relations?
This thing with the GA is a good example of why.
In my application for YRUU leader at my church, I was asked if I could be an enthusiastic advocate for YRUU. Feeling honest, I said that I thought I could do a great job advocating local YRUU, but I had big doubts about YRUU at a national level. I get this we can solve racism, but we can't get along with adults vibe that makes them seem like, well, a bunch of kids. I want them to be more.
My application was accepted, but yesterday I got an email from the youth leader, attaching the UUA's statement and saying "this is why it's important we continue to work on race issues."
Actually, I think this fuss indicates some very strange priorities on the part of the UUA.
First of all, as I told her, my issue is with YRUU's methods, not its goal. Eradicating racism has no greater fan than me.
But as far as the incidents described in the UUA statement are concerned, anyone who reads this blog knows that my husband was mistaken for a store employee just last week.
I surmised then that it was about his polo shirt or his knowledge of fish. Never occurred to me that it would be about race. I mean, of course not. He's white. The incident was only even worth writing about because the guy in the store also assumed he was gay and I found myself moving in on the both of them like one intent on protecting her property. I found my own instinctual behavior amusing.
So my husband is assumed to sell tropical fish because he's standing in the fish section and everyone just thinks it's funny but if people assume a kid standing outside a hotel is a bellhop, that's racism of such a degree that a national organization needs to craft a formal response?
And with the incident with kids hanging around outside the closing ceremonies, I find myself asking, since they WERE a part of GA, why weren't they IN the ceremony? It does sound like it got completely out of hand, but I find myself wondering if it didn't start with a bunch of kids in a group outside a formal ceremony getting louder than they realize they are getting. Teenagers do that, especially hyperactive teenagers of the sort inclined to skip ceremonies. I can recall being in loud and silly groups of kids, groups that were ultimately kicked out of someplace, several times from my own teen years. Admittedly, it was shopping malls and restaurants, but one would think loud and silly groups of kids would be far less out of place there than outside a formal ceremony.
Again, it got out of hand and it sounds like both sides behaved inappropriately. But was the minister really so upset because they were people of color? Or was the minister upset because GA is a huge emotional deal for a lot of people and he/she thought they were being disrespectful in some way?
I find myself sounding like my mother, who upon hearing my self-righteous complaints about how my right to giggle in the mall was violated, would invariably ask "what did you do to bring it on yourself?" Is this question appropriate here? I don't know. But I learned an awful lot by answering it myself.
So far, this UUA response has generated responses of "oh how awful" and some neutral responses, but I think the statement raises the question of how sensitive we want to be. The statement implies that some other things happened involving non-UUs that may have been more significant. If so, by all means, the UUA should have at it.
But it seems to me that there is no way we should be making such a big deal over the incidents described. I find myself irritated that The Blue Chalice accuses Sinkford of mentioning the Latino contribution to American society only under pressure since it was mentioned in the closing ceremonies rather than earlier. Are we THAT determined to think the worst of one another? I'm sorry, has Sinkford in any way been shown to have a problem with Latinos? If not, maybe it's more appropriate to cut Sinkford one inch of the slack that Enrique cuts the Mexican government's "We didn't mean to be racist, so it can't be racist" response to the stamp issue in his previous post.
Yes, we should be good to each other.
Yes, GA should be a place where people of all colors can feel comfortable.
Yes, we should set an example.
But I think we've gone WAY overboard here.