Responding to current Black Lives Matter protests
"Unitarians recognise the worth and dignity of all people, and one of our objectives as a movement is "the service of humanity". We support human equality and oppose racism. We stand for the values of tolerance and inclusivity.
Many of us have been deeply shocked and saddened by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and stand in solidarity with those seeking justice. Additionally, we recognise the many killings of Black and Brown people in the UK who have been victims of racial injustice and systemic systems of oppression and grieve with their families. As a faith community committed to equality, we are deeply concerned by the disparities suffered by people of colour in all aspects of our society: our education systems, housing, health, immigration, economics, policing and employment.
We passionately condemn all forms of racism and discrimination. We continue to educate ourselves in this endeavour, listening to the voices of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ protesters and examining our privileges for ways we perpetuate system injustice.
We are aware that like many organisations in the UK, historically, some of our income was derived from slavery and racial exploitation, and many individual congregations are beginning the process of revisiting our past, understanding our present position and accepting that our forebears were not always who we might want them to be.
Today, we seek to follow those Unitarian forebears who believed in the worth and dignity of every person and fought for the abolition of slavery. Today, we seek to understand through open and respectful discussion how we can work towards a future without racism or racial privilege.
We note that in 1963 we urged the government to enact its Racial Discrimination Bill No. 57, recognising the discrimination suffered on the grounds of colour, race or religion in accommodation, employment, and entertainment. We note in 1965, by emergency resolution, the problems of racial prejudice on these British Isles. We note in 1971 another resolution sent to High Court of Parliament requesting amendments to the Immigration Bill that enacted indignities, denying basic human rights on immigrants. In 1978 we resolved as a faith group to ‘resist all attempts at fomenting and exacerbating racial hatred' and in 1983 resolved to become ourselves ‘reflective of the multiracial and multicultural society in Britain today.’ In 2017 we called upon the government to ‘Cease the practice of using obscure technical issues to deport people who have long been fully integrated into British families.’ It feels a long time that Unitarians have been asking for equality of opportunity for people of colour in the UK. We acknowledge that there is more that must be done if true equality is to be achieved.
GA staff are proud to support the online event ‘Let’s Talk About Race’ hosted by Rev Winnie Gordon and Rev Kate Dean, as a space to explore some of these issues as a community."
Thanks to Louise Reeve (Newcastle), Rev Cody Coyne (Cross Street, Manchester) and Rev Winnie Gordon (Birmingham and Kidderminster) for their help in drafting this statement.