Over my 20 years in DRUUMM, it has always been one of those rare places where I feel the fullness of myself nurtured and reflected back in community. I made the choice as a youth to always strive to be part of an anti-racist collective, that centers the experiences of those most impacted by oppression, healing from generational trauma, and learning new ways to create change. I sought and found a home where I could act and reflect in the context of racial and social justice.
As an all-volunteer organization, one that has seen some of our greatest visions institutionalized by the UUA and sister organizations, and has also experienced the steady decentering of People of Color collective leadership in our faith’s transformation efforts, we are at a broad crossroad. Over the last year we have evaluated our mission, reaffirmed our values, and established new goals that we believe are within reach given our capacity.
DRUUMM continues to affirm and promote collective action and accountability with UU People of Color, and we will do our best to support those in our community who have the vision and energy to organize. Over the next year, we will be developing new ways for UU People of Color to come together and foster community both in-person and online. We also will continue to build on our Call to Renewal, to center collective UU People of Color voices in the Journey Towards Wholeness work.
We face a spiritual and political moment with some real challenges. In addition to limited resources due to UUA cutbacks over the last 8 years, we also work in a UU world that has struggled with either/or thinking around racial justice work. Specifically, the notion that the Journey Towards Wholeness Resolution could be achieved purely through a shift from program to ethos, has alone not fostered the accountable and cultural change we need. Institutional change needs a range of coordinated strategies, flexibility to adapt, and require a disciplined and democratic process that align with our religious values. We have a strong history to draw from, and looking ahead we will need renewed leadership from the UUA President and each of our congregations if we are to create a loving, justice centered and spiritually alive faith.
I encourage UU People of Color to come together in your congregations and regions. I encourage UU organizations to prioritize space and resources for UU People of Color in your public gatherings. I encourage the UUA through the Journey Towards Wholeness Transformation Committee to establish, publicize and annually evaluate progress towards change goals. Locally, this can look like the minister ensuring the congregation maintains an opt-in list of UU People of Color, and convening a listening session, and the DRE hosting a multiracial families forum. Adult RE can offer an annual Jubilee Training introducing members to intersectional racial justice work. Boards should regularly have on their agenda how race relations are, among other dynamics.
I am excited about DRUUMM’s expanding leadership, with a vibrant and energizing Steering Committee and growing number of members across our faith. I will be ending my 2 year term as President in June, and thrilled to see a strong pipeline re-established with an intergenerational core of leadership. Let us know how you’re doing, how we can connect you to resources, and how we can organize together. We will always do the best we can, and with your support, continue to strengthen our capacity to realize our vision of a healing and transformative faith.
Rev. Joseph Santos-Lyons