Philocrites alerted us to the article written by Nancy Glass of Religion News Service picked up by the Charlotte Observer today. I never heard of Religious News Service, but John Hurley at the UUA (Spokesperson) told me it is the largest and most widely distributed news wire for religion. The AP of religious news. Here is the text in case you don’t want to register your personal information to see the article:
|Posted on Sat, Jul. 16, 2005|
Unitarian board apologizes
Religion News Service
The board of the Unitarian Universalist Association has apologized for incidents involving "apparently disrespectful and racist treatment" of youth delegates at the annual meeting in Fort Worth, Texas.
In a letter posted on the denomination’s Web site dated July 6, board secretary Paul Rickter cited reports that on several occasions during the meeting in June, white delegates assumed "UU youth of color were hotel service people."
Rickter said white Unitarians asked the nonwhite Unitarians to carry their bags and park their cars. "Sadly, this was not the first General Assembly to have incidents like these," said Rickter, who is white.
The denomination has a reputation for tolerance and political liberalism. But the UUA board’s letter has set off a debate among Unitarians about underlying racial tension in the mostly white denomination.
"If you’ve been taught to act one way, it’s not that easy to unlearn it just by writing words on paper," said Gregory Boyd, a black Boston University student who attended the meeting.
In his letter, Rickter described a confrontation between an adult delegate and a group of young Unitarians during the meeting’s closing ceremonies. According to the letter, the adult questioned the young people’s right to be there, provoking an angry response.
Boyd witnessed the confrontation, which he called "stressful and disheartening."
Others say the board overreacted by apologizing. At least one witness said it was provoked by three young black delegates who entered the closing ceremony without nametags, ripped up a program and threw other programs on the floor.
Esther Ford, a member of a Unitarian church in Cedar Park, Texas, was one of the ushers who interacted with the young people at the closing ceremony. In an open letter responding to Rickter, she said the youth, not adult church members, were responsible for the incident.
"Mr. Rickter, I have worked with youth for 25 years, and I know when I am being `baited,’ " she wrote. "Believe me, having grown up as a person of color in Texas, I would be the last one to be an apologist for racist behavior. But this was not the case in this … incident."