My Anti-Oppression/Anti-Racism Analysis (MFC Paper)

I identify, live
as, and believe I am seen as an able bodied, American, mixed race adopted
Person of Color (Chinese-Czech ethnic descent), male, heterosexual, middle
class, young adult and highly educated person. I am partnered with an immigrant Filipina with two mixed-race young
children. I have committed passionately
to intergenerational, multiracial community building, and aspire to minister in
this way. My Anti-Oppression,
Anti-Racism and Multicultural analysis originates from my personal experience
particularly as a Person of Color in the dominant White Eurocentric UUA, and
from years of education, relationship building and study.

When I was a child,
I lived in a nearly all-White environment. Race gathered energy in my life as I lived with powerful
internalizations of inferiority. I knew
by first grade that I was adopted and by fourth grade that my racial identity
opened me up to teasing. I experienced
self-loathing, stress and anger from racial encounters with White students and
even friends which were also confusing. I was highly racialized, and as I began to seek out meaning,
particularly in my UU church, I was met with denial and silence.

My early life also
intersects with homophobia and sexism. There was a running dialogue among the young men on the sports teams I
was a part of, denigrating gays and women. Sometimes I would join in their ridicule. This exposure and behavior led me to
stereotype and degrade persons, promoting my superiority. Even as I intellectually began to understand
and reject oppression, in part through realizing my own racial marginalization,
it took relationships, study, and training to counter the accumulation and move
from participatory apathy to moral action. The UU church was instrumental in my reflection and action.

By college I was
deep into anti-oppression theory and practice, and maintained a connection to
the Eugene UU Church as a Welcoming Congregation participant. This was a very significant training for me,
one that demystified Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender matters, and taught me
the value and power of collective church reflection and action. Yet the church provided no place for my
resistance to White supremacy and immersion into People of Color, particularly
Asian descent community. My inquiry
about racial diversity received responses such as “we tried that,” “they’re not
interested,”and “love sees no color”. I
was a believer in the intersections of oppression, and the linkages of identity
politics, and was living this as Co-Director of the newly formed University of
Oregon Multicultural Center. But I
perceived a level of collusion with racial supremacy in UU difficult to
endure. I sought spiritual enlightenment
and mentorship during this time in my life, and for me this included questions
of racial identity.

While Co-Director I
was targeted as a Person of Color. On
April 1st, I was among several dozen Students of Color to receive a
letter from the Administration declaring my financial aid would be eliminated
due to revised affirmative action policies. It was a prank, which happened in the same semester as swastikas being
burnt on our doors and White students urinating off rooftops onto Women of
Color. Our Center organized a press
conference, the police were involved, and attempts to inform the community and
investigate the incidents soon developed. The Administration apologized, and nominally engaged our efforts. Campus security seized several of my planning
notebooks from the Center, speculating that I may have sent the letter. Nothing came of the inquiry, and I never got
my notebooks back, even after submitting written requests.

In this snapshot
experience, I felt the privilege of my positional power, and sanctuary in the
collective of Students of Color. With my
peers, I was able to express my deepest fears and anger in a pastoral setting,
and organize, with allies, to surface these issues in a constructive
manner. I was deeply concerned about my
peers who may not have realized the hoax and could have potentially quit school. 

I realized the
incredible disparity racism perpetuates, particularly economically, and how it
is an ideology that is one of the most resilient in the face of justice
movements. One of racism’s strengths is
the physical segregation and the advocacy of racial superiority still widely
present in the public and private spheres of White American and Canadian
individual and institutional life. Anti-racism and anti-oppression have a special place in my heart and
ministry due to these experiences.

My life today is
grounded in a multiracial, multicultural community. Outside my immediate family, it is my close
peers and mentors who represent the diversity I seek to create. I have made choices about where I live, what
I buy, and who I associate with in order to promote AO/AR/MC principles. I have experience with caucusing, which I
believe is critical in sustaining transformative change. I stay in relationship with the people,
communities and ideas that labor for justice. I have chosen Unitarian Universalism as my faith community first because
of theological affirmation. I remain
passionate about our faith because I believe we have a saving message, a
healing spiritual home, and that our free pulpit is inclusive of the affairs of
People of Color.

My analysis is
inherently dynamic, and I am suspicious of any analysis that is declared
static. Context is fundamental in
oppression. In principle I am committed
to the various analyses of oppression developed by the communities of persons
who experience, reflect and resist oppression. In the UUA this comes from the Women’s Federation, Interweave, DRUUMM
and UUA Accessibilities Committee for example. I strive to know history, and know elders to share in their wisdom from
experience. I am skeptical of individual
analyses as central for social action, and believe in analysis frameworks that
are inclusive of institutional change and power dynamics.

Rigoberta Menchu’s
autobiography touched me deeply and moved me to begin my journey towards
wholeness with her story of familial suffering and resistance. The historical writings of Ronald Takaki and
Howard Zinn revealed holistic stories of communities and movements for
justice. Malcolm X’s biography as told
to Alex Haley opened up the profound internalization and psychological effects
of oppression. Training through Crossroads
Ministry, Asian American Resource Workshop and the UUA have helped develop my
analysis into action. Mentors have
sustained and deepened my action: Leon Spencer, who introduced me to racial
identity development, Josh Pawelek, who modeled institutional accountability,
Danielle DiBona, who shared a pastoral vision, James Fraser who framed the
spirituality of hope, and Marjorie Bowens-Wheatley, who encouraged my
intergenerational activism. 

 I believe justice-making work requires us to
attend to issues of understanding suffering, developing solidarity, and acting
collectively.  I believe that AR/AO/MC
work starts from our experience and profound empathy of the suffering of the
other. I believe religious community
needs to be conscious and vigorous of AO/AR/MC, particularly around issues
present in the local setting. Oppression
has roots in evil, and manifests as evil, yet dwells well masked in our North
American way of life. Evil separates us from wholeness, and seeks to privilege
a fraction of the universe. Evil is
sustained from the parts of humanity that live void of consciousness and
tolerate bigotry. I believe we are a
faith that responds to this evil and the suffering it creates in the world.

I live a ministry
that engages those on the margins, and strives to live the beloved
community. One final example is my work
with Youth and Young Adults of Color in the UUA. I have been focusing on developing leadership
for young People of Color in my volunteer and UUA capacity. This is a primary response to our historic
racial segregation, our outreach goals, and the expressed wishes of People of
Color in UUA. I advocate for People of
Color leadership in the UUA, coming from and in relationship with People of
Color communities, and that we support ministry for these groups. I resist the tokenization of marginalized
persons into leadership. In this
context, I have been organizing annual spiritual retreats for young people,
multiracial families, and the intergenerational community. One of the primary elements of these programs
is encouraging parallel programming for White anti-racist allies, and
facilitating open dialogue in the whole church setting. These have been difficult, incredible, and
frustrating, but I believe critical to our stretching into justice-centered and
holistic cultural change.

I believe AR/AO/MC
is manifested in authentic relationship. In our authenticity, we are accountable and caring. In our accountability, we are reconciled and
restored. In our caring, we nurture our
greatest gift, the power of love. I
believe true community to be intergenerational, multiracial, multicultural
community, and it is these spaces and places I seek to be and minister.

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One response to “My Anti-Oppression/Anti-Racism Analysis (MFC Paper)

  1. Looks great! Easy to find helpful information. Very useful. Enjoyed the visit!

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