“I Can’t Breathe”

George Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American man, died on May 25, 2020 after being handcuffed and pinned to the ground by a white police officer’s knee.

“People of faith, particularly those of us who are white progressives, need to combat the systems of criminalization in our country. Systems of policing and criminalization in the country are inherently violent, steeped in and created to reinforce white supremacy, anti-blackness, and radicalized control.” UUA President, Reverend Dr. Susan Frederick-Gray

We must do more than say the names of those whose lives have been taken by racialized violence. We must do more than name the systems of white supremacy and capitalism that wage violence against our Black neighbors.

As a people of faith, we must bear witness to this moment. That means that we must name hard truths, but we also must act. As the Rev Jen Crow of First Universalist Church of Minneapolis shared in this past Sunday’s service: we all have work to do but we first must grieve and mourn.

By deeply listening to the suffering and anger of our Black neighbors, we can gain understanding and compassion. By taking a few on-line tests we can get in touch with our own implicit biases. Harvard has some free at: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html

There are three concrete things that UU St Pete members and friends can do locally in response to this moment:


  1. Support the community justice work of FAST*, which is directly addressing two systemic injustices in Pinellas County
    • Racial Profiling
    • Restorative Practices to reduce school suspensions — the pipeline to prisons
    and the state-wide law changes, Civil Citations for youth instead of arrests.

*FAST is an interracial coalition of 40+ faith-based groups in Pinellas County. Contact Pat Fling at flingp@att.net to help out.

  1. Contribute to the Woodson Warrior Scholarship Project* and make a difference at a particularly important time in the African American community of St. Petersburg. Many parents and students have been furloughed or let go from their jobs. It is not clear that these inspiring students will be able to continue in school.

This is a time when we all could benefit from some hope; the Woodson Warriors are that hope. They earned high GPAs in their first year of college and showed the leadership qualities and grit we expected of them after the rigorous application process.

To contribute by buying a painting, see: BunkerScholarshipAuction.com
To contribute a donation, see: WoodsonMuseum.org

*The Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum and UU St Pete snowbird Dr. Jane Bunker began the scholarship program for underserved local African American youth in 2019. Auction of Bunker’s paintings, along with generous donations, funded 17 scholarships with $43,000. The plan was to double that amount in 2020. That all ended with the pandemic.

  1. Become active in Pinellas School Board elections with a focus on improving the quality of public education in schools that serve minority communities. Three seats on the Pinellas County Schools school board are up for general election on November 3, 2020. A primary is scheduled for August 18, 2020. More information to follow.

The above focus on our local community, but there are a variety of other ways to take action as listed by Corinne Shutack . Here is her list.

Look for updates – on UU St Pete’s closed FB group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/uustpete

Karen Coale and Reggie Craig
UUSP Social Justice Co-Chairs

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