By Erika Cohen Maddaluno (she/her)
Co-chair, Board of Trustees
Wow—this is a tremendous undertaking! You may be asking yourself some questions, such as, “What are you talking about, Erika?”
“What is the 8th Principle?”
“Do we really ‘need’ to do this?”
“How does this impact me?”
Lots of great questions, and I hope hearing this from my perspective may help you understand this calling to North Parish.
Some of you may (or may not) know, I identify as a Person of Color/Biracial. My mother is Black, and my father is White. While this may not be anything earth-shattering these days, it really shaped who I am today. I spent a lot of time in my early years with my mother’s extended family, and I really developed my Black identity through them. I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that I had more opportunities than the generations before me, and I hope to continue to create a more just and equitable world for my children and future generations. To put it into perspective, I was born 13 years after the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed, and 11 years after the recognition of interracial marriage across the USA. That is close to history!
I never questioned my humanity. I never questioned where I belonged. I always felt I had a seat at the table. However, I can’t say many of my Black family ever felt that way.
Trying to prove their humanity was valid in this country was beyond exhausting, and still a subconscious part of our lives today. It will not go away because we, as a country, hope it will disappear. We need to have a serious look at ourselves, our history, and to truly learn and grow from it. No white-washing. No downplaying the significance of its impact on everyday life. We need to lean into the uncomfortableness to come out as better folks on the other side of this self-examination.
But, what does this have to do with the 8th Principle? As I have embraced Unitarian Universalism and the current Principles and Sources, I realized the 8th Principle is calling on us to do the hard work. While the first two Principles call on us to recognize the dignity and worth of every person and to create a just world, they don’t call on us to face the work of dismantling racism in our individual congregations.
I recognize this may not be a form of Spiritual Wholeness for some, as they feel that by association with the UUA, they have already embraced the ideals of what our religion has put forth. However, I know that the dignity of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) within these UU spaces isn’t fully recognized. Their wholeness as individuals and as a community rely on their whole lived experiences, learning from them, leaning into the difficult conversations, and realizing that as a Unitarian Universalist, this is its own form of Spiritual Wholeness. By recognizing we, as a congregation, need to examine our past, we can reconcile in the present, and create a more just and equitable future for all. For a personal perspective, please check out Kristen L. Harper’s book, The Darkness Divine: A Loving Challenge to My Faith. I invite you to check it out, as it is her perspective of being a Black person within the UU faith. https://www.uuabookstore.org/The-Darkness-Divine-P18949.aspx
The call to adopt the 8th Principle has been in the works for over 25 years, through the tireless work of Paula Cole-Jones. Some of you may recognize her anti-racism efforts throughout the UUA, but the adoption of the 8th Principle is a keystone in her work. You can read more about the 8th Principle here: https://www.8thprincipleuu.org/background
My hope is the work surrounding the 8th Principle is profound.
- Profound on a singular level—yourself and how it impacts you and what actions you take.
- Profound on a group level—congregation wide and what the congregation stands for.
- Profound for the future of North Parish and the work the church puts out into the world.
Rev. Lee spoke about the proposed changes in Article II put forth by the UUA, which will be presented at General Assembly in June 2023. While these changes are presented, they will need to be passed two years in a row, without correction, revision, etc. In the meantime, the adoption of the 8th Principle furthers to strengthen the proposed changes to Article II. By North Parish adopting the 8th Principle, it lays the groundwork for the eventual adoption of Article II. Here is an interview between Paula Cole Jones and Rev. Dr. Meg Foley, discussing the relationship between the 8th Principle and Article II adoption (it’s approximately 15 minutes): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnKJU_9GEY0
In the coming months, I am calling on North Parish to help me to adopt the 8th Principle. By coordinating a Committee, my hope is we, as a congregation, can start this conversation and lean into the dialogue and actions that comes from this work. The Board of Trustees and the Racial Justice Team are supporting this effort, and I am looking forward to putting this to congregational vote at the Annual Meeting in May 2023. I am looking for 5-7 members total, including myself. I am also interested in having a Senior Youth involved. If you are interested in joining this Committee, please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org and indicate you are interested in the 8th Principle adoption efforts.