Undoing Racism Committee

We are a long-standing committee of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Montclair whose goal is to work with our congregation and the wider community to develop, strengthen and act upon anti-racist, multicultural perspectives through worship services, educational programs, lectures, book & film discussions, other cultural events, and community involvement.

The goal of the Undoing Racism Committee is to give UUCM members and friends the opportunity to act on their commitments to racial justice. We work closely with the UU Legislative Ministry of NJ and seek guidance from the UU Association. Through self-examination and learning, we are able to act with more direction and impact.

Jane Gaertner serves as chair. For information, contact undoingracism@uumontclair.org.


Racism As We See It

From Anneliese Scherfen and Jane Gaertner on behalf of the Undoing Racism Committee

Fifty-three years ago, Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr wrote Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?, a book in which King focused on the cause of our national discord: ingrained white racism and poverty.  The Undoing Racism Committee (URC) believes that we must take Dr. King’s pleas and rededicate ourselves to changing the culture, systems, institutions and laws with urgency. We cannot let another five decades pass without real and lasting change.

 Many people have emailed URC to ask how they can be involved. There are so many resources being shared now and many offer good suggestions. Marching in solidarity or virtually supporting the marchers is great. Educating yourself on the history of racism and anti-racism in America is an imperative step. Listening to and believing the voices of Black, Indigenous, & Brown People of Color (BIPOC) is paramount. Calling out yourself, family, & colleagues on microaggressions. Discussing issues of race with others openly. These and more are types of actions you can take.  

 Since April 2019, a team of about 7 people at UUCM have been examining disproportionate Use of Force against Black people in Montclair (under the Social Justice Coalition umbrella). According to the NJ Force Report, based on population, a Black person is 490% more likely to have force used against them in Montclair. This team, while acknowledging issues in the data, also knows from multiple reports that BIPOC are disproportionately injured/arrested/incarcerated state-wide and nationally. The team has been attempting to tackle this behemoth problem to address excessive force by law enforcement, understand best methods to hold police and our justice systems accountable, as well as how faith-based groups can have an impact. The killings of Breonna Taylor, Maurice Gordon, George Floyd, Tony McDade, Rayshard Brooks, and others at the hands of law enforcement in recent weeks has shone a spotlight and created a sense of urgency.

Black Lives Matter – we are committed to truly knowing the meaning of this banner we installed on UUCM five years ago. The work of antiracism involves taking responsibility and supporting risk. Risk something and join us to find your place in the movement.

The Undoing Racism Committee will begin using a new email (undoingracism@uumontclair.org) for all Committee correspondence.  Please put this email in your contact address books, and always keep your Realm info up-to-date, as all URC correspondence for meetings will be through Realm.

Participating in an immigration rally on June 17, 2018.

Dale Harris (actor), Jessicaa Baskerville (playwright), and Mechi Antoine Brown at “Just As Cruel” rehearsal immediately before staged reading at UUCM on October 24th.
Our event on October 24, 2019: “Just as Cruel,” a staged reading by MSU alum, Jessica Baskerville, which confronts that history, followed by a panel discussion with Jane Elias of of Montclair History Center, MSU professors Dr. Leslie Wilson and Dr. Chris Matthews, and two students from MSU Collegiate Chapter of the NAACP. The thrust of the performance, “Just as Cruel,” hearkens back to history of slavery in New Jersey. The inspiration for the play began when the play’s director, Mechi Antoine Brown, learned about an interview of two people formerly enslaved in Essex County, New Jersey. The interviews was published in the New York Times in 1882. (Photo courtesy of Deborah Ann Tripoldi)

Our November 13, 2019 event, “Intersections: Ending Gender Violence, Finding Anti-Racist Solidarity,” led by Rev. Dr. Tracy C. West (photo courtesy of Mary Moriarty).