Guide for a Deeper Resistance

Love Resists is a joint campaign of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) and Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) that activates people of faith and conscience to resist criminalization and build a safer and more just world. This guide is intended to build a deeper understanding of the threat criminalization poses to multiple intersecting communities, particularly under the current administration, and to highlight strategies for creative resistance.

This guide is not the product of original research. Rather, it provides a framework to engage with resources that have already been developed by the communities and activists who are most directly impacted by criminalization and who are leading the struggle to end it. The guide will introduce multiple strategies for resisting criminalization in the form of brief, four-session toolkits. The first of these toolkits is on the topic of Community Protection. It can be found here, or in the link below and in the left-hand side bar.

While intended for all, this guide has been deeply informed by UU principles and values. Unitarians and Universalists throughout their history have emphasized that human beings have moral freedom to shape their destiny, and that no one is beyond the circle of divine love. Criminalization is therefore the ultimate affront to UU values. It labels some members of our community unworthy, irredeemable, or lacking in humanity, through practices of exclusion, deportation, and incarceration. As UUs, we affirm the truth that no one is disposable. That is why we resist.

How to Use This Guide

The full guide includes four one-hour sessions designed to be used by groups such as small group ministries or covenant groups. However, we welcome you to use the resources presented here in any format that fits your needs.

Consider:

  • Using the materials here for individual study and reflection;
  • Using small parts at the beginning of a social justice committee meeting or board meeting;
  • Using parts for a youth group, elders group, or Sunday morning conversation;
  • Incorporating these materials into an existing adult religious education group;
  • Using the guide as a companion to a relevant fiction or non-fiction book as part of a book club;
  • Pulling from the materials to do a one-time session or a larger workshop after services;
  • If your congregation is already active in immigrant justice, anti-islamophobia, or Black Lives Matter/Beyond the Banner, consider integrating these sessions into your meetings or events to deepen education and reflection alongside action.

Each session includes readings, specific tech needs (if any), a group activity, and questions for discussion and reflection. Groups who are working through the sessions together are invited to designate a facilitator, but the facilitator does not need to be a content expert – everyone is learning together.

Sign up to Facilitate!

Are you interested in facilitating a group to use this guide? If so, we’d love to help you! Please complete this form so we can be in touch. Once you sign up, we’ll be able to send you updates and follow-up resources as they are developed.

Anti-Oppressive and Anti-Racist Facilitation
Criminalization in U.S. society is in many ways a tool of white supremacy, as well as other forms of oppression. As we study the ways white supremacy plays out in criminalization, we want to try to be actively anti-racist in our facilitation and group dynamics so that everyone’s voice and perspective will be honored in the discussion and no one’s experiences are made invisible.

 

 

 

 

In order to do so, we recommend that you address these points as part of a group covenant:

  • We do not know what other people in the room have experienced in regard to policing, the criminal justice system, and the immigration system. We cannot assume based on race, class, or any specific identity factors that people have or have not had these experiences. Remain curious and allow space for everyone to share on their own terms and timeframe (or choose not to share).
  • No one person can speak for an entire group and it is unfair to ask people from oppressed groups to educate those with privilege. For example, do not ask a Black person to speak for all Black people or ask a trans person to educate a cis person about gender identity.
  • Remember that each of us have perspectives shaped by our own experiences and social location. Those of us who have studied or read about criminalization but not experienced it can never be “experts” of what other people live through.
  • If you have a diverse group, consider breaking into caucus groups (usually “white-identified” and “people of color-identified”) for the discussions. Crossroads Anti-Racism offers tips for caucusing as an anti-racism tool. Those who are unsure of the rationale for caucusing or who are concerned it may be a divisive or harmful strategy can learn more about the practice by reading “The Wisdom of Caucusing for People of Color,” from Roots of Justice, and “Separatism” by Paul Kivel, the latter of which is particularly geared toward white-identified people.
  • During these challenging conversations it is likely that some folks will say things that hurt others. Make a commitment to how the group will handle these moments before they happen. Some ideas include: honoring impact over intent; using “ouch” and “oops” as shorthand to acknowledge micro-aggressions; and focusing on the problem rather than the person.

Those who desire additional guidance on implementing anti-racist and anti-oppressive facilitation techniques are encouraged to read the “Anti-Oppression Facilitation for Democratic Process” Guide published by AORTA as well as the Essential Elements of the UU White Supremacy Teach-In.

Photo thanks to Rev. Amy Freedman, used with permission.

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