Point of Personal Privilege to the Moderator, General Assembly Plenary Session, June 24, 2002
by Susan Suchocki Brown and Paula Cole Jones
A significant number of persons present are concerned and feel the issue of the Commission on Appraisal (COA) is still unresolved and not a good way to end the General Assembly (GA). So we have been asked to come to you opening up the deeper and unresolved issues not presently being offered to the GA attendees. We find it regrettable that the COA was not able or willing to make a joint statement, but that a member of the COA had to speak as an individual.
Paula Cole Jones: My name is Paula Cole Jones and I am the President-elect of DRUUMM. DRUUMM is organized to support People of Color in our movement and to help the Association understand what it means to be in right relationship with People of Color. As Dr. Leon Spencer said yesterday in the meeting with the Commission on Appraisal, "For People of Color, just being present is no longer enough."
The situation that brings us here is not a private or a personal issue; it is a community issue. Usually we do not hear the community response when a situation leaves someone feeling slighted or devalued. This time we did. In order to establish right relationship, we have to be able to trust that our concerns are being valued and that corrections, when needed, are possible.
We are working to build a community where People of Color feel welcome and where People of Color are involved in our congregations, and in the business of the UUA. We are working to create an environment where People of Color feel comfortable and supported in leadership positions. The messages that we receive let us know where the Association is on the journey and when parts of the institution need to be held accountable for making corrections that give us another chance at right relationship.
Susan Suchocki Brown: Transparency is crucial and critical and privacy is not the issue. And, those of us who witnessed the interchange are being forced into a conspiracy of silence, which we will not do. Accountability to and with members of the COA and to and with the GA requires transparency and a willingness to be transformed by experiences that offer opportunities however difficult for learning and changing.
When any member of our community is broken, discounted, or marginalized we are all broken. We need to model ways to own our mistakes and be transformed and open to change and to stay at the table even when things are difficult.
Paula Cole Jones: Just as we have discovered that covenanting is often the missing piece that keeps people at the table when things get difficult, accountability is the missing piece that brings us back to the community and working to make right relationships.
Susan Suchocki Brown: The COA is elected by G.A. and there exists a mandate to become an anti-racist, anti-oppressive, multicultural faith community. We must find ways to join together in the struggle.
Therefore we believe that the COA needs to enter into a serious process of accountability and develop a relationship with the JTWTC and DRUUMM in order to establish right relationship and be a model to all in demonstrating a commitment to transformation and transparency based on an initiative passed at a GA just like this one in 1997.
Thank you for giving us this opportunity to speak.