Frequently Asked Questions about Black Lives of UU
What is Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism (BLUU?)
Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism (BLUU) formed out of several conversations among Black UUs at the July 2015 Movement for Black Lives Convening in Cleveland, Ohio. The BLUU Organizing Collective works to provide support, information & resources for Black Unitarian Universalists. We also work to expand the role and visibility of Black UUs within our faith.
We are a group of five people. We work in a collaborative structure of decision making and in consultation with a closed Facebook group of more than 500 Black UUs. We are led, as movements for Black liberation have always been in this country, by black women and queer black folks in particular. Within our collaborative decision making construct, a full-time Executive Director position was established to maintain collective operations, vision, and management of resources as BLUU’s lead employee. Lena K. Gardner is the inaugural Executive Director for the collective. And Rev. Mykal Slack is our first Community Minister.
What is BLUU’s vision/mission?
We are committed to justice-making and liberation through our faith.
What are the three things that BLUU is focused on?
We focus our efforts in three areas. They include:
- Expand the power & capacity of Black UUs within our faith.
- Provide support, information & resources for Black UUs.
- Justice-making and liberation through our faith.
To view a more detailed snapshot of our work visit our GOALS page.
What is collective leadership?
We are actively seeking to build and operate from a non-hierarchical model that embraces the gifts and talents of not only the five individuals on the lead team but also of Black UUs that are a part of the BLUU community. There is no membership model and we don’t ask anyone to pay dues. Building a working relationship with BLUU comes through actually working in collaboration with the organizing collective directly on various projects.
To learn more about our team visit our ABOUT BLUU page.
How do you contact BLUU?
How can I donate to BLUU’s efforts?
Please visit our website for donation instructions including how to give online, by mail through check, or to leave a legacy gift: https://www.uua.org/giving/areas-support/funds/promise-and-practice
How does BLUU make decisions? What is our organizational structure?
These are good questions.
We have embraced a model that is not completely without hierarchy, but one that seeks to avoid reproducing the same privileges and power inequities that are too prevalent in too many nonprofit justice organizations, congregations, and other structures. So by minimizing hierarchy, focusing on transparency and responsiveness, we are attempting to live into a modified structure. In keeping with our own experiences as BLUU’s Organizing Collective and the experiences of other black Unitarian Universalists across a wide spectrum, a lot of our ideas and decisions about those questions come from a place of unmet need in our communities or in our own lives.
This structure is reliant on more intensive transparency and communication with our community, each other and everyone we are in community with - namely the broader UU community.
Concretely our structure includes these elements:
Weekly OC meetings through the online Zoom video conferencing services, where we make decisions and delegate our work to accomplish our programming for BLUU and for our UU faith. Our work is usually broken out into three buckets: serving Black UUs, challenging our broader faith community and institutions to close the gap between our theology and the practice in our congregations and communities, and contributions to the global justice movements -- while centering Black liberation in all areas. Our work broadly understood is liberation and justice-making through our faith.
Black UUs: Communicating, building connections with movement spaces and spiritual nurturance with and for our Black UU community through our email list, a public facing Facebook page and one closed explicitly Black Facebook group and a newly executive director written monthly update. We also do this through our BLUU Ministerial Network. From a daily affirmations list, to pastoral care office hours, support for in-person meetups to monthly online worship services, we are serving Black UUs. In seeking to live deeply into our founding principles, specifically honoring our elders and creating an intergenerational space we created our BLUU 360 Council and work to make our events kid-welcoming with optional programming for youth.
Broader UU community: Regular communications and coordination with various UUA departments including finance, fundraising, Side with Love, the GA Planning Committee, the Board of Trustees and various affinities groups like TRUUST and DRUUMM and regular appearances on the Church of the Larger Fellowship’s YouTube talk show ‘The VUU.’ We also seek work as a knowledge base and connection site for many UUs of many cultural identities to give of their time, talent, and treasure to people and groups in need. Examples of this include amplifying how to give directly to Black and brown people in need such as in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in Houston and Florida, and Puerto Rico as well as the earthquake in Mexico.
Movement Spaces: We actively seek and maintain relationships and in service to other groups, organizations and projects that are outside of UUism, and committed to Black and collective liberation. In 2015 and 2016 these initiatives included: the 4th Precinct Occupation in Minneapolis, MN in response to the police killing of Jamar Clark, the Revive Love tour with stops in St. Louis, Atlanta, New Orleans, Knoxville, and Nashville, Standing Rock Day of Prayer, the Women’s March, and in 2017 we challenged the UU faith to meet our gift of $5,000 to the National Mama’s Day Bailout efforts. (The effort raised nearly $30,000 toward the National Mama’s Day Bailout to end the cash bail system.)
Connecting face-to-face or voice-to-voice: While we certainly face budgetary restraints, we try as much as possible, whenever possible to be connecting with our Black UU community, UU community at-large and movement partners through voice-to-voice connections, video conference or in-person.The in-person gatherings and community building opportunities for Black UUs included explicitly Black healing spaces at General Assembly, specific programming and workshops for Black UUs as well as workshops for everyone covering topics like anti-blackness, BLUU convening recap, recap of the Movement for Black Lives, a history of Black UUs experience in our UU faith, and elder Mtangulizi Sanyika (Baba)’s workshop on the history of the ‘Black Empowerment Controversy.’ We’ve also attended UUA Board meetings in April 2017 and October 2017, with plans to gather for a BLUU Revival in Kansas City, MO in Spring 2018, to attend to the Board meeting in January 2018 at Highlander Research and Education Center and to continue with our monthly Executive Director Video Conference chats.
As you know, flying a plane while you are building it is literally impossible, yet that is akin to the undertaking of building a new organization from the ground up while continuing to do the work at a pace that can somewhat match the rate at which our world and communities are moving.
We do have a set a of newly established Community Agreements <link community agreements> about how we want to be in this work and moving in this work together and you can find them here on our website.
As the OC we make decisions using an informal, modified consensus model. We often seek input and feedback from our Black UU community - mostly we do this through a private, closed Facebook group.
BLUU Financial Transparency Group
What is the BLUU Financial Transparency Group?
The BLUU Transparency Group is a group made up of volunteers who goals are:
- To support transparency around financial expenditures and plans.
- To help build trust within the BLUU community and the wider UU community.
- To evaluate how the BLUU budget expenditures are matching up with the working goals of BLUU.
The group is responsible for:
- meeting with the BLUU Executive Director to review prepared financial statements;
- assisting with the sharing out of publicly prepared financial statements;
- working with the Executive Director to field questions from the broader Black UU community surrounding issues of transparency and financial stability;
- and supporting the BLUU OC and staff in understanding and exploring the financial intricacies of our unique organizational structure as well as developing internal controls and financial processes.
Who makes up the BLUU Financial Transparency Group?
The current & founding members are:
- Ndidi Achebe
- Monifa Johnson
- Karen King
- Mia Morse
- David Nicholson
Their 2-year term begins September 2018 with a commitment to meet once per month during their term.
BLUU Spiritual Subscription Box FAQ
What is the BLUU Spiritual Subscription Box?
The BLUU Spiritual Subscription Box is a box and community for those seeking to grow and deepen their faith from a Unitarian Universalist perspective. Grounded and informed by Black experiences, this inspiration - focused and action-oriented box is especially for those looking to live out the mandate of justice-making and liberation through our shared faith.
Why are you doing this?
The BLUU Organizing Collective developed the BLUU Spiritual Subscription Box for a few reasons. First, we know that lots of Black UUs are isolated from UU congregations and are looking to deepen their faith and connect it with their commitment to justice and liberation. Second, we know from our experiences organizing nationally, that many folks active in justice work are seeking spiritually sound, culturally relevant content that is affirming, inclusive and action-oriented and are looking for a faith home. The BLUU Spiritual Subscription Box is just one way that the Black Lives (BLUU) of UU Organizing Collective is answering the call we’ve heard across the country from those needing resources to that not only center their experiences as Black people but are rooted in a decidedly Unitarian Universalist perspective.
Cool! What’s in the BLUU Spiritual Subscription Box? (#BLUUBox)
Each month, subscribers to the BLUU Subscription Box will receive:
“Awaken, My Soul:” A special written prayer to center you in joy, affirm you and ground you in spiritually challenging times
“For Such a Time As This:” A brief reflection on contemporary issues informed by a Black UU faith perspective
“Walk it Out” Activity: guidelines for a social justice action you can take, aligned with the monthly theme for the box
“For Our People:” Deepen your knowledge of Black UU history past and present with profiles of prominent Black UUs that have shaped and informed our living faith tradition
“Link Up:” information for Black UUs on opportunities for community building and information for non-Black allies who want to support these efforts
#BLUUSupports: Information on our latest efforts to extend our goal of justice making and liberation through our faith by highlighting a different project, program or organization each month that aligns with our Unitarian Universalist principles and the principles of Black of Lives of UU.
Exclusive BLUU Swag: items to show your pride in and support of Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism
Link to an exclusive audio meditation or reflection, informed by the theme for that month’s #BLUUBox
How did you decide to do the BLUU Spiritual Subscription Box?
Over the last few years of BLUU’s existence, we’ve had continual asks for our ministry to extend beyond social media and our in-person events. We know that many Black UUs are isolated across the country and hungry for opportunities to deepen and grow their faith, learn about the history of Black folks in UUism and have a chance to make connections to the larger movement for justice and liberation. Leslie Mac’s work and experience as co-founder of Safety Pin Box lead to a discussion among members of the BLUU Organizing Collective about the lack of a similar resource for spiritual communities centered on the experiences of Black people.
I am not Black. Can I subscribe to the BLUU Spiritual Subscription Box?
Yes! All who are interested in deepening their Unitarian Universalist faith through the lens of a Black liberationist perspective are welcome to sign up for the BLUU Spiritual Subscription Box. Your subscription will also support the ongoing work of Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism (BLUU).
I am not a Unitarian Universalist. Can I subscribe to the BLUU Spiritual Subscription Box?
Yes -- welcome! If you are interested in learning more about Unitarian Universalism, connecting authentically with Black UUs committed to working for justice and liberation and/or exploring the intersections between your own faith perspective and UUism, this box is for you! We especially encourage those supportive of Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism’s 7 Principles for Black Lives to subscribe to the BLUU Spiritual Subscription Box.
Can my congregation subscribe to the BLUU Spiritual Subscription Box?
Yes! The BLUU Spiritual Subscription Box is a great fit for congregations or congregationally-based social justice ministries to learn together, deepen their allyship in measurable and accountable ways and extend their support for Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism beyond the Promise and the Practice.
What are the differences between the Standard Subscriber Level and the Black UU Subscriber Level? Which level should my multiracial family choose? Are the contents of the box different depending on which level I choose?
Good question! While we encourage everyone to join at the Standard Subscriber Level, we acknowledge that doing so would constitute a financial hardship for many Black UUs. It’s important to us that Black folks who want to subscribe don’t miss out on this resource so we created a specific Black UU Subscriber level and price point in an effort to make the #BLUUBox accessible. The content of the box is the same, no matter what level you choose.
Can I give the BLUU Spiritual Subscription Box to a Black UU or someone else I know as a gift?
Yes! Simply include the shipping address for the person receiving the box on the subscription form.
I already support BLUU as a patron on the Patreon platform. Can I get the BLUU Subscription Box too?
Yes! Thank you! Folks who support BLUU on Patreon at the $75 level will automatically receive the BLUU Subscription Box too!
When will the #BLUUBox ship?
Your box will ship on the third Tuesday of each month. Please order before the 30th day of the previous month to get the next box.
The first box ships in October 2018.
NOTE: Ships to the United States only at this time.
Can I unsubscribe from the #BLUUBox
Subscriptions automatically renew each month. Cancel anytime before the day of the month you signed up for the #BLUUBox.