Commitment to Anti-Racism

"We strive to become an Anti-Racist, Anti-Oppressive, Multicultural Congregation"

The first "ends" of our church as voted by our Board of Trustees is to "strive to become an anti-racist, anti-oppressive, multicultural congregation."

West Shore looks like a predominantly, even overwhelmingly white church, which is typical for Cleveland's predominantly white western suburbs. yet we are deeply aware of the many hidden diversities among our members, involved with our ethnic heritages, our adopted and foster children, our cultural experiences. The people of color who attend West Shore are part of Us! So it's actually wrong, (and racist) to say we are a "white church". What we would like to be able to say is that we are a predominantly white anti-racist anti-oppressive congregation seeking to be allied with oppressed people within our membership and our larger community.

We also include within our members and visitors many people from historically and currently marginalized groups - people with disabilities, people with differing linguistic abilities, different age groups, and different sexual orientations. For more information about why we say the church's covenant in Spanish and in English, click here.

Why we have a "Black Lives Matter to West Shore" sign on the front of our building.

The letter below is one that we posted to explain to our neighbors and those who call into the church with concerns about "the banner."

Hi Neighbor, concerned friend of the church, or others,

Thanks for calling us and/or writing us to let us know your feelings about the sign that we have hanging outside our church, entitled “Black Lives Matter.” If you’re reading this, it’s probably because you’re not a member of the church and don’t know why we chose to hang this banner. We’re assuming that you’ve called because you want to tell us that “All Lives Matter” and that you’ve taken offense at a banner that you feel is divisive or somehow sends a wrong message. So this post is for you, to try to explain why we have this banner with the hopes that you might think about this issue from a different perspective.

  • All Lives Matter. Yes. We couldn’t agree with you more! Of course all lives matter. So why do we have a sign that calls out “Black Lives Matter?” We did this because we believe there is plenty of evidence to prove that throughout American history black lives have not mattered as much as white lives. In the current national controversy, the slogan is associated with the specific issue of whether our justice system needs reforms to address systemic racism. That’s what the Civil Rights movement was about, of course, but racism in our institutions didn’t end in 1970. A sign that says “All Lives Matter” would be a deflection from what this national discussion is all about. By putting up a sign that says “Black Lives Matter to Members of West Shore,” we’re saying something about the people in our church, and naming a reality that a lot of white people tend not to think about – that people of color, and particularly black people, continue to experience serious and systemic racism. Click here to read more...

Inclusivity Ministry (formerly Undoing Racism)

The goal of the Inclusivity Ministry at West Shore is to engage the whole congregation in changing attitudes, policies, and behaviors that intentionally or unintentionally exclude people outside the majority of our members.

Originally convened as the Undoing Racism group by our Parish Co-Minister Wayne Arnason in 2000, the Inclusivity Ministry adopted this new identity in 2007. Over the years we have offered the congregation regular programs and workshops that educate us about the links between different oppressions, the realities of racism in our lives, the burden disguised as blessing that is white privilege, and the ways that we can function as white anti-racist and anti-oppression allies. We have used film and training resources recommended by the UUA.

We have sought linkages and connections with other UU anti-oppression activists in nearby congregations, and with community groups and programs that share our goals. We engage in study, witness, and action. We offer annual programming on Anti-Racist, Anti-Oppressive and Multicultural classes. All members are expected to attend some form of anti-racist training during the course of their membership at West Shore, preferably within the first two years of joining. Consider this an open invitation to attend a meeting of the Inclusivity Ministry Team, which meets the third Tuesday of the month, at 7:30 p.m.

West Shore Racial Justice Timeline

The goal in developing the Racial Justice Timeline was for West Shore members to get to know our history in relation to African-American racial justice. We believe it’s important to have this information in our archives for future generations as well as for the work of the Diversity Change Team. The Timeline Committee met for over a year researching events that would help us understand our growth as a church in regard to social justice. The Timeline traces events from West Shore’s founding in 1946 until 2010. Click here to  see a PDF copy of the Timeline.

Diversity Resource Team 

The Diversity Resource Team is a Board-appointed task force that coaches and monitors the progress that West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church is making as an institution on working towards becoming an anti-racist, anti-oppressive, and multicultural congregation.