The following is a statement from the Unitarian Universalist Association, released on May 18, 2022, in response to the May 14 Buffalo, New York, shooting.
On Saturday, May 14, a young white man killed ten Black people and injured three additional individuals at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York. There is no doubt as to the motive behind this act of what can only be called domestic terrorism.
The perpetrator posted a manifesto online in which he repeated the antisemitic and racist “replacement theory” that conservative Republican leaders and commentators have used to justify attacks on Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities across the country.
The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) grieves for the ten Black lives lost—Celestine Chaney, Roberta A. Drury, Andre Mackneil, Katherine Massey, Margus D. Morrison, Heyward Patterson, Aaron Salter Jr., Geraldine Talley, Ruth Whitfield, and Pearl Young—and their families.
They were beloved friends, family members, and neighbors, and their loss will leave an indelible and painful memory within their loved ones’ hearts and communities.
In the days since this most recent brutal attack on Black people, this country has once again been forced to confront our long history of racism.
The stain of white supremacy has been part of American society since before we were a nation—from the legacy of slavery to the persistence of racism today, we still devalue Black life. Additionally, throughout our history, even before we were a nation, there have been courageous and faithful civil rights leaders, most of whom were people of color, who have repeatedly shown up for justice and inspired others to fight against what President Biden just yesterday called the “poison” of white supremacy.
The UUA remains steadfast in our commitment to antiracism. In 2021, we issued a Statement of Conscience in which we called on UU congregations and individuals “to actively engage in undoing systemic white supremacy in all of its manifestations.”
As an organization and religious association, we believe in fundamental principles that assert the inherent worth and dignity of every person as sacred and that justice, equity, and compassion must unequivocally exist in all human relations.
Our deep commitment to building a fair and equitable society—especially for communities that have long borne the brunt of systemic injustice—are rooted in those principles.
Our nation is at a time of great crisis and polarization, with our democracy threatened by forces who are afraid that dismantling systemic racism will endanger their own privilege and power. We must all find the moral courage to speak out against white nationalist rhetoric that fuels ongoing violence and hate crimes. We must build the political and cultural will to make it unthinkable to support any form of racism or expression of white superiority.
The UUA believes that there is a better alternative, one rooted in our nation’s democratic promise of a just and multiracial, pluralistic, democratic society, a society in which all people are not only created equal but treated equally.
We know that the Beloved Community can be built here in the United States but only through the hard work of listening to and organizing in solidarity with those most impacted by systemic racism. We reaffirm our commitment to engage in relationship building, internal growth and transformation as we continue to actively work to dismantle white supremacy in our own institution, in our country, and in the world.