Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Remember the Alamo

Third is a series of posts about the UUA January Board Meeting

I do remember the Alamo – both the version I was taught in grade school (lost battle, deaths of many American heroes) and the one that came later about the United States seizing Mexican land. But why did the Americans want the land?

According to the Sunday sermon by President Peter Morales, the answer provides an interesting link between the two largest “minority” groups in the United States: in the early 1800s, Texas was a great place for growing cotton. Cotton was labor intensive, and the cheapest labor was via slaves. As Americans followed their “manifest destiny” by moving west and into Texas (illegal immigrants into Mexico, as Peter points out), they brought slaves with them. One of the problems, however, is that Mexico prohibited slavery. Though this may or may not have been the only reason for the Mexican-American War, I suspect it was significant, as Americans have always been good at economic self-interest.

Unitarian Universalism has a long history with African Americans, as documented beautifully in the book The Arc of the Universe is Long, one of whose authors is the Rev. Leslie Takahashi-Morris from our Mount Diablo congregation. For that reason I should not have been so surprised that our diversity efforts seemed to be mostly black and white. That is obviously changing, helped by the leadership of our current president.

I would hope this is not viewed as a zero sum game -- does more time on Hispanic culture and issues of undocumented immigrants mean less time for the concerns of African Americans? One of the most powerful concepts I have found is that of white privilege (or straight privilege, or able-bodied privilege, or….) which forces me to look in the mirror, rather than check out the color of the person across from me -- and transcends racial and ethnic boundaries.

Next post: Why you should care about Article XV

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