‘We must speak out against social bias’

January 19, 2023

A letter was sent to First Parish in Concord last week detailing an incident of racial bias that happened at an ATM in West Concord earlier this month. The person on the receiving end of the unfortunate incident shared his experience in order to raise awareness. This incident reminds us of the first Unitarian Universalist Principle: to respect the worth and dignity of every human being. We must speak out against social bias of any sort and are considering actions to encourage community self-reflection and identify appropriate responses to incidents such as this in our predominantly White town.

Our society may have moved beyond rampant lynchings, fire hoses, and Jim Crow laws. But false notions of race persist, and racism—though more subtle now—is evidenced in such acts as closing an ATM door in a person’s face and double-checking to make sure it is locked.

Assuming we all want a town where everyone feels welcome, we who enjoy the privileges of being White could begin by checking our reactions and the ways we make people “other.” We could also learn how to respond unambiguously to racism when we see it, not leaving those on the receiving end to weigh the costs and benefits of challenging the perpetrator or contending with the impact they are likely to feel long after. This is what it means to be loving, to respect the worth and dignity of every human being.

The Coretta Scott King quote inscribed in the new installation of The Embrace honoring the Kings reads in part:

That is the kind of love that impels people to go into the community and try to change conditions for others, to take risks for what they believe in.

There is no place here for ideas that reduce a fellow banker to a menacing stereotype.

Jane Blumberg
Immigrant Justice Task Force at First Parish in Concord
36 Lowell Rd.