Blog Post #4
Our Reparations Task Force led the worship service on March 21 on Zoom. Here is a link to that service.
Here is our definition of Reparations for our congregation
Reparations are an ongoing commitment to be a part of a justice-making process that involves specific forms of repair for individuals, groups, or nations that have been harmed. To take responsibility for past and present harm, the reparations process must include:
- acting to stop the systems and practices that cause harm;
- changing the laws, institutions, and systems to ensure that the harm will not repeat;
- acknowledging and apologizing for the harm;
- compensating those who were harmed, including their descendants, family, and communities; and
- restoring individuals to the position they were in before the harm.
Reparations is a process of reconciliation and making amends for wrongs. Reparations are not a single act like an apology or making a one-time payment, instead reparations are many actions that aim to dismantle oppressive systems. So, only making an apology is not a reparation but making an apology and acting to stop the systems and practices that cause harm, and compensating those that were harmed would constitute reparations. Reparations are greater than the sum of their parts. Reparations are essential to the second principle of our faith – justice, equity, and compassion in human relations.
“If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” -Lilla Watson
“I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own. And I am not free as long as one person of Color remains chained. Nor is anyone of you.” – Audre Lorde
What would reparations look like in a church? Using the five guiding actions of reparations here are some examples of what First Parish could do:
Reparations that act to stop the systems and practices that cause harm could include:
- Continuing our ongoing commitment to uncover racism within ourselves, our church, and our community.
Reparations that change the laws, institutions, and systems to ensure that the harm will not repeat could include:
- Reviewing FPB policies, practices, and procedures to dismantle White Supremacy culture;
- Advocating for Black and Indigenous people of color to be in positions of power within our congregation, the UUA, and our broader community; and
- Enlisting the FPB endowment members to maintain socially responsible investments in the endowment portfolio.
Reparations that acknowledge and apologize for the harm;
- Recognizing on the FPB website the history of slavery in our congregation;
- Creating memorials in the cemetery or memorial garden for enslaved people;
- Marking tombstones, pews, and plaques of enslavers in the church; and
- Developing lesson plans and discussion group exercises about slavery on Cape Cod.
Reparations to compensate those who were harmed, including their descendants, family, and communities could include:
- Identifying and compensating the descendants of people enslaved by FPB members;
- Bequeathing and donating money to organizations run by Black and Indigenous people of color;
- Compensating the Wampanoag tribe for First Parish Brewster property;
- Creating a yearly memorial scholarship;
- Splitting plates for reparations; and
- Partnering with local organizations to fund endowments for Black and Indigenous communities of color.
Reparations to restore individuals to the position they were in before the harm could include:
- Individual parishioners willing their land or home back to the Wampanoag tribe.