Carol encounters Bike life

Carol is a local bike activist, and she’s been working with MoveSanMateo to promote bike lanes in North Central, our old neighborhood in San Mateo (which we got priced out of when our landlord sold the building we lived in).

So when she heard that bo2focused was organizing a bike ride in North Central, the neighborhood where he grew up, she got other MoveSanMateo bicyclists to go and join their ride.

It wasn’t just a bike ride, it was Bike life. What is Bike life? It’s a subculture. It’s a bunch of young bike riders popping wheelies on city streets. Bike life sometimes puts together big rides, not unlike Critical Mass or Bike Party put together big rides. Just like Critical Mass, Bike life sometimes annoys motorists by filling up the public right of way with so many bicycles that cars and trucks have to slow down.

bo2focused posted some videos of Saturday’s ride, and Carol appears at the beginning of one of the videos, talking to one of the vendors who showed up.

Carol’s brief appearance in a Bike life Instagram video

Carol says she was probably the only bicyclist there who was over 40. She was also one of the few women, and one of the few white people. The Bike life people drifted in over next next couple of hours, and at last they started riding through North Central. Wheelies that last five or ten minutes, and bicyclists weaving around one another, are characteristic of Bike life. Carol decided to drop to the back of the pack, and then at a traffic light she lost the Bike life group. So she rode over to Wursthaus, where some of her MoveSanMateo bicyclist friends were hanging out and eating lunch to celebrate City Council approving the North Central bike lanes.

Bike life is not known for being cautious. After Carol left the ride, Bike life kind of took over the intersection at Delaware and Fourth. The police were called out, including a motorcycle cop who attempted to follow one of the bicyclists….

Click on the screen grab above to see the video on Instagram

Embarrassingly for the police officer, his motorcycle fell down. The Bike life group rode off down Delaware.

Continue reading “Carol encounters Bike life”

Wait, what?!

A new study from Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) looks into religious affiliations of QAnon devotees. QAnon devotees believe that governments, media outlets, and world finances are in the control of pedophiles who worship Satan. They also believe that there’s some kind of big convulsion coming that will get rid of all the powerful elites, allowing the world’s true leaders (like Donald Trump) to return to their rightful positions of power. And QAnon devotees believe that real American patriots are gonna have to get their guns and use violence to save America.

41 million Americans believe in QAnon — roughly 16% of the population. We usually think of QAnon devotees as white Protestant evangelicals. But you can find QAnon devotees in many different religious groups. For example, 17% of all QAnon believers are “Nones,” religiously unaffiliated Americans.

PRRI also looked at specific religious groups to determine what percentage of each religious group were QAnon devotees. So while 17% of QAnon devotees are Nones, only 11% of Nones are QAnon devotees. Hispanic Protestants had the highest percentage of QAnon devotees, at 27%. Interestingly, 17% of all Buddhists are QAnon devotees, whereas only 14% of white mainline (non-evangelical) Protestant Christians were QAnon devotees. And 7% of Unitarian Universalists are QAnon devotees.

Wait, what?!

7% of us are QAnon devotees. So if there are roughly 200,000 Unitarian Universalists, that means there are 14,000 Unitarian Universalists who are QAnon devotees. Well, I guess we can take comfort that there’s only one group — Jews — with a smaller percentage of QAnon devotees (5%).

But still….

Teaching and critical race theory

Classroom teacher and public intellectual Jose Vilson has a post on his blog on “the work we must do” in public education. After pointing out that our guiding principle should be “educating for an informed democracy,” he provides good advice on how to respond to the misguided critics of critical race theory:

“We can say ‘critical race theory has two tenets: 1) we have systems that depend on racial hierarchy and 2) we can do something about it.’ We’ve been doing this work towards a better democracy for decades and can’t shy away from it by going on the defensive. We teach the truth without apology. We’re unafraid because we know our communities trust in us to do this work and we know history will look kindly on those who put justice, compassion, and the truth in front of young people who need it the most.”

I know that I’ve been responding to the silly attacks on critical race theory by pointing out how those attacking it don’t seem to know what critical race theory actually is. Critical race theory is not, for example, the same thing as the Frankfurt School of Marxism, despite what some pundits would have us believe.

But I think Vilson is right. There’s no reason to go on the defensive. Instead, we can meet these attacks head on. Maybe some people don’t like “critical race theory,” but racial hierarchy is real. Since a fundamental purpose of education should be to strengthen democracy, then we of course we should talk with children about the places where democracy has fallen short. Of course we will address all topics in a developmentally appropriate way, but there is no reason to lie to children.

The UUA really needs to do this

Within the past couple of hours, Religion News Service has posted an article titled “Reform movement publishes extensive report on sexual misconduct in its youth programs.” The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) commissioned an outside law firm to investigate sexual misconduct in their movement’s youth programs and summer camps over the past half century. Then URJ published the report in its entirety, with no redactions whatsoever, on their website.

I’m impressed that URJ has both commissioned this investigation, and that they’re being completely open and transparent about the results. Really impressed. Really, really impressed. Mind you, this investigation didn’t extend to individual congregations; that would have been a much more difficult task. Nevertheless, by commissioning this investigation, the URJ has set the standard for individual congregations.

It’s time for the Unitarian Universalist Association to commission a similar investigation into our denominational youth ministries. I was very active in denominational youth activities in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and I heard enough stories back then to make me think that an investigation would turn up more sexual misconduct than anyone would feel comfortable with.

If the UUA were to commission a law firm to carry out this kind of investigation, what should we look for? We should look for exactly what the URJ looked for: sexual misconduct by adults (anyone over age 18) against minors (anyone under age 18); sexual misconduct between minors; and sexual misconduct between adults at youth activities. As I look back 50 years to 1972, at a minimum the following programs should be investigated: “ConCon,” the former continental youth conference; district youth conferences; and any other programs or summer camps run by Liberal Religious Youth (LRY) or its successor Young Religious Unitarian Universalists (YRUU).

The UUA doesn’t have a great track record of investigating and publicly admitting the sexual misconduct that’s happened in our denomination. This is a grand opportunity for us to do the right thing. I hope our denominational leaders will follow the shining lead of the Reform Jews.

Coloniality and gender

I seem to have very little time these days, as the Omicron surge winds down, and as our congregation opens up again (or maybe re-opens up? — or is it re-re-opens up?). Nevertheless, I’m slowly making my way through some essays by Maria Lugones, and I’m currently reading “The Coloniality of Gender.” In this essay, she critiques Anibal Quijano’s theoretical work on global capitalism for his “complicity with the gender system.” In other words, many males who write about colonialism ignore how women are dominated.

But Lugones is also laying out another way to analyze gender, a model which she calls “the modern colonial/gender system”:

“In Quijano’s model of global capitalist Eurocentered power, ‘capitalism’ refers to the ‘structural articulation of all historically known forms of control of labor or exploitation, slavery, servitude, small independent mercantile production, wage labor, and reciprocity under the hegemony of the capital-wage labor relation.’ (‘Colonialidad del Poder y Clasificacion Social,’ Festschrift for Immanuel Wallerstein, part I, Journal of World Systems Research, V. xi, #2, summer/fall 2000). In this sense, the structuring of the disputes over control of labor are discontinuous: not all labor relations under global, Eurocentered capitalism fall under the capital/wage relation model, though this is the hegemonic model. It is important in beginning to see the reach of the coloniality of power that wage labor has been reserved almost exclusively for white Europeans. The division of labor is thoroughly ‘racialized’ as well as geographically differentiated. Here we see the coloniality of labor as a thorough meshing of labor and ‘race.’”

Lugones connects colonialism, capitalism, gender, and race. This has some interesting implications for the way we Unitarian Universalists think about anti-oppression work.

Not OK

Someone pointed out to me that Star Island has posted an interesting job opening. Star Island, for those of you who aren’t familiar with it, is a retreat center off the coast of New Hampshire that was founded by Unitarians and liberal Congregationalists, and remains affiliated with the United Church of Christ and the UUA.

The position, titled “Island Minister/Beloved Community Project Manager,” will “work to further Star Island Corporation’s Beloved Community Project — a diversity, equity, and inclusion initiative that is a core strategic priority of the Star Island Corporation (SIC).” This is a laudable goal, and it’s simply amazing that a nonprofit would hire a full-time year-round staffer to oversee diversity, equity, and inclusion.

There’s just one problem. The job posting does not list the salary range. Instead, applicants are told to submit their “salary requirements.”

I call bullshit.

The reason I call bullshit — and the reason that I use such a strong word to describe their action — is that refusal to include a salary range in a job posting is in itself a discriminatory act. In fact, in some jurisdictions, it is now illegal to post a job with no salary range: BBC news recently reported that Colorado now requires all job posting to include the hourly wage or the salary range. Similarly, SHRM recently reported that New York City will require all job posting in the city to include salary ranges. Why? Manhattan Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal says, “Failure to include a salary range would be considered a discriminatory practice.” That’s right, a discriminatory practice.

BBC has also reported: “Research shows that the pay gap, which is well documented, partly stems from the ‘ask gap’: the difference in salary expectations between groups, which undercuts women and minorities in particular. Closing this gendered and racialised ‘ask gap’ can pay major dividends for careers, reducing long-term salary inequality.”

Star Island is engaging in a discriminatory hiring practice — a practice that’s illegal in Colorado and New York City — in order to hire a staffer who will oversee diversity, equity, and inclusion. Oh, the irony. If you’re someone who has connections to Star Island (especially if you make donations to them), please contact their board and CEO and call them out on this racist, sexist practice.

We also need to call out all the UU congregations that post jobs with no salary range. Some day if I ever have time, I’m going to go through the job postings on the UUA “Jobs Board” and the LREDA employment postings and make a list of all the congregations that post jobs with no salary range — a sort of “Hall of Shame,” showing which congregations have racist, sexist hiring practices.

This is an equity issue that’s easy to fix. Let’s fix it.

Noted without comment

“…[there are] levels in what counts as political. As you dare to witness police arresting people, or dare to ask a woman who is saying ‘no’ to a man’s hold whether she’s all right, whether she wants to leave, you notice that it is quite different to do that than to organize a demonstration against Anglo takeover of land and water in the U.S. Southwest. It is all beyond the pale, but the latter is more easily understood as political — it is afforded a kind of sociality — that the others may lack. So, there are levels of disruption, levels of resistant, in terms of the political sense that the act makes. Foundations that fund political projects often look for political activity that makes a particular kind of ‘within-bounds’ sense. It is important to take stock of the ease of acceptance, since there is a need to try to roam more deeply into the social to understand who’s paying for one’s acceptability.”

— Maria Lugones, Pilgrimages/Peregrinajes: Theorizing Coalition Against Multiple Oppressions (Rowman & Littlefield, 2003), p. 2.