Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Sky's Intervention, UU's Response, and Banning

I may have to hang this picture up on all the UU buildings...

After last's post about my conversation with EarthSoul, I messaged both CAORANN and CAORANN Council Member Sky to make sure I was going about things in the proper manner (OKAY so I was paranoid that I was speaking over Native voices and I really didn't want that...) After realizing that the rules of the group didn't exclude people who have never attended a physical Spirit Circle meeting, I invited her (and then she invited her friend Jamez) into the UU Pagan Facebook Group. 

I did change the above message to reflect that the group's rules allowed people to be added if they wanted to be part of the discussion, so I did not wait for the admin to add Sky herself. As seen here:

See that last sentence before the "Goddess Bless"? That's what I'm referring to.

Also, Ryan (the organizer of the group currently) was told by the Rev. Frank to message Sky, according to Sky. He never did. Whether this was a breakdown in communication between Ryan, Rev. Frank, and/or Sky, or if Ryan just did not want to discuss this with her, is not clear. Either way, it seemed like this could circumvent that block while still honoring Rev. Frank's request.

 Now, the majority of Sky's conversations with EarthSoul I could not see since he blocked me. I did grab Sky's end of the conversation, that included EarthSoul mistakenly thinking that Catholicism "smudges" (they do not call their ceremony that. In fact, the ceremony does not have a name though the incense and instrument to burn the incense have Latin-based names.) (I went to a Roman Catholic Church for nearly 15 years.)

I didn't screencap her end, since that felt like partial of the conversation. Also, these screencaps aren't necessarily in order since I was following all of this while trying to move into an apartment. I was exhausted and saw everything at 2am.

(those last two are both from Mrs. EarthSoul.)

^ I am so impressed with how Sky phrased this, because she is 110% right in calling out this hypocrisy. I did add some more hypocrisy in EarthSoul's post:

During my time offline, Sky invited Kathryn--an ally to NA communities and a council member of CAORAN. She posted a few links, and also this message (I repeated her Facebook details so that chopping off the message wouldn't lead me to forgetting who was posting):

After this, Kathryn removed herself from the group because she saw what I think a lot of people knew: this was going to result in nothing changing. I am really grateful that Sky wanted to help people understand the NA problems and conflicts with cultural appropriation, but people like the EarthSouls don't want to listen. And it's really, really sickening that someone would tell a person they are wrong or "too biased" when that person is explaining how a behavior is oppression against them.

Ah, but then Ryan got online and basically flipped verbal tables. I responded to each individually.

(My mistake in not screenshotting those articles she posted.)

This really pissed me off--I won't be polite about it. I have done nothing but transparent. I don't appreciate that keeping receipts about this sort of thing is a "waste of time" since I think having evidence is extremely important; especially when the topic is about what someone said. 

And I still am miffed that there was a meeting held about me without myself being present. Yet I get accused of being passive aggressive? Ugh.

Other messages that were posted, but I never responded to:

I imagine Kate is referring to me inviting Sky and Jamez, and indirectly Kathryn to the group? (Again with this non-direct messages...) But again, the group rules encouraged to invite people who wanted to be part of conversation. They wanted to be part of conversation. I don't see how that violated any boundaries?

Also, whatever Ryan. Whatever.

Before going to bed, I wrote this post to the group separate of all the other posts (knowing that it would most likely result in me being banned):

And that last sentence is basically the feelings I have about UU at this point.

I am floored and in drastic disbelief that this UU Pagan Group and even by extension the UU Church are about justice and social justice when they choose to silence voices who stand up to their oppression. Sky is not some armchair activist--she's as real as they come, with attending protests, standing up to appropriators in her area, and so forth. She's so respected in her community and by her peers. I felt so humbled that she wanted to help the UU Pagan Group learn about cultural appropriation with a direct Q&A, as she's such a respected and experienced NA activist. Yet...none of that mattered to the EarthSouls or Kevin (and the person liking the removal of them.) Nothing mattered because she did not budge from the communities' decisions about how outsiders should approach their religion and culture.

It's really, really sickening. If there was ever an example of bad ally-ship, this church would be it. If they can't understand that the voices of the oppressed come before their privilege views, then they aren't allies. (Separately, an individual of the UU church treated a local LGBTAQ+ activist leader rudely as well as a bisexual volunteer at the local Pride Event. While at the time it seemed like a minor issue, I'm thinking this issue of ally-ship is a widespread UU problem. Talking about activism without discussing privilege and what being an ally is about results in these problems...which is awful, because I know there are probably a lot of people at the church who want to be good allies but aren't being called out when they unknowingly contribute to the oppression because "their intentions are in the right place." Intentions only go so far, and they can't make change if they aren't funneled into beneficial actions.) 

Anyways. This might (probably?) be my last post about the UU Pagan Group. This makes it the second group of Omaha for me to be banned from. The other two Pagan groups in Omaha are the ADF Grove (which I will probably never join) and the other is the White Tiger Coven. The WTC is a coven based off Silver Ravenwolf and her teachings, sooo I have never even given it a thought about joining it. 

So as always, please let me know if I stepped over any boundaries in the conversations.


  1. I'm trying to recall which links I posted. I think these may have been some of them:

    "For All Those Who Were Indian in a Former Life"
    by Andrea Smith

    "Plastic Shamans and Astroturf Sun Dances:
    New Age Commercialization of Native American Spirituality
    By Lisa Aldred

    "White Americans and 'Indigenous' Identity"
    - which I wrote after a run-in with an Occupy group that was overrun with appropriators and pretendians, the worst of whom turned out to be UUs.

  2. I know this is old, but being UU I wanted to pipe up. There is discussion about cultural appropriation happening in the UUA on both national & local levels. Each congregation is independent, and makes its own decisions about liturgy, programming etc. Likewise with CUUPs chapters. So some UU communities and individuals are going to be more sensitive about this than others. Personally I think a lot of the problem is the influx of Paganism in UUism comes from the feminist & environmental movements from white folks that think they are being multicultural & open-minded by adding in "shiny spiritual bits" and are into a "We are All One" universalist mentality, while disregarding cultural differences. It's hard to change an institutional culture that is already in place- my church sticks mostly to generic or Christian-based material, so at least I can start out without the spiritual magpie problem. But if you are newer to UUism and this congregation in particular it will be a lot harder to make a change, you will need allies who have been around longer.