I'll admit to being offended by the idea that I've heard, phrased in different ways, that comes down to, "We'll never have integrated UU churches, because African-Americans want their 'own' church." It offends me because it seems to me to be a false dichotomy -- you can be a UU church or you can be a Black church -- you can't be both.
It makes me remember when I was a teenager, visiting a cousin of mine, who lived in a small town. Across from her house was a small African-American church. The members were outside, having some kind of a picnic, playing music. I was grooving to the beat. (Truth be told, I've been known to groove to anything, including ring tones.)
"Don't do that," she instructed me. "They don't like it when you dance to their music."
Is that where we still are? "Their" culture and "our" culture, and never the twain shall meet? "African-Americans are welcome in our churches. Our RE did a Kwanzaa skit last December and many of our members are voting for Obama!"
Okay, okay. I'll dial down the snarkiness.
Here's an idea. Rather than saying, "Why won't 'they' come to our churches?" why don't we help set up African-American UU churches ... where those who are white, Hispanic, Asian, and Vulcan :) are also welcome to attend?
I don't have a problem with the concept that people want to be with other people like themselves. That happens at every UU church in the US. The difference is, how we define "people like us."
Come Sunday morning, we want to be with people like us. For those of us who are white, defining "people like us" by race is so unnecessary, we don't even consider it. Really, the rest of your week, you never get the experience of being with other white, straight males*? So you need to go somewhere that you can have that unique experience?
Probably not. But many of us do have the experience of weaving our way through a weekday world of the politically conservative, the religiously not-progressive. A world where it is assumed that you are straight, Christian, and probably vote Republican. (Depending on where you live and what is your profession. YMMV.)
So, come Sunday morning, we want to be around people like us. Where people know how 'vegan' and 'Kucinich' are pronounced and the only gay jokes you'll hear are from your outrageous gay friend Mark. And even he will get a disapproving look. After the chuckle of understanding.
Sunday morning, we want to go to a sanctuary. We want to go to a place that feeds our soul. And I'm willing to bet that if we wound up with some churches that reflected a more charismatic, answering-back, "tell your neighbor, 'Respect and Dignity,'" "Amen!" African American UU Church, there'd be a lot of white UU's crashing the party. And I'd be one of them.
Because I want to be around people like me.
* Going for the most obvious example. You could also remove "straight." And you could remove "male." And leave it as just "white."