The Anti-Racist Glossary

By Mel Harkrader Pine

Last winter, I was as clueless as you probably are about the specialized anti-racist lingo that now dominates the hierarchy of the Unitarian Universalist Association and, I’m told, the United Church of Christ and other liberal religions. But I’m a fast learner. So — with an assist from this blog’s co-founder, Rev. Kate Braestrup — I’m offering, as a public service, this handy glossary.

Feel free to attach these definitions to your refrigerators, or as we privileged persons of Jewish heritage say:

And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates. — Deuteronomy 6: 8-9

Magnifier on open book

Beloved Community — A religious sect in which white persons may speak only to quote, to praise, or to introduce black persons.

Civil Rights Era — An insignificant period in the 1960’s when laws were passed but nothing changed. [See Voting Rights]

Black — Depends on skin tone and politics. Barack Obama is; Clarence Thomas is not. African-American police officers are not. If you need a definition, then you’re not.

Defensiveness — Replying to personal insults, or disagreeing with any analysis of one’s character, if the insults or analysis come from a person of color.

Harm — The devastating result of ideas counter to one’s own, if one is a POCI or a white liberal who knows what’s best for POCI.

Micro-Aggression — A very subtle expression of white supremacy that is nonetheless excruciating and debilitating to its object. Examples: mispronouncing a name or asking someone with a strong accent where they are originally from.

Of Color — Persons who are not white, or who are white with family histories in Mexico, Central or South America and whom black activists have declared victims of oppression. [See POCI]

POCI — It redundantly stands for “people of color and indigenous peoples.” NOTE #1: White people with family histories in Mexico, Central or South America may qualify for inclusion in POCI, but see restriction in Of Color. NOTE #2: Black persons may sometimes include themselves in POCI but always get deference as more oppressed than other POCI, with the possible exception of the indigenous peoples. Note #3: Prior to  April 1, 2017, UUA Past President Peter Morales was a person of color. Now he is not, and never has been.

Police — Murderous agents of white supremacy. They are presumed guilty, even before charges are filed.

Tone Policing — Objecting to personal insults made by persons of color.

Voter Suppression — Laws written with the racist expectation that POCI are as capable as white persons of acquiring a driver’s license or state ID.

Voting Rights — What good are they if the people we like don’t get elected? [See Civil Rights Era]

White — Persons who are neither black nor of color. All such persons are racists and contribute to the White Supremacy Culture. [Note: Only white persons may be racist because all white persons have more power than all POCI.]

White Centering — Occurs when one or more white person(s) do or say anything.

White Fragility — A failure on the part of a white person to agree that he/she/xhe  is retroactively completely responsible for slavery, the Jim Crow era, stop-and-frisk, black imprisonment, and any or all racial oppression throughout history and around the globe.

White Privilege — Term that brings newly woke white persons to tears.

White Supremacy Culture — The root cause of everything that a woke progressive of color does not like.

$5.3 Million — Hey, why not? If it makes you feel good, do it. Especially if it’s other people’s money.

Copyright 2017 © Mel Harkrader Pine


  1. I’m really not sure how I feel about this post. I know you both to be people deeply concerned about racial justice and the way forward for Liberal Religion. But I don’t think these are good definitions for the way they’re used by most UUs; though in a mordant way perhaps they are for a certain vocal subset of the BLUU activists. I think you really need to clarify who you are lampooning.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that ambivalence and discomfort is important, 100%. How should/would most UUs define those terms? Can those terms ever be used unseriously? If not, why not?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ugh. Go read the Commission on Appraisal’s “minutes,” which say nothing but congratulate themselves on accomplishing so much business in four days of retreat meetings.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think it’s difficult to overstate the power of those labels in the present climate. The best weapon against all manner of untruth is humor, and UUs are fast-becoming a humorless (and therefore dreary) bunch.

    Remember when we used to laugh at ourselves?!?

    Liked by 2 people

  4. When one writes with sarcasm and (I hope) humor, it’s easy for readers to miss the point intended. I have seen that especially in Facebook comments. So I thought I’d add here something I posted on FB:

    What the piece is about is jargon. When a group claiming to be a religion starts twisting words like pretzels to fit a particular ideology, and those new definitions become the standard group-speak, it is growing close to being a cult. Case in point: Scientology.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. It’s jargon, but it’s not just jargon.

    Cops and doctors, to name just two examples, have an intra-group vocabulary that, when deployed in the presence of people who don’t understand it, can have an exclusionary or even intimidating effect. A good cop or a good doctor would not expect citizens or patients to know the jargon, but more importantly, the rest of us are not required to parrot it on pain of sanction.

    One of the features of this vocabulary is that it functions within and on behalf of a closed theological system—just like Marxism. If you point out that Marx’s theory is incoherent and illogical, you’ll merely reveal yourself to be afflicted with “bourgeoise thinking.” You can be ignored or—depending—forcibly reeducated. When other scientists challenged Freud, he promptly accused them of neurosis, or a failure to adequately sublimate the whatsis. And, of course, there are forms of Christianity wherein, if you ask for evidence for the existence of the Trinity, you’re obviously a tool of the devil and can be ignored (or, you know, burnt).

    In totalitarian regimes, freedom of speech is not constrained only when words are forbidden, but also when other words —with specified meanings—are compelled. The intention is to make it impossible to challenge or even escape the dominant narrative.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. For example, within the last 24 hours on UU-populated Facebook pages, I have been labelled as “defensive” and as engaging in “speech policing,” both of which can be found in the glossary. And it’s all about expressing an opinion.


  6. You could also add “police.” You know, the murderous racists who, as agents of white supremacy, “deliberately target black people for demise” and also, the only people in America who should be allowed to have guns.


    1. I took a slightly different angle on “police.” See what you think. Also, I had a term wrong and was reminded of that when I saw it used against me. It’s “Tone Policing,” not “Speech Policing.”


    1. The difference between the police and Weinstein/Moore is in the type of crime they are assumed guilty of, so including “murderous” in the definition is, I think, an important addition. Thank you.


    2. One case after another of rush to judgement, accusations without any substance, and the worst of all, anonymous charges (Keillor) given validity in the court of public opinion. The “purity frenzy” is in full cry.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It’s not a good time to be a white male. And one liberal woman friend of mine says it not a good time to be a liberal white male, because they hang out with feminist women, who are more likely to make accusations.

        Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s