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Book Review – The Black UU Survival Guide: 10 Steps for Surviving as a Black Unitarian Universalist and How Allies Can Keep It 100 by Xolani Kacela, Ph.D.
After reading Reverend Xolani Kacela’s book, The Black UU Survival Guide: 10 Steps for Surviving as a Black Unitarian Universalist and How Allies Can Keep It 100, I recommend that it should be included in every Unitarian Universalist (UU) congregation’s New Member Orientation or at least on a recommended reading list. It is an invaluable resource for not only new Black UUs , but BIPOCs in general and also for allies desiring to support Black UUs.
The book is short, seventy-one pages, however, the brevity works. As a writer myself, I know that length is not an indication of time and energy expended. Sometimes the shorter the reflections the greater the effort. When we as writers do not have space to pontificate and wax at length, that is when we are challenged to dig deep and write with inspiration and deep courage.
I suspect the book will inspire readers to check out Kacela’s other writings and publications. Kacela’s writing style works for this particular endeavor. I would describe his writing as “user friendly and straight forward.” His words are like a mentor instructing a mentee. Kacela cuts to the chase and he tells it like it is with no holds barred. True to his title, Rev. Kacela keeps it 100, that is, real and authentic in The Black UU Survival Guide: 10 Steps for Surviving as a Black Unitarian Universalist and How Allies Can Keep It 100.
In this succinct and well-organized handbook, Reverend Kacela accomplishes his self-proclaimed goal, “I hope to make the way easier for others coming up in the community.” It is clear that Rev. Kacela has been astutely paying attention, reflecting, asking questions and analyzing his observations, first as a Black UU member and later as a minister.
Kudos to him for his astute recognition that such a guide was needed in our sea of white UU faces and culture. And like the visionary prophetic individual that he is, he stepped into the gap and wrestled with the challenge of telling a story that is his individually, but also reflects the experiences and challenges of so many other Black UUs. I predict this handbook will become an invaluable resource for Black people coming into UUism as well as those senior UUs, like myself, that have languished in the vineyard of UUism over the years. My thirty years confirm Reverend Kacela’s reflections. I had many moments of yes, amen! And a few, oh, that is a truth I had not thought about. The book prompted a deep resonance in my reading of it. And I predict it will inspire numerous and compelling YESSSSSes among other Black UUs!
Jesse King, the first Black Chair of the Unitarian Universalist Ministerial Fellowship Committee (MFC) states, “I wish this book had been available when I returned to the UU church as an adult.” King sums up the value of the handbook with these heartfelt words, “Reverend Kacela provides useful tools and tactics for navigating the cultural minefield. If you are white, the book provides instructive, sobering strategies to create a culture of belong.”
I recommend that the MFC consider adding this handbook to their recommended list for Anti-racism, Anti-oppression and Multiculturalism readings. I know that the journeys of Black UUs has been affirmed and made visible because of Rev. Xolani Kacela’s dedication and sacrifice of time and energy.
Reverend Kacela, you done good!
— Reviewed by Rev. Dr. Qiyamah A. Rahman