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Recommendation for Youth of Color Leadership School

Dear Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries,

Miles Manuel-Scott and the Manuel-Scott family have attended for nearly as long as I have served the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Sterling. Over the past 8 years I have appreciated a deepening relationship with Miles, Langston (younger brother,) Kevin (father,) and Wendi (mother.) We have shared beautiful evenings, celebrating creativity and diversity, and we have had difficult conversations about the role and capacity of Unitarian Universalism in building the world we dream about, an anti-racist, anti-oppressive world. Miles has grown wise in the care of his family, and has learned to be both nurtured by a Unitarian Universalist congregation, and critical of the white cultural dominance in the Unitarian Universalist milieu.

Miles is brave - he does not shy from difficult conversations or difficult choices. When his family suggested a limited stay at a boarding school to better his opportunity for a good education, he accepted the challenge and thrived.

Miles is caring - he gives big hugs to me and to others in our congregation, and is interested to hear the stories of peers and adults.

Miles is an individual - he has his own sense of style and his own interests. He doesn’t fear being ‘the only one’ doing or appreciating something unique. While I have seen this in Miles as a strength, perhaps it might also pose a minimal challenge for his engagement. Still, I have no reservations regarding Miles’ capacity to deeply and meaningfully participate in the Leadership School.

Furthermore, it’s my understanding the the boarding school where Miles attended was primarily composed of students with European American heritage. Loudoun County, where he currently lives, has a diverse populous but the cultural context is still decidedly (and sometimes aggressively) ‘white’ centric. The opportunity for Miles to be in a context where he is unique, but not primarily for his apparent black or African American identity, would serve him in powerful and meaningful ways. In addition, I am over-the-top excited for Miles to be in a Unitarian Universalist context where he can experience our faith tradition, beyond the oppression of white privilege that makes claim to most if not all of our congregations.

It would be my great hope to welcome Miles home from this endeavor with an invitation to brief our Journey Toward Wholeness Team on his experience. Something tells me he will emerge with some excellent ideas for the future of UUCSterling. It will be my job to prepare our team and our congregation to listen, and transform.

In Faith,

Rev. Anya Sammler-Michael