Calls to Action and Resources for Racial Justice in the Ukrainian American and Ukrainian Canadian Communities

Targeted Action Items

These action items are specifically written for sectors of the Ukrainian North American community. For those who signed our Calls to Action, we hope that you will also champion these action items at your places of worship and cultural organizations. This is a living document, as UAC is committed to working with leaders in these institutions to enact changes. As we stated before, the calls to action below will demand earnest reflection, investments of time and, in some cases, money.

Whether a community group is already engaged in similar actions, or just starting to discuss how they can combat racial injustice, we encourage them to continue in their commitment to advancing racial equity in North America. We write with appreciation for these institutions, and wish to see them thrive in the future.
Suggested Action Items for Educational Institutions

Heritage and Foreign Language schools are a keystone for diaspora communities. In the classroom, youth are taught history, language, philosophy and aspects of cultural pride for Ukraine and its people. Schools and educational programs (including higher education) have a responsibility to teach cultural heritage without emphasizing ethnonationalism and exceptionalism, and to foster respect and admiration of non-white individuals inside and outside the Ukrainian community.

We call upon all Ukrainian educational institutions to reexamine their learning materials and textbooks, analyzing the way in which historic conflicts are reflected in modern prejudices. Thereafter, to omit or respectfully contextualize any content that stereotypes these racial or ethnic groups in their textbooks and learning materials.
We call upon all Ukrainian educational institutions to ban any racially-divisive pseudo-Biblical or pseudo-historical teachings that discredit the morality or worth of other peoples. This includes teachings that assert the exceptionalism of ethnic Ukrainians because of race, language or faith.
We call upon all Ukrainian educational institutions to teach their students about Ukraine’s historical ethnic minority groups, and its current ethnic and migrant diversity as well as the contributions made by these people to Ukrainian society.
We call upon all Ukrainian educational institutions with religious affiliations to create a curriculum that fosters religious diversity, the moral ethics of human dignity, and the works of Ukrainian philosophers.
We call upon all Ukrainian educational institutions without explicit religious affiliations to allow for parents to opt their children out of catechism classes.
We call upon all Ukrainian educational institutions to teach about the ideological diversity of Ukraine, including the history of nationalism, monarchism, socialism, anarchism, republicanism, democracy and others.

Suggested Action Items for Scouting and Youth Organizations

Summer camps and extracurricular activities are ways in which many young Ukrainians maintain their language skills and community ties. We must acknowledge that many of these organizations and activities are unique to the North American context, and are, as such, prone to reflect local racial biases. Young people, especially, bring experiences and attitudes from their “everyday” non-Ukrainian environments that might be different from their diaspora peers. It is up to the organizations to create safe and equitable environments for all youth, regardless of race or ethnicity, in every interaction. Likewise, these organizations have a responsibility to cultivate antiracist and civically-minded citizens of their respective countries.

We call upon all Ukrainian scouting and youth organizations to instate antiracism and anti-bullying training for their counselors, staff and boards of directors in order to protect participants of mixed heritage and of different ethnicity and race, and to teach youth how to be civically conscious members of society. For organizations that have existing inclusion policies, to revise them accounting for racial diversity and equity.
We call upon all Ukrainian scouting and youth organizations to create English-language resources for parents who do not speak Ukrainian on their organizations’ guiding principles, and ways in which the skills and philosophies the organizations teach contribute to an equitable society. Likewise, considering the linguistic diversity of parents and members, to issue all communications in both English and Ukrainian.
We call upon all Ukrainian scouting and youth organizations to establish projects with youth organizations of different racial or ethnic groups to better foster solidarity and mutual aid.
We call upon all Ukrainian scouting and youth organizations to direct service-learning initiatives to divested Black neighborhoods.
We call upon all Ukrainian scouting and youth organizations to republish song books in order to omit racist and misogynist stereotypes and or language about racial, religious, and ethnic groups.

Suggested Action Items for Communities of Faith

Ukraine was historically and is presently one of the most religiously diverse countries in the world. However, dominant narratives of Ukrainian identity have centered certain expressions of ethnicity and Christianity. Today, many people of various ethnicities and races may follow Ukrainian Christian traditions, but the diversity of faiths and practices that make up our diaspora must be recognized. It is imperative that our communities of faith be led by well-informed clergy, and that they create a welcoming atmosphere of unity, faith and love for humanity.

We call upon all communities of faith to welcome all people of good will into our houses of worship, in the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream.
We call upon all communities of faith to preach, teach, and practice in prayer through worship services and religious education an explicit theology of antiracism against the ideology of exclusivity that qualifies gatherings as ethnic congregations.
We call upon all communities of faith to offer prayer services, including memorials, for victims of racism throughout the communities in which they are located, including ecumenical prayer services with different faith groups.
We call upon all communities of faith to engage in local charitable work, such as the planting of community gardens, housing the homeless, and creating food pantries, especially by establishing ecumenical networks at the neighborhood level to invest in local communities.
We call upon all communities of faith to align with local chapters of networks for social justice and antiracism, such as the Movement for Black Lives and the Poor People’s Campaign, and in so doing, also to divest from racist organizations.
We call upon all communities of faith to promote and/or fund subscriptions to religious publications that cover racial justice like Sojourners, America, The Wheel, and the Forward as well as local newspapers for all clergy, catechists, and staff in order to inform religious approaches to racial equity.
We call upon all communities of faith to introduce catechetical material from Black theologians, especially those writing from Womanist perspectives, as they are complementary to indigenous Ukrainian spiritualities.
We call upon bishops and faith community leaders to condemn, in writing, ideologies that promote the biological and/or moral superiority of Ukrainians as an ethnicity or nation, including because of their Whiteness and/or Christianity.

Suggested Action Items for Community Organizations

Often made to serve and represent a community’s interest, or rally around a cause, community organizations actively or passively represent the Ukrainian community outside of the diaspora context. With this in mind, public faces need to exhibit understanding of racial and social dynamics, and a high capacity for growth and sensitivity.

We call upon elected officials who claim Ukrainian heritage and their campaigns to reject racial prejudices held by some Ukrainian constituencies, and not to race bait.
We call upon elected officials who claim Ukrainian heritage to use experiences of Ukrainian oppression to foster humility, responsibility, and solidarity, rather than to create false moral equivalencies that dismiss the experiences of others, especially in their search for justice.
We call upon all credit unions to examine their lending and investment practices so as to not perpetuate further de facto segregation.
We call upon ethnic congresses to issue public statements condemning systemic racism, and to participate in demonstrations for human rights with other ethnic congresses of historically and presently oppressed groups.
We call upon ethnic professional associations to contribute resources to racial justice, in collaboration with other professional associations and practices.

Suggested Action Items for Ukrainian-Oriented Businesses

Many businesses present themselves as Ukrainian cultural establishments such as restaurants and gift shops. Other businesses, such as law and medical practices, market themselves as service providers for Ukrainians. Given that these businesses claim to represent us, we call on them to actively address racial injustice. There is a direct community capacity in which we can help Black neighbors and divested areas through the capital we raise through community commerce.

We call upon all Ukrainian-oriented businesses to prominently post signs that Ukrainians, the victims of war, corruption, and famine, stand against systemic oppression and for Black lives. Please use this example freely.
We call upon restaurants and grocery stores to address food insecurity by supplying surplus to local food banks.
We call upon medical practices to become active and engaged in public health, and become aware of health disparity in their local communities, volunteering to address systemic inequities.
We call upon lawyers and law professionals to volunteer in local public defender programs or innocence projects.
We call upon service providers such as cleaners and home health providers to avoid marketing their business as “European” services. Applications of this practice imply that non-white service providers are unsafe to let into customers’ homes.

Suggested Action Items for Media

Ethnic media — print publications, community broadcasts and online outlets — serve a vital unifying role among our communities. But they also have great power to shape and guide community discourse on important subjects. We consume media of all languages while holding Ukrainian community media to a high standard. We must be conscious of the racial biases that work their way into our community news media, and ways in which those biases serve to divide, rather than unite.

We call upon Ukrainian diaspora media to study the role that North American print publications and broadcasters — notwithstanding their editorial boards’ partisan alignment — have and continue to perpetuate racial stereotypes, including unjust coverage that gives benefit of the doubt to powerful institutions.
We call upon Ukrainian diaspora media to enroll in professional organizations such as the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), in order to support Black journalists to cover local and international issues, as well as to receive resources on how to report the news in a racially equitable manner.
We call upon Ukrainian diaspora media to implement and publish ethics policies for all reporters and contributors, especially accounting for source citation and clearly delineating sponsored content, opinion pieces, and hard news reporting.
We call upon Ukrainian diaspora media to subscribe to and collaborate with other local ethnic/racial media news outlets, especially those covering Black communities.
We call upon Ukrainian diaspora media to make concerted efforts to interview and feature non-white people living in historically Ukrainian diaspora neighborhoods, especially when news stories cover local politics. Listen carefully and fairly present their experiences living alongside the Ukrainian community.
We call upon Ukrainian diaspora media to conduct equity audits of the experts published and interviewed on national and international issues of Ukrainian concern, and solicit more perspectives from non-white sources.

Suggested Action Items for Museums, Archives and Galleries

Ukrainian diaspora museums and archives are, in many ways, monuments to the immigrant experience and the public face of historical traumas and cultural expression to non-Ukrainians. However, museums must not be places where Ukrainian identity is carved into stone. They must be places of living culture and shared experiences. Ukrainians’ adjacency to Blackness has existed since the earliest migrations, but those encounters have been erased from Ukrainian diaspora history. Many museums also overlook the Ukrainian role in perpetuating settler colonialism in North America, wrongly insinuating that North America was empty before our arrival. We do not want to use museums to revise history, but reflect on it, and use them as springboards to racial solidarity, reconciliation, and nuanced mutual understanding.

We call upon museums and archives to produce exhibits, panels and/or scholarly content that examine the role of Ukrainian Canadians and Ukrainian Americans in colonization of North America and their region.
We call upon museums and archives to examine the intercultural relationships between their community and others in both Ukraine and their local area.
We call upon museums and archives to reach out to aforementioned communities in order to have perspectives from their viewpoints as well.
We call upon museums and archives that create Holodomor Famine-related events and exhibits to reach out and give a space for other ethnic groups who have been the victims of genocide to tell their history.
We call upon Ukrainian art galleries to commission new works and support artists of different ethnicities and races.

Suggestions Action Items for Artistic and Cultural Organizations

We are proud of Ukrainian cultural expressions, but we are also conscious that pride can turn into exceptionalism and the diminishing of other cultural and racial groups. Given the importance of artistic expression as a way of maintaining cultural belonging among the diaspora, arts and culture organizations must be conscious of potentially destructive or alienating practices. We also have the capacity to use our artistic resources to uplift the cultural expressions of marginalized racial groups that have been systemically diminished and discredited in our society.

We call upon all performing arts groups and organizations to participate in cultural exchanges with other groups. That also includes being patrons of other artistic presentations, as we expect the public to attend ours.
We call upon all performing arts groups and organizations to open events with “land acknowledgements,” which recognize that the freedom to present Ukrainian culture in North America is indebted to Black labor and the displacement of indigenous populations. You may refer to the land acknowledgement we have written here when constructing your own.
We call upon all performing arts groups and organizations to collaborate with and learn from other similar cultural institutions, especially from racial minorities.
We call upon all ethnic festivals to prioritize hiring Black and other economically disenfranchised vendors whenever possible.