Friends in PYM Encouraged to Attend the White Privilege Conference

Addressing Racism

Race, gender, sexuality, class, disability: these are ways we all experience some form of privilege, and we are all affected by that privilege. At our called meeting in January 2015, we affirmed our commitment to dismantling racism and white supremacy as a yearly meeting.  We are now blessed with a great opportunity to discover more ways to do that: The White Privilege Conference is being held in Philadelphia this year, April 15-17. This conference “examines challenging concepts of privilege and oppression and offers solutions and team building strategies to work toward a more equitable world.”

Designed to explore issues of privilege beyond skin color, WPC is open to everyone and invites diverse perspectives to provide a comprehensive look at issues of privilege. The annual event draws 1500 people from across the country, Friends among them. Maia Simon (Trenton), an attender at last year’s WPC in Louisville, describes it as “an eye-opener,” and “absolutely life-changing.” She gained many benefits, including tools for more effective communication with people of color and an expanded discussion with her white friends. “I now feel more confident and sure of myself and my message. I can place myself in the context of racial justice efforts, and I’ve lost my fear of offending others when I speak about it.”

WPC is a tremendous resource for our collective effort. There are workshops, exhibits, speakers, caucuses, and poetry throughout the event which challenge, support and teach. “We have committed to this path because we know we are called, and yet there’s a lot we don’t know, so we need to access every resource and every chance to learn that arises,” explained Christie Duncan-Tessmer, General Secretary.

Maia agrees. “This is an extraordinary opportunity for everyone in the yearly meeting. We have this chance, right in our own backyard, to delve into state-of-the-art scholarship and techniques that will move our anti-racism efforts forward.”

Friends in Philadelphia Yearly Meeting are encouraged to participate! All PYM Friends who attend the conference will be asked to bring what they learn back to their communities.  We want Friends to learn and be challenged – and then share that experience with others who didn’t attend.  Attenders could speak at a forum or FDS at their own meeting or other meetings.  They could write about their experience and share it through meeting newsletters or online.  They might want to arrange to meet up after the event.  Because of its flexible design, the new yearly meeting structure helps with this, offering a variety of ways Friends might answer the call to racial justice.

In addition to encouraging Friends to attend and to share what they experience, the Quaker Life Council has supported the WPC financially. Like several other Friends groups, PYM is part of the “host team” and has participated in the planning process in addition to contributing $2,500 at the “understanding” level. The council determined that further financial support they provide will be for assisting PYM members in attending the event.  They have set aside $2,500-$5,000 for this purpose with the notion that they may increase the amount if it is needed.

It could be an extraordinarily powerful thing if the council does need to allocate more funds because so many Friends want to attend. To hear Friend Maia describe it, PYM Quakers will be missing out if they don’t flock to WPC17 this year. “I wholeheartedly recommend attending this conference,” she affirms. “It is exciting, enlightening, and empowering.”

Registration Process

  1. Meetings that are able to offer financial aid are highly encouraged to support their members and attenders to whatever feasible degree – even to put up needed funds that would be reimbursed later. Please note that registrants can elect to pay by check, which means they can be registered without having to pay right away.
  2. Go to the FGC website to fill out a PRE-registration form.
  3. Upon completion of the FGC pre-registration form, you will be sent the FGC discount code.
  4. From here, you must complete the registration on the White Privilege Conference website, and provide the discount code when prompted for payment.
  5. Finally, forward your registration confirmation email to Zachary Dutton at zdutton@pym.org. Be sure to include the monthly meeting of which you are a member or active attender, and feel free to indicate the level of need you would ideally require.
  6. The funds set aside to support registration will be distributed in a way that allows the most people to receive aid while ensuring a meaningful degree of support. We won’t know the exact amounts until the conclusion of the registration process. We can’t promise we will be able to meet your need fully, but we will do our best.
  7. The deadline to receive aid from PYM is Monday, February 15. Because PYM funds are limited, we encourage Friends to register as early as possible. 
  8. All friends, and especially those who receive aid from PYM, will be asked to write, post to social media, visit or otherwise share their experience with their own meeting and other meetings to further awareness of the need for and ways to dismantle racism and white supremacy in our communities and beyond.