Workshops Addressing Racism at Annual Sessions

Addressing Racism

The workshops at our 2015 Annual Sessions feature a large array of opportunities for Friends to learn, explore, tell stories, discover and share knowledge and wisdom on topics related to addressing racism in ourselves, our community and the world. Fully one third of the offered workshops are on this topic. The Undoing Racism Group recruited leaders and curated a set of workshops that are relevant for Friends who are just starting to learn, Friends who have been on this path a long time and everywhere in between. The workshop descriptions are below.


“There’s Not a Problem in Our Meeting”: Working on White Racism in Your (not so diverse) Meeting
Have you heard the call of our Yearly Meeting to learn more about racism in our Meetings? Are you not sure how or why to start that work? Are you afraid that you, or your Meeting, aren’t ready to take this on? Susan Christian and Shani Taylor have been part of a team of servant leaders working on these and other questions with Green Street Monthly Meeting and will share Green Street’s process so far. In this workshop, we will ask you to consider why, and how, we are all complicit in larger systems of oppression.Our particular focus will be to understand together how systemic racism connects with other oppressions, and makes its way into personal interactions in our Meetings and beyond. Middle School Friends and older.
– Shani Taylor & Susan Christian, Green Street Friends Meeting

Love is the First motion; healing the fears that divide us
In this interactive workshop we will explore together steps to reach beyond barriers that divide us. We will reach for deeper understanding that we are one family living within a fragile biosphere that makes life possible. Participants will engage with the following questions: How does drawing fully on Friends spiritual practices give us the courage to reach across racial, class and cultural divisions? What skills do we need to connect authentically with people whose beliefs and experiences challenge us while also remaining true to our own? Having learned from the wisdom of the group, the workshop will end with an exercise that asks Friends to make a specific commitment to cross one significant line respectfully within yourself and then reach out to connect with someone who challenges you.
– O.O., Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting and Margaret Mansfield, Mount Holly Monthly Meeting

Is it just a picture? How Understanding Imagery Creates Conversations about the Intersectionality of Race, Gender, and Norms
Imagery in magazines, roadside billboards, advertisements in newspapers, television, and sidebars while internet surfing shapes our identity and perceptions of others. Throughout this interactive workshop, we will engage and interrogate media images. Guiding queries will be: How do images from mass media interfere with how we act on inspiration and messages from The Divine Light? How do images impact how we love one another? Do images direct us more toward self and group righteousness rather than love and The Divine Light? How do images serve as foregrounds that prevent the acceptance of all humanity? This workshop centers on dialogue from the participants. At the end of the session, participants, operating in small groups, will share their thoughts, reflections and feelings.
– tonya thames taylor (lower case is intentional), Fallowfield Monthly Meeting

Telling our stories about racism and the lessons to be learned
As an African American woman and a white European heritage woman we work as a team to model listening to each other and the conviction that all people are good. Through sharing stories about our lives and the effects of racism on all of us, we seek to build a deeper understanding of how the unawareness of racism for those of us who are white affects and makes life more difficult for our Friends of color. We use our stories to look at reality and challenge myths and stereotypes.
– Victoria Green, Green Street Friends Meeting and Kathy Miller, Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting

Organizing with the Spirit: Small Group Justice Ministry
Want to bring mystics and activists together for powerful spiritual work in the world? In this workshop Friends will learn the key elements of a small group justice ministry model focused on creating the Beloved community by practicing restorative justice and respectfully companioning communities most impacted by injustice. Friends will learn how companioning, reflecting, storytelling, and acting together with a committed group can help to create sustainable, spiritually grounded, deeply connected work for a more just and peaceful world. Together we will experience several aspects of the model and reflect on how this can support our meetings in reclaiming our spiritual power and our social testimonies.
– Lucy Duncan, Green Street Friends Meeting

Exploring the Dynamics of Mainstreams and Margins in our Faith Community
This session is intended to engage everyone in the room with an opportunity to name what they see as the “-isms” in the world at large, and how these show up in our Quaker community (ourselves, our Monthly Meetings, our Yearly Meeting). We will each have an opportunity to reflect on our experiences of being in the “mainstream” and in the “margins” in our lives. We will identify such events, and the associated feelings, in our own history and listen deeply to the experiences of others…How might these memories, and the feelings they prompt, bridge to greater understanding among us? How might they lead to change? Come find out in this loving, multi-generational, session!
–Jen Karsten, Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting

A Visual Walk: A Physical Definition to White Privilege
The workshop will use a privilege walk to help attendees create a tangible understanding of, and their involvement in, white privilege. A privilege walk consists of lining participants up in a straight line to simulate life’s journey and the idea that all people are created equal. Then, a series of questions are asked one at a time, leaving time for participants to comply with the statements. At the end of the statements, the group has a more visual/physical definition of white privilege and the advantages that help to sustain it. After the activity, we will break into small groups for participants to debrief and share results of the activity and the ways they are actively trying to expose/debunk the exclusionary practices of white privilege/supremacy.
– Noah White, Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting

Racial Healing… What will it take?
Facilitators with the group will provide space for participants to share their experiences of interactions between races. Friends will provide prayerful listening and feedback through a number of exercises, including brainstorming, experience sharing and addressing assumptions. Responses may be shared in open discussion, by sharing art, or privately noted by journaling and art responses.
– Mimi Awtar Scalia, Mount Holly Monthly Meeting and Joan Gunn Broadfield, Chester Monthly Meeting

Quaker Trainers in Nonviolence for Mississippi Freedom Summer 1964
Learn how Charlie Walker, Philadelphia Quaker and staff trainer for this project in 1964, felt about the disappearance of Schwerner, Goodman and Chaney – people he had helped to train. Walker’s daughter will describe the effect this news had on the training sessions and how the people involved handled it. She will describe Walker’s principles of nonviolence, sharing his scrapbook, and George Lakey’s handbook written for the Freedom Summer, the history behind the project and its effect on the nation. Participants will role-play based on actual scenarios.
– Brenda Walker Beadenkopf, Concord Friends Meeting

Untying our tongues about becoming aware of skin color affecting everyday life
This workshop will encourage reflection on an early experience of being conscious of color affecting behavior. Activities include small-group telling and hearing of personal experiences and full-group attention to how we learn, what changes us as individuals and what changes institutions, and identification of our strengths going forward toward Beloved Community.
–Suzanne Day, Westfield Friends Meeting