In the 1960’s Freedom Riders rode interstate bus lines in mixed race groups to advocate for desegregation in the south. Many Friends like Bayard Rustin, Norval Reece, and Samuel Snipes devoted their time to collaborative work on the civil rights movement.
Today, Friends and Friends Meeting communities are looking for modern equivalents as they work to embrace equity for all people.
That work often starts very close to home with an examination of one’s personal upbringing, habits, limits, and capacities. It also involves looking at the consequences of legislation designed to make it harder for people of color to access the same freedoms and rights that all people should benefit from. It’s important that this work not be done in isolation, and that it is spiritually grounded. Otherwise the work is much harder.
A New PYM Collaborative is Here to Help With This Work
The Antiracism Collaborative (ARC) is a newly constituted group of Friends from across the Yearly meeting committed to connecting support and resources among meetings.
From their own considerable experience in their monthly meetings in clerking and other leadership roles, professional lives within numbers of institutions, and their work on Quaker (and other) boards they are assembling supports for meeting communities. Their goal is to be present for the PYM Community.
Their mission is to:
- learn how Friends are facing the challenge of becoming antiracist,
- help meetings share their wisdom and worries about anti-racism work and
- support meetings who are moving to become antiracist communities.
What They Are Offering
Access to resources: books and blogs with stories to learn from; ideas for learning in groups; ongoing activities to be engaged with, and ways to engage groups who want to get involved with the work of equity and justice.
Best Practices: ARC members are committed to researching and identifying best practices and will be sharing what they know is most effective.
Connectivity: ARC can help to connect communities and share resources already in use across the yearly meeting. We will be contacting the Clerks of Meetings, Quarters, and Worship Groups shortly for brief interviews.
It’s Your Journey
Wherever you or your meeting may be on your journey toward enhancing equity and justice, members of the collaborative are actively seeking ways for all of us to join together in this work.
How to Find Out More
For more information, to share resources, to join or encourage others to join the collaborative, contact Antiracism Collaborative Clerk:
Wanda Wyffels at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As Friends, we seem to have a heightened aversion to, or fear of, the shadow side—those parts that we’d rather not see. We like to focus on the light as if there is no shadow, and I understand. This is not an unnatural desire. There is a belief operating there that says that if those things in the shadow were allowed to be seen, talked about, and acknowledged that we would surely die.
I like to say that we want to be the underground railroad Quakers, but not acknowledge that we were also the Quakers who required African Americans to sit on separate benches during meeting for worship. So we have this fear that we would die if the whole truth were brought to light. There is some truth here. If we truly acknowledge those parts that we deny—that may be our shame, our sorrow, our greatest fears—there will be death. And primarily I focus on the death of the illusion!
— Niyonu Spann, Letting Go of Illusion, Engaging Truth: Healing!, Michener Lecture, SEYM 2007