A world that is accountable for past harms including slavery, colonialism, genocide, and other material and moral abuses will be a world better for everyone. The Grassroots Reparations Campaign sponsors a course to examine the history, spiritual, conceptual (ethical and moral) and practical dimensions of reparations as a global movement. Centered on the approach to reparation from the United Nations, the twelve-hour course explores the perspectives that justify and help many ground the case for faith-based reparations. The spiritual journey to uproot white supremacy externally and internally co-exists with working toward full reparations and abolition-democracy. Barb Kreider will offer some insights from this course. Click here or call 646-558-8656 and enter meeting ID 873 3565 8140 to be part of the conversation.
Book club! Moorestown Meeting attender Elizabeth will facilitate discussion of Kaye Gibbons’s award-winning short novel Ellen Foster. This story of a strong, smart girl and her challenging childhood is widely available in libraries and from booksellers. Click here or phone 646-558-8656 and use meeting ID 815 8781 6369 to join the conversation with our Anti-Racism Committee.
Author and activist Kimberly Jones went viral with a YouTube interview in which she asks, “How can we win?” Moorestown Friends Meeting’s Anti-Racism Committee recommends the interview highly; we’ll host a discussion of Jones’s perspective on race, protest, violence and economics for this Let’s Talk session on Thursday 22 July. Watch Jones’s seven-minute interview on YouTube – and maybe her 12-minute appearance on The Daily Show – then join us to discuss Jones’s ideas and our own perspectives; click here or phone 646-558-8656 and use meeting ID 815 8781 6369.
In the U.S., there are 71 Friends schools affiliated with the Friends Council on Education, serving PreK through high school students. What if all of those schools were sanctuary campuses, offering protection for their undocumented students and their families? Recently, AFSC and PYM decided to find out if any Quaker schools were having these same dreams of Quaker witness in the face of injustice.
Of the roughly 30 schools I spoke with, most had no sanctuary campus statements or other official policies regarding undocumented students. A handful of schools had procedural plans in place to guide staff through interactions with ICE on campus. San Francisco Friends School has shared their written guidelines. One Friends school had knowingly gone through the process of admitted an undocumented student, while a few others said they didn’t ask for any kind of documentation but have considered that some of their students might be undocumented. Even though many schools didn’t have policies in place, there was a hunger for more information about how to implement best practices for undocumented students.
Swarthmore College is the only Quaker-affiliated college to declare itself a sanctuary campus and only did so after direct pressure from students. Bryn Mawr, Earlham, Haverford, and Whittier colleges all follow sanctuary-type policies (supporting DACA students, not participating in E-Verify and not allowing ICE on campus without a signed warrant), but none have taken the step of using sanctuary language.
Beyond creating a safe learning environment for undocumented students, there is the possibility of Quaker schools using the same model as Quaker meetings and other churches who have taken individuals into sanctuary. ICE policy is to avoiding raiding schools as well as places of worship—how powerful would it be to offer sanctuary in 71 schools across the country? How powerful would it be to include radical actions like providing sanctuary as part of a Quaker education?
It’s more complicated than simply telling Quaker schools to be better. There are very few models for this kind of resistance, and many real concerns, such as becoming a target for enforcement or how sanctuary might interfere with a school’s relationships with the government agencies that issue student visas. Some of these fears have answers, but others will require experiments and test cases.
AFSC and PYM want to help connect Quaker schools to the resources that already exist. AFSC has gathered resources used by public schools as part of the “Sanctuary Everywhere” initiative. All of these documents could be translated into Quaker language that adds the weight of our faith to a moral imperative. Once these resources exist, we can begin to encourage Quaker schools to do more in a time of crisis.
So, if you’re a student, teacher, administrator, or board member at a Quaker school, consider using the Quaker Social Change Ministry manual with a group of students to form an accompaniment team, or think about how to adapt the board policy language and classroom instructional materials on AFSC’s Sanctuary in Schools webpage for your school. There are also guides for organizing protests in support of sanctuary policies.
Whatever you do, keep in touch with AFSC and PYM! Let us know what else you need to make your school a sanctuary.
–Emily McGrew, Quaker Voluntary Service Alumni Fellow, American Friends Service Committee
Maybe you’ve heard of FCNL.
I first came into relationship with Friends Committee on National Legislation by way of a push from a Friend. They said, “This is important, you are important, you should team up.”
So I attended Spring Lobby Weekend (begrudgingly!) in 2014 with expectations of feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, and disappointed in our government. But somehow, over a few days, FCNL sneakily transformed me into a hopeful lobbyist. I entered my representative’s office on Capitol Hill alone, prepared, centered, and, I believe, effective.
I had lobbied on ending the Authorization for Use of Military Force, an issue on which I certainly did not feel like an expert, but that I knew with my whole spirit was something that needed to be addressed in Congress. I was impressed by the smooth organization of that conference—how calm and prepared I felt in my new lobbying shoes. I was immediately energized by the 4 “We Seeks” that define the mission of FCNL’s operation:
We seek a world free of war and the threat of war
We seek a society with equity and justice for all
We seek a community where every person’s potential may be fulfilled
We seek an earth restored
I felt supported by the logical and radical concept of using morality as a common denominator. It felt right to say, “I know we have different views but I think we can agree that a society with equity and justice for all is something worth working for, and here’s what I think will help make that happen.”
I’m 26 years old, and since I was a teenager I’ve felt embarrassed to be an American. I didn’t want to be associated with the reckless consumerism, the racism, the violent greed I tied with our history and our current system– character flaws I had learned to despise growing up in Liberal– and Quaker– circles.
It was through difficult open-minded conversations that I finally realized that my disassociation would not change a powerful country that desperately needs to change. I needed to be an American. I needed to be heard as one, and to be heard, I needed to speak.
But I thought I was already speaking, right? I told Facebook how I felt, and my liberal friends supported me with dozens of clicks. I complained to my mom about the broken system. She was very sympathetic. But eventually I had to admit that, although my mom is important, and social media is a critical tool, the reality is that sweeping political change comes from …policy.
And did you know that our representatives are hired by their constituents to take our concerns to the nation’s government? Since none of my representatives have accepted my friend requests (lol), I’m stuck with writing to them and meeting with them to let them know how I want to be represented. It’s still a little overwhelming, because the system is complicated, and what impresses me over and over again is how easily FCNL prepares ordinary people to talk to their representatives.
The bottom line is: You don’t need to be an expert. You just have to be a human.
Bring your human experience with you, and tell your story; you are a lobbyist. Every time you tell someone what you need, you are a lobbyist. You can do this. And you have an incredible opportunity in the resources that FCNL provides at Spring Lobby Weekend (March 18-21, 2017)– this year the issue focus is eliminating economic injustice (specifically addressing healthcare and poverty in the U.S.)
If you are affiliated with PYM and are 18-35ish, the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting can provide funds for your registration as well as travel and housing. Check it out here.
More about Spring Lobby Weekend.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions. I love Spring Lobby Weekend. I LOVE IT.
– Joey Hartmann-Dow, Lehigh Valley Monthly Meeting
P.S. How many PYM YAFs can you spot in this video??
Reposted, with permission, from Joey’s Earth 4 President blog, which you should definitely check out.
On January 13th, Chris Crass spoke at Friends Center on “Courage for Racial Justice, Courage for Collective Liberation in the Era of Trump.”
The event was hosted in collaboration by Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, Showing Up for Racial Justice – Philly, Jewish Voice for Peace – Philly, and American Friends Service Committee.
Over two hundred people filled the room for lecture and discussion with longtime anti-racist/collective liberation organizer, author, and educator Chris Crass to explore how we can all rise for racial justice and work for collective liberation in these times.
The event was recorded by American Friends Service Committee.
Last November, over 20 PYM Friends joined hundreds of others in Washington DC to train and take action with Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) at the semi-annual Quaker Lobbying Weekend. While for some Friends this weekend is a time of learning new strategies and practicing new approaches, for others it is a familiar continuation of ongoing efforts in which they have been involved for years.
This year the lobbying focus was centered on encouraging the Senate to provide bipartisan support for introducing the Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act of 2016 (S.2551). Both newbies to Lobbying Weekend, including the PYM General Secretary, and old hands helped create a grassroots advocacy force for good that has resulted in success!
Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), joined by Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) and several others, has introduced legislation that would authorize a permanent, inter-agency Atrocities Prevention Board that will focus the U.S. government at the highest levels on early prevention of violent conflict as an essential part of our national security strategy. The legislation would permanently authorize the Atrocities Prevention Board, establish the Complex Crises Fund, mandate training for U.S. Foreign Service Officers and require reports to Congress from the State Department and the Director of National Intelligence.
“We wouldn’t be where we are today if not for the incredible lobbying that happened in November,” reports Theo Sitther of FCNL. “In fact, [when we met with] Sen. Tillis’ office — the only Republican on the bill so far — they directly attribute his co-sponsorship to the meeting they had with the North Carolina delegation in November.”
FCNL says that introducing the bill is just beginning, and they encourage Friends to help build greater bipartisan support to move the bill through the Senate. A talking points list of 6 reasons the Act is a good idea, as well as an action toolkit, can be found as part of Theo Sitther’s FCNL staff blog.
Whether or not you were part of Lobbying Weekend, you may feel called to contact your senator or take other action in solidarity with this effort. “The reason we are at this point now is because of work that was strategically planned and acted on,” says Christie Duncan-Tessmer. “All of our meetings played a role in that.”