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.
Join Moorestown Friends Meeting’s Anti-Racism Committee for a discussion of Clint Smith’s new exploration of the roots and present-day impact of the U.S.A.’s slave economy of the 17th-19th centuries. An ‘instant #1 New York Times bestseller,’ the book is widely available. If you’re not able to read or listen to it before the meeting, Little, Brown’s website has some excerpts; and The Atlantic has a short, valuable adaption. Please join us to help support the important work our meeting is doing in witness to our testament of equality; click here or phone 646-558-8656 and use meeting ID 873 3565 8140.
Take a listen to a few of these great songs: Billie Holiday’s ‘Strange Fruit,’ Janis Ian’s ‘Society’s Child,’ Gil Scott-Heron’s ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,’ Bruce Springsteen’s ‘American Skin,’ Solomon Burke’s ‘None of Us Are Free,’ Adia Victoria’s ‘South Gotta Change,’ Tyler Childers’s ‘Long Violent History,’ and Amethyst Kiah’s ‘Black Myself’ – or all of them. (These are free YouTube videos; all the songs should be available on streaming services as well.) Then bring your thoughts, and your recommendations, and join our Anti-Racism Committee to help support the important work our meeting is doing in witness to our testament of equality; click here or phone 646-558-8656 and use meeting ID 815 8781 6369.
On Thursday, June 24 at 7:30pm, Moorestown Friends Meeting’s Anti-Racism Committee members will offer a range of ideas for books, articles, movies, videos, podcasts – and maybe more – that brought them new insights into racism and racial justice. We’ll share a few quick takes as well as longer works, and welcome your ideas as well. Please join us to help support the important work F/friends are doing in support of our testament of equality; click here or phone 646-558-8656 and use meeting ID 873 3565 8140.
Burlington County college students and activists Ashlynn Conley and Jasmine Cartwright-Atkins join Moorestown F/friends to discuss Juneteenth, a celebration of emancipation in the U.S. Jasmine and Ashlynn will tell us something about the beginnings of this holiday, when many enslaved people in Texas first learned, on June 19, 1865, of the Emancipation Proclamation, almost three years after it officially ended legal enslavement. They will also discuss their plans for a second annual Juneteenth celebration at the Perkins Center in Moorestown on Saturday, June 19. All are welcome to join the conversation at 7:30pm on Thursday 10 June; click here or phone 646-558-8656 and use meeting ID 815 8781 6369.
Moorestown Friends Meeting’s Anti-Racism Committee member Michelle Maikis, a teacher with experience in both Quaker and public schools, and Nikki Tatum, Michelle’s vice principal at Franklin Park School in Somerset, New Jersey, will join F/friends to discuss their public school district’s commitment to providing diversity training and anti-racism awareness to staff. Together, we’ll explore one district’s approach to making lasting change in the face of some negative history. All are welcome to join the conversation; click here or phone 646-558-8656 and use meeting ID 873 3565 8140.
Following on our April 22 ‘Let’s Talk About Deep Delta Justice’ session, Moorestown Friends Meeting’s Anti-Racism Committee welcomes our member Matthew van Meter to continue the conversation of his compelling book, the historic Supreme Court case Duncan v. Louisiana, and its implications for anti-racism efforts today. The book is available through Pendle Hill and numerous other outlets. Click here to join the discussion, or phone 646-558-8656 and use meeting ID 815 8781 6369.
Caption: Donna Fann-Boyle being questioned by the Neshaminy School District attorney during the hearing about the Neshaminy Redsk*ns Mascot, January 10, 2019
The hearings at Bucks County Community College went on for five days. This Friend, member of PhYM First Contact Reconciliation Collaborative, was able to attend on the fourth day when Donna Fann-Boyle (Chocktaw/ Cherokee) was questioned. Afterward, Donna responded to how she felt now that [testimony] was over. She said, “I felt more empowered by the amount of support I received. I feel like I can breathe now and that the hard part is over. The public is now more aware. I feel good about what happened during the hearings but it is still up in the air. Nothing is set in stone.”
The use of Native names, slurs, images and symbols is a stark reminder of how our communities are still colonized. Donna has persisted for over four years to educate the Neshaminy community about the true meaning of the R-word. The Conqueror Mentality: we took their land, we took their resources, we took their lives when they got in our way, we took their children and the latest version through the mascots – we take their identity and tell them what it means.
Testimony of a Neshaminy HS teacher and a community member occurred before Donna’s testimony. The teacher who advises their Student Council talked about the students coming up with a “Mr. Redsk*ins” event and didn’t say anything to them about the deeper meaning of the name. The community member, a lawyer, father of students in Neshaminy Schools, and also a coach in the community, said he knows lots of young people. He supported the greatness of the school district and saw no problems with the mascot and its effect. Though, when asked if he was aware of the meaning of “redsk*ns” he said he never did any research into the subject and saw no negative effects in the schools.
One of the more disturbing reports from the hearings was the testimony on day 5 by Stephen Pirritano, a school board member. When asked if he felt the information about scalp bounties to be true–his answer: “I’m sure it happened you know–just like any other races through history you know [have] been eradicated. My parents came from Italy. When the Africans came over went to Sicily and Italy and killed all the men and impregnated all the women, the world’s full of that.” The Spencer Phips Proclamation of 1755 spells out the details of such bounties – money paid for “redsk*ns” or scalps.
The Neshaminy School District hired as its expert witness Andre Billeaudeaux, a self-proclaimed amateur historian who wrote a children’s fictional book about how the Washington r–skins got their name. He is also the executive director of NAGA, an organization that supports the use of native mascotry and promotes harassment of natives and allies who work on changing harmful mascotry in their schools. He travels the country trying to convince school districts with Native mascots that it is to honor them. (See NAGA, http://www.naguardians.org/.)
It is remarkable that the school district is willing to spend precious educational monies to defend such an indefensible mascot. And ironic that the most vehement Euro-American community members, who say the mascot is an honor to Native peoples, are the most disrespectful to actual living Native peoples. This Friend contends that the fierce connection between symbol and identity has its roots in our Euro-American loss of ancestral territories. On a cellular level many of us long for our tribal identity and connection, long lost through early migration and or intense cultural mixing. Tragically, Native culture is very compelling to appropriate when you long for tribal identity.
Leading Native American tribal organizations condemn the use of Native mascots and many studies have shown the negative impacts. These negative impacts are also on the non-native students – increasing divisions, attitudes of superiority, and racism. Research led by psychology professor Chu Kim-Prieto (The College of New Jersey) showed that exposure to Native American team mascots, increases a person’s negative stereotyping of other races. When society condones stereotypes, youth and adults think it is okay to use other stereotypes –
which ultimately leads to more bias and discrimination.
There is a great deal of evidence about the cyber-bullying and backlash on Donna Fann-Boyle over the years: death threat phone calls and a great deal of nasty social media attacks. None of this evidence was brought up at the hearings, as it was up to the Neshaminy lawyers to bring it up, which they wouldn’t do given the negative light it would shine on the community. It is part of what the judge and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC) panel [may] have to examine.
One of the lawyers for PHRC (https://www.phrc.pa.gov/Pages/default.aspx) is about to give birth and is taking maternity leave. This means that the findings will be delayed until July 1st. It will be an 11-member panel who makes the final decision.
How might Friends move faith into practice, act to decolonize our communities? If a racist mascot exists in your community, speak to the negative effects it holds over everyone – Native and non-Native Peoples alike; and/or support any CHANGE THE NAME effort, including the Washington D.C. NFL team. With Spirit, toward community unity, wonderings and comments may be shared with PhYM First Contact Reconciliation Collaborative, https://www.pym.org/first-contact-reconciliation-collaborative/. Wanishi (Lenape, thank you)
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.
In response to the most recent police shootings in Charlotte NC, over one hundred and fifty people gathered in the Race Street room of the Friends Center on September 26th to learn about Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ). SURJ is a national organization comprised of chapters in cities all over the country. The group’s main goal is to mobilize white people to engage in the work of undoing racism and white supremacy.
For about a year and a half now, the Philadelphia chapter of SURJ, primarily white folks of varied ages, genders, class backgrounds and more have been working to call white folks in on the conversation around white supremacy. Through demonstrations that point to the systemic oppression of communities of color and canvassing in predominantly white neighborhoods, SURJ hopes to normalize the conversation about race and encourage white people to dive into their own learning (or rather, unlearning) of white supremacy and how it keeps us all oppressed. SURJ understands that it’s important for white people to do their own work, and not rely on people of color to teach them about systemic and personal bias. At the same time, the group seeks to be externally accountable to organizations that are person of color lead. While SURJ provides a space for people to process, they try to prioritize relationship and being responsive to the call to action from communities of color, joining them in the struggle for justice.
As SURJ continues to grow here in Philadelphia, PYM Friends are beginning to have more of a presence within the group. With collaboration from PYM-affiliated SURJ attendees, PYM staff, and Philly SURJ leaders, PYM has developed an exciting new work and witness group. PYM’s corporate witness includes undoing racism within the Religious Society of Friends. Collaboration with a group like SURJ could prove to be extremely helpful in pursuing this goal, and a way to plug in individual Friends as well as groups of Friend into doing this work.
The Meeting on the 26th was intended to give people from the community, who might be interested in involvement, an understanding of what SURJ is all about and the sort of things they have been involved in in the past. Later in the evening, the group split into three different breakout groups to focus on specific issues; the uprising in Charlotte NC (https://charlotteuprising.com/), anti-trump canvassing, and the Movement 4 Black Lives platform (https://policy.m4bl.org/). This gave folks an idea of how SURJ organizes in different areas and plugs people in depending on their interests. At the end of the night, the group was able to raise over $300 for the Durham Solidarity Fund (http://durhamsolidaritycenter.org/bondfund/) which supports the ongoing struggle for racial justice in Charlotte.
If you are interested in getting involved with Philly SURJ reach out to Gage Beemish at firstname.lastname@example.org. SURJ general meetings are the second and fourth Tuesday of every month. The location varies but is occasionally at the Friends Center. The Philly SURJ FaceBook page can be found here (https://www.facebook.com/PhillySURJ/) If you want to receive more information and keep up to date with what Philly SURJ is up to, sign up for the newsletter here (http://facebook.us12.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=7c7d9c77d7f6b7add5df6743e&id=e1d9387cb5).