With thanks to Signe Wilkinson for providing the editorial cartoon that ran in Philadelphia Inquirer on Wednesday, March 24, 2021.
Quaker testimonies of peace, equality, and community are important to Friends everywhere. The past week’s incidents in the U.S. have highlighted the need to build an equitable world and the need for action.
It’s the fundamental belief in equality that has led many Friends to actively drive change.
The increasing number of reports of violence and attacks on the Asian American community has been concerning. The Stop Asian American/Pacific Islander Hate website reported that from March 19, 2020, through February 28, 2021, there were 3,795 incidents of coronavirus-related verbal harassment, shunning, and physical assault on Asian Americans across the U.S. Last week, a series of mass shootings occurred at three spas or massage parlors in the metropolitan area of Atlanta, Georgia. Eight people were killed, six of whom were Asian women.
This week, 10 people were killed in a Boulder, Colorado grocery store shooting. Gun violence in the U.S. is at a point of crisis. Gun Violence Archive reported an alarmingly high number of gun-related incidents in 2020.
Another significant incident of deep impact was the Vatican’s announcement that the Catholic Church would not bless same-sex unions. The stance is a huge setback and disappointment for the LGBTQ+ Catholics around the world.
Message from PYM Co-Clerks Jean-Marie and Frank Barch
Let us see what love can do
We continue to be surrounded by violence manifested in many ways. There has been the gun violence against people of color and other innocents that we continue to see. But violence is not only physical. It exists in the denial of rights and privileges, such as marriage equality, red-lining and de facto housing segregation. Violence includes our inadequate health care system, including mental health. It is seen in the mal-distribution of wealth and the mal-distribution of COVID vaccines. Disparities in education or in employment opportunities are violence against the disadvantaged. Climate change inflicts violence upon us all, though disproportionally on the poor, people of color and groups that are “othered”.
Friends speak of the testimony of Peace. Shalom is spoken of in the Old Testament, as a condition of freedom from disturbance, either outwardly or inwardly in the soul. Given the violence around us, how can our souls be not disturbed? Fred Rogers observed: “Love that conquers hate, peace that rises triumphant over war, and justice that proves more powerful than greed”. These are the forces that can salve our disturbed souls.
Yes, Friends, let us now see what love can do. As we prepare for our Continuing Sessions, how does love call us into action on Climate Justice and Change? How does our love manifest itself in our work on Diversity, Inclusion and Equity- our anti-racism work? How does our attention to Membership and Belonging manifest our love for one other?
Seeking Peace together, your co-clerks
How do we best effect change? Here are some Anti-Racism and LGBTQ+ Resources that will help you navigate change.
The social institutions and culture in the U.S. have witnessed ingrained racism and xenophobia for a long time. As Quakers, social action has been a continuing part of the community. Friends welcome all to their meetings. Many meetings also bless same-sex marriages. The resources section below points to various relevant existing resources.
- PYM Peace & Social Justice includes various resources on both topics.
- AFSC posted an article, “Standing up to anti-Asian racism” with various resources.
- Asian American Psychological Association (AAPA): is an organization that helps mental health in Asian American communities through research, education, professional practice, and policy founded in 1972. AAPA has listed resources on self-care to racism to caregiving and more.
- New York Yearly Meeting Resources for Addressing Racism for youth and adults.
- Learning for Justice Resources for white allies in search of a solution to American racism / when folks of color are exhausted.
- A reading list by Friends Journal on anti-racism.
- Amesbury Quaker resources on anti-racism.
- Healing Racism Toolkit website.
- University of California San Diego resources.
- Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns is a community that holds biannual gatherings as well as regional meetings and has resources listed on their website.
How to be an ally?
Allyship is very important to Friends of color and the LGBTQ+ community. It means a willingness to step forward when you witness othering behavior and serve as an ally to the person who is othered. We come together to listen and discern. After listening and understanding, it is important to take action to support marginalized communities and injustices.