Becoming an Anti-Racist Faith Community
One of the actions faith communities can take in becoming actively anti-racist is to make a public statement of intention. For those connected to NYYM, the impact of such a statement would go beyond the words themselves, inviting each of us to consider deeply what this might mean for ourselves, our meetings, our communities, and our yearly meeting. In hopes that NYYM will be open to making such a statement of intention, a Draft NYYM Statement on Becoming an Anti-Racist Faith Community came to Summer Sessions 2021 for reflection and the initiation of an extended period of discernment.
This draft statement was created by a task group which formed nearly a year ago. This multi-racial group of more than a dozen Friends spans over 50 years in age and includes people from various monthly meetings and the three yearly meeting committees -- Ministry, Witness and General Services -- that coordinate the other committees’ work.
Over the coming year, you and your meeting are invited to focus on how you can truly become an anti-racist faith community, and discern what that will mean for you and your meeting. The task group is sharing queries and resources that you may find helpful. You can find these resources below, or by requesting a copy from the office at 212-673-5750.
Your meeting will be asked to share your challenges and successes in doing this work. There will be opportunities to participate in Anti-Racism trainings as well as opportunities to discuss your progress with Friends throughout New York Yearly Meeting.
The draft statement will return for consideration as a Minute on Becoming an Anti-Racist Faith Community at NYYM Summer Sessions in 2022.
Interested in Anti-Racism Training? Fill out this form to let us know!
Draft NYYM Statement on Becoming an Anti-Racist Faith Community - July 5, 2021
As Quakers, we place our faith in the Living Spirit and seek to live in ways that recognize the value and dignity of all life and each person. Friends’ faithfulness is rooted in continuing revelation, in being broken open by the power of the Spirit calling us into new ways of living. New York Yearly Meeting believes that we are being called to a profound kind of change, to create a vision and experience of collective liberation.
Race has no scientific or genetic basis and was invented to divide and turn people against one another for the purpose of exploitation. Notions of racism and white supremacy permeate our society, our communities, and ourselves, undermining our faith that there is that of God in everyone.
New York Yearly Meeting acknowledges that Quaker communities have often perpetuated racist practices while at the same time many Friends opposed racism over the years. Some New York Yearly Meeting Friends enslaved Black people, benefited from migrant labor, or taught at or supported Native American boarding schools. By contrast, other Friends struggled to end the institution of slavery or establish civil rights for everyone. Both individual Quakers and meetings in New York Yearly Meeting have caused great harm by remaining complicit in racist systems, historically and today.
Friends of Color have spoken up over the years about being marginalized and devalued by white Friends. One Friend wrote “I experienced joy in being in community with Friends … but also pain when Friends did not have a clue that their behavior was often hurtful and racist.” White Friends, who see themselves as good people committed to equality, often feel offended when told that their behaviors are racist or that Quaker policies and practices oppress Friends of Color. We cannot avoid the reality that there are people who are oppressed, not merely out in the world, but also within our faith community.
Many practices and norms in American Quakerism are rooted in white supremacy. White Friends may be blind to oppression and racism that happen within our community. White Friends often do not notice when Friends of Color are passed over for service or positions of leadership. White Friends may reject what a Friend of Color says because they prioritize their own comfort over what the Friend has to say. These kinds of person-on-person racism are embedded in the structural racism that permeates American society as well as the Society of Friends.
As a yearly meeting, we commit to work toward becoming an actively anti-racist faith community.
Living into this commitment calls us to develop new insights and practices for what it means to be an anti-racist faith community. We are united in our longing to heal from the harms of white supremacy and our grief that racism is an obstacle to authentic community in the Yearly Meeting and beyond.
We recognize that words without action accomplish little. We commit to naming and taking tangible actions to transform the culture of our yearly and monthly meetings and ourselves as individuals to more fully align with Spirit in liberation, justice, and joy.
May we be faithful.
- Queries and Quotations to support discussion
Queries - view online or download the document
Quotations - view online or download the document
- NYYM Resources
Additional queries, quotes, and resources will be added to this page over time, so check back occasionally.
You can submit your recommendations of resources you've found especially helpful to [email protected].
You can send your questions about the draft minute and ways your meeting can engage with working toward becoming an anti-racist faith community to [email protected]. There are several NYYM Friends who will respond to your questions.
Antiracism Training Opportunities for the NYYM Community. Has hearing and reading about racism made you determined to learn more and to do more? Has experiencing racism left you angry, frustrated, confused? At several points over the next year, NYYM will offer the chance to participate in anti-racism workshops especially arranged for our Yearly Meeting. These training sessions are typically around 20 hours over a few days.
Why participate in anti-racism training?
- Deepen our understanding of right relationship with each other and the Divine
- Helps us move toward the vision of being a multicultural, anti-racist faith community
- Shared vocabulary helps us understand each other
- Address the intent and impact of our ministry
- Addressing racism takes community. None of us can do this on our own.
Interested? Find out more (scroll down on the web page a little). There will be opportunities now through Spring 2022. It would be very helpful if you could let the planning team know of your general interest by filling out this Antiracism Training - Expression of Interest form.
Friends Center for Racial Justice in Ithaca, NY
More Quaker Resources on Racism on the NYYM web site: https://nyym.org/content/quaker-resources-racism.
- Other Quaker Resources
Friends General Conference: Help Your Meeting Challenge Racism
Philadelphia Yearly Meeting: Resources for Addressing Racism
New England Yearly Meeting: Tools for Racial Justice
Center for the Study of White American Culture (founded by Quakers)
"Are We Ready to Make the Necessary Changes?" Vanessa Julye, Friends Journal, January 1, 2019
"Racial Inequality: Painfully Present among Friends", Vanessa Julye, Friends Journal, October 1, 2003
"Moving toward Wholeness: Addressing Race among Friends" Patricia McBee and Vanessa Julye, Friends Journal, Oct. 1, 2003
Race, Systemic Violence, and Retrospective Justice: An African American Quaker Scholar-Activist Challenges Conventional Narratives, Harold D. Weaver, Jr., Pendle Hill Pamphlet #465, October 2020.
- QuakerSpeak and other Videos
Most are under 10 minutes.
"What’s the Difference Between a Welcoming and an Inclusive Space?" - May 28, 2021 Lisa Graustein
"Radical Transformation – Long Overdue for the Religious Society of Friends", Vanessa Julye giving the 2021 Cary Memorial Lecture for Pendle Hill
"White Quakers Confronting White Privilege" - May 14, 2020
"How Does Culture Influence Quaker Worship?" - March 28, 2019
"Quakers and Migrant Justice," Oct 29, 2015
"Quakers, Racism, and the Blessed Community" - Oct 16, 2014
"Advice for White Men" - August 14, 2014
- Online tests for implicit bias and white privilege
- Books for individuals to read and for meetings to discuss
Me and White Supremacy, by Layla Saad
White Fragility, by Robin DiAngelo
My Grandmother's Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies, by Resmaa Menakem
- NYYM Monthly Meeting Resources
If your monthly meeting or Quaker community has a list of resources on racial justice and would like to share them with NYYM Friends, email [email protected]" with "You can submit your recommendations of resources you've found especially helpful to [email protected].