February 4, 2020
(Sent on behalf of Presiding Clerk Sandy Kewman and the Ministry and Oversight Committee by Sharon Gates, Assistant to the Clerk of PYM. Please circulate widely in your Meeting so all members and attenders have the opportunity to read it.)
“Our life is love, and peace, and tenderness, and bearing one with another, and forgiving one another, and not laying accusations one against another, but praying one for another, and helping one another up with a tender hand, if there has been a slip or fall, and waiting until the Lord gives sense and repentance, if sense and repentance in any be wanting.”
In preparation for Pacific Yearly Meeting (PacYM) Annual Session 2020 and beyond, the PacYM Ministry & Oversight (M&O) Committee and Presiding Clerk Sandy Kewman call upon Meeting members and attenders to engage deeply in inquiry and discernment on fostering greater inclusion and love for each other, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, age, experience with Quakerism, abilities, sexual orientation and the numerous less seen differences that we may have. This is a lifelong concern, commitment, and practice, one with which every Friend must grapple in order to co-create and live into the beloved community.
As a way to deepen our discussions and work towards living into being a beloved community, we request in the next year that Friends in your Monthly Meeting read the book White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo. Understanding that Friends have already begun working on this year’s State of the Meeting reports, we ask that you respond to the queries posed below and to please include in your Meeting’s State of the Meeting report—if not this year then in 2021—the work your Meeting is doing to deepen the state of being a beloved community for all people, to see the unseen and acknowledge opportunities for growth.
We believe that in taking these action steps, Friends will have a common language and framework by which to identify and talk about racism, white privilege, settler colonialism, and the inherited culture of white supremacy individually, in relationship with one another, and structurally in our Meetings and the larger society. This work is critical if Friends are to really be friends to each other and our earth.
We offer these queries for your Spirit-filled consideration:
- In what ways did White Fragility help you understand the place of race in our lives and in our Meetings with a new or different perspective?
- How aware and awake is your Meeting to how race, cultural differences, privilege and entitlement impact the quality of your relationships and friendships in your Meeting?
- What new learning about how to be a more beloved community for all people within the culture of Friends has occurred in your Meeting?
- In what ways have we been “fragile” to seeing our sometimes unconscious and unintentional role in perpetuating a culture of dominance?
- What steps could your Meeting take to increase inclusion and the loving telling of truth among Friends in the coming year?
To support this work, we recommend that you utilize Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility reading guide, which can be accessed here. Friends may wish to approach this request like a book club, completing the whole book and gathering at the end to discuss, or may want to read the chapters together as a group over the course of several months. We hope that Meetings will have begun the book by the time Annual Session 2020 begins.
If led, we encourage your Meeting to further deepen into this concern by exploring the following works:
- Watch together: New England Yearly Meeting (NEYM) 2019 Virtual Plenary – Challenging White Supremacy by Lisa Graustein: Part 1 of 3; Part 2 of 3: Part 3 of 3.
- Read together: My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending our Hearts and Bodies by Resmaa Menakem
- Read together: Say the Wrong Thing by Dr. Amanda Kemp
- Read together: How to Be an Anti-racist by Ibram X Kendi
- Read together: So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
- Read together: Friends General Conference Institutional Assessment on Systemic Racism within Friends General Conference as Reported October 2018.
- Watch together: How to Have a Voice and Lean Into Conversations About Race. Dr. Amanda Kemp. TEDxWilmington.
- Listen together: #GoodAncestor Robin DiAngelo on White Fragility. Good Ancestor Podcast with Layla F Saad.
- Listen together: Where Does it Hurt? with Ruby Sales. On Being Podcast.
- Watch together: There is No Neutral. Michelle Johnson. TEDxWakeForestU.
- Read: Are We Ready to Make the Necessary Changes? Vanessa Julye. Friends Journal.
- Complete: Anti-Racist Checksheet for Whites. Robin DiAngelo.
For additional resources, please see visit our Racial Justice webpage here.
Please reach out to PacYM M&O Committee with any questions or feedback about this request. Please contact: PacYMMO@gmail.com.
Pacific Yearly Meeting Ministry & Oversight Committee and Presiding Clerk Sandy Kewman