Quakers and the Future of Racial Healing

Quaker rapper Sterling Duns speaks about Dreaming of Wholeness: Quakers and the Future of Racial Healing in a new QuakerSpeak video.

“It feels simple and deeply radical to just say as a group that is committed to honoring that of God in everyone, that that person of color, that Black person is deserving to have their full humanity recognized by me as a Quaker. That’s a simple thing to say and it’s a radical thing to say.”

“Quakers are equipped to have a role in the racial healing work we need today because inherent to the faith, inherent to the spiritual practice is the belief in that of God in everyone.”

“I spend time dreaming about the future and really spending some deep time imagining what it would be like for us all to be free. I think Quaker communities can spend that time and energy doing that, I think they can absolutely do that. When we talk about Quaker communities being more inclusive I think you literally have to spend time on Dream Mountain, going to Dream Mountain and looking out, and return to reality, Reality Meadows, and then Dream Mountain, then Reality Meadows, you know? I spend a lot of time oscillating between those different worlds and I think having a practice of being able to do that as a group, as multiple groups, would be really important.”

One First day morning at Bear Creek Friends meeting earlier this year we listen to, and talked about the following two QuakerSpeak videos featuring Sterling Duns.

Following is a Minute on Racial Justice, approved at Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) in 2016.

Minute on Racial Justice

Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) 2016

A testimony of Quakers is that all people are beloved and equal in the eyes of God.
We live in a society that is struggling to deal with consequences of slavery, and the failure to achieve equity for all after slavery was abolished. Conditions such as discriminatory lending practices, multigenerational inequities around home ownership, and easier access to education for white people persist in our laws and culture, resulting in institutional racism.

Some Friends once owned slaves. William Penn believed that “slavery was perfectly acceptable, provided that slave owners attended to the spiritual and material needs of those they enslaved.” Penn “had a curious blind spot about slavery. Quakers were far ahead of most other Americans, but it’s surprising that people with their humanitarian views could have contemplated owning slaves at all.”

Picking up the work of colonial Quaker Anthony Benezet, who wrote an early tract opposing slavery, John Woolman traveled up and down the Atlantic coast laboring with Quaker slaveholders and testifying against the institution of slavery. It was through his years of patient dialogue that Quakers first freed their slaves then testified against slavery and over time became the backbone of the anti-slavery movement in America.

A gap in awareness exists today, which allows so many people who consider themselves white to continue practices that give them advantages over people of color.

The scope of these problems is extensive and deep. Racial tensions continue to result in violence and death. There is an increasingly militarized police response. The Black Lives Matter movement is helping raise awareness around these issues.

Many white people are still not as aware of some of these issues. But to continue to benefit from these privileges is not right.

Not having relationships with people of color often results in misunderstanding and unfortunate racial attitudes among white people. One significant consequence of that is the election of so many representatives who reflect these views to legislative bodies.

Building relationships with people of color is one way we can begin to address this, as we build Beloved Communities together.

We urge each person to take a careful look at their life, to identify where one is benefiting from this, and work to correct that. We urge Friends to speak out and take action against these systemic injustices and violence occurring today. We appreciate how much we learn from communities of color.

This entry was posted in Black Lives, Quaker Meetings, race, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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