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Readings for Reflection: February 2004
from the Committee on Ministry and Counsel

The following two excerpts from an Epistle written by Friends of color in Britain Yearly Meeting are part of a Meeting-wide effort to think and talk about racism and white privilege both within and outside our Meeting in February. These excerpts are reprinted from Quaker Faith & Practice of the Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends in Britain, 2nd edition, 1995.

Epistle of Black, White, Asian, and Mixed-heritage Friends, 1991

We recognize and celebrate what we as Black, Asian, and mixed heritage Friends [in Britain] bring to the Society and with pride we affirm our rich positive contributions. However, we find spoken and unspoken assumptions that because we are Black people we are economically needy, socially deprived, culturally disinherited, and spiritually in need of Quaker instruction. We experience isolation both physical and spiritual within our meetings. It is not just a matter of numbers but without the active commitment to promote diversity within the Society of Friends it will continue to be difficult to foster a true experience of a spiritual community.
As Black and white Friends we recognize the importance of our children’s needs to know and value themselves and the world around them with the love and support of a settled and secure family environment. We must all strive to ensure that race is not a barrier to our children’s success. We need to look honestly and openly at the structure of our meetings and seek to broaden our experience of other enriching forms of worship. Quakerism enables us to face both the glory and the seemingly unfaceable in ourselves. Let us do so now – together.

[from another part of Quaker Faith & Practice]

Quakerism need not be defined exclusively as white, Christian and middle-class, and such culture need not be adopted as the culture of those who are convinced. When this does happen the inequalities and unequal power dynamics of our society are reflected in our meetings and in this way Black people are discouraged from fully participating in worship.
Our Society is often blind to the gifts and richness of other traditions and this cultural chauvinism impedes its development. Racism within the Society of Friends is perhaps more damaging because it is unconscious and springs from stereotyped assumptions: “And no harm is meant by it. Harm may be done but it is never meant.”

Past Readings for Reflection
   July 2003
   August 2003
   September 2003
   October 2003
   November 2003
   December 2003
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