European American Quakers Working to End Racism
About European American Quakers Working to End Racism (EAQWER)
European American Quakers Working to End Racism is a working group formed under the care of New York Yearly Meeting's Witness Coordinating Committee.
The Working Group collaborated with the Task Group on Racism to develop the Apology to Afro-Descendants, which was approved by New York Yearly Meeting at its Fall 2013 Sessions. Below are links to the Apology and to a background document on the Apology.
Mission Statement (October 2011)
Out of our concern for love and justice, we join in the mission of putting a stop to racism. As prime beneficiaries of a system that has oppressed people of color for over half a millennium we take it as our central and core responsibility to stop racism. As members of the Religious Society of Friends, we must be faithful to our two testimonies of Peace and Equality that call us to discern where racism exists in ourselves, in New York Yearly Meeting, and in society, and that we bring it to an end.
- To offer those in our group emotional and practical support as we work on our racism.
- To be a catalyst for anti-racist change in NYYM.
- To act as allies both to people of color and to white people outside of this group.
Members of our group are all Friends of European descent who recognize we benefit from white privilege. We participate because we feel called to work together with other white Friends at times. We recognize this idea is uncomfortable to some, who may view it as a racist practice in itself. There are many good reasons for occasional separation, a few of which are listed below. The crucial difference between our actions and racist segregation is our commitment to building connections with all people, not building walls of separation. As individuals and as a group, we are allies to people of color. Outside of our time in this group, we work together with people of color, do our best to hear their concerns, and seek their leadership.
Some of the reasons for working together as white people are:
- People of color, at times, have asked or told us to.
- To the extent that racism is a white creation, whites must come up with solutions.
- Currently, society most commonly hears people of color speaking against racism. We need a clearly identified white anti-racist voice.
- White people need to learn to recognize and undo racism without always depending on the input of people of color. This requires us to mature spiritually, to see our flaws, and to put ourselves in the place of others.
- As members of the oppressor group, white people are deeply hurt emotionally by racism. Working on this issue from our perspective moves all of our lives forward.
- We need to share our own stories with each other so that we will be ready to listen to stories about racism from people of color without interrupting them with our own.
As an informal spirit-led group,we have considered at length how to structure our group, and how to fit within the NYYM community. We are open to all white Friends who are working on their own racism, and have a concern for ending racism in our yearly meeting. We have been nurtured and supported by Friends of Color over the years, and will remain open to possible new forms of accountability and relationship. We do our best to remain transparent in our work. We became a working group of Witness Coordinating Committee in July 2011.
Resources for addressing racism
Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (PhYM) has developed annotated bibliographies of books, websites, media, and workshops designed to help meetings "think about where they are and what they may do regarding the many facets of “-isms” that confront us and our wider community." This is part of an onoing wider effort in PhYM to address racism in the Yearly Meeting and in society at large. They have divided these resources into three tiers according to how deeply you feel your meeting is engaged with the issues.
Resources from Baltimore Yearly Meeting
Baltimore Yearly Meeting (BYM) revised its Vision Statement to include a paragraph addressing multicultural diversity. Below are links to an introduction to the change in their Vision Statement and the Vision Statement itself.