When I tell people that I've just started working for the American Friends Service Committee, some will inevitably scratch their heads and ask, "What is a rabbi doing working for a Quaker organization?"
I am a white person who recently participated in #millionsmarchnyc as part of #BlackLivesMatter. As a queer, gender-queer person, I know about some forms of oppression, but I didn’t want my own unconscious racism, entitlement, and unexamined privilege to perpetuate the pathology and systems we were there to protest. So I came up with some guidelines for myself while participating in public demonstrations against racism and police violence.
Watching Selma in a crowded theater, the connections to the Black Lives Matter movement were very apparent. As Vanessa Julye and Barry Scott said in their , “The struggle for equal voting rights along with the dehumanization of African American lives and experiences continues in 2015.”
Note: I invited Vanessa Julye, author of Fit for Freedom, not for Friendship: Quakers, African Americans, and the Myth of Racial Justice and her husband, Barry Scott, clerk of Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting, to write thier reflections about Ava DuVernay's film Selma. Below are their thoughs and stories, with queries for reflection at the end. - Lucy
In January 2015, Aura Kanegis, AFSC's Director of Public Policy and Advocacy, traveled to Gaza for the first time. These are her reflections and photographs from the trip witnessing the recent devastation of Operation Protective Edge.
“Here, you might be interested in this. They’re a Quaker organization.” I look down at the title: "MARStar: Newsletter of the Middle Atlantic Region, American Friends Service Committee." The cover has a large image of protestors holding signs. “Cool,” I say out loud. I turn the pages and see words I’ve never seen before -- “social justice” “activists” “the prison industrial complex.” Immediately, I recognize that this magazine, this document, is something significant, something important, something I am connected to. For the first time in my life, I feel proud to be a Quaker.
St. Louis resident Diamond Latchison joined the protests five days after Mike Brown’s death. “Once I started seeing firsthand what the people were doing and what the police were doing, I never left,” she says.
The human experience is a beautifully complex one. In our 21st century lives, it seems that our online newspapers, twitter feeds, and emails are filled with stories of hate, injustice, oppression and violence. We often need to look a little deeper to find the stories of hope, faith, compassion, and love, and by the time we get to them, we are often too weighed down with challenging stories to recognize the uplifting ones. But we must be resilient. We must stay encouraged.
AFSC is a Quaker organization devoted to service, development, and peace programs throughout the world. Our work is based on the belief in the worth of every person, and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice. Learn more
Where we work
AFSC has offices around the world. To see a complete list see the Where We Work page.