Thursday, July 16, 2015

Upper Dublin, process, space, and then back home

RantWoman has two sets of cut-to-the chase points about People of Color issues in Friends' contexts far from RantWoman. RantWOman offers these comments humbly, with an eye to letting them feed into the distant work while RantWoman focuses better on matters closer to home.

To the white Friends of Upper Dublin Monthly Meeting,

RantWoman is sad to learn of your Meeting only in the context of Avis Wanda's need to be true to her Light about honoring the memory of her enslaved ancestors, some of whom are buried around UDMM. RantWoman's command of Pennsylvania / east coast history is, well, pathetic. Still RantWoman thinks it extremely unlikely that you are the only Meetinghouse built on the graves of enslaved people. RantWoman, humbly, is wondering what is the big deal about acknowledging that point? And RantWoman's heart just aches for Avis every time RantWoman hears more of Avis' story.
RantWoman does not assume that acknowledging this past will be painless, just illuminating, worthwhile. An acknowledgement will not change the past. RantWoman does expect it might create openings for a better present and future.

[Note and Update: RantWoman has found a statement from Upper Dublin Friends Meeting on Facebook. RantWoman continues to hold this situation in the Light, conscious that it is important to recognize how things LOOK to different parties.]

On the way to that acknowledgment, RantWoman again speaking only for herself would find it easier to hold your Meeting in the Light if there were minutes of the ongoing process and discussions or video / audio somewhere on the internet. In fact, RantWoman would encourage publication of the DRAFT minutes in a forum where people might suggest edits and comments. Post the draft. List a timeline after which any new comments will not be incorporated into the seasoning process. Make clear when you publish minutes you consider final that you consider them final. If people still object, as a process point, consider the option of revisiting the topic in 6 months or a year. RantWoman mentions posting draft minutes because even this process can be a valuable if also frustrating indicator of what people do or do not understand.

Right now, the info stream RantWoman sees is VERY one-sided and in language that sets RantWoman's teeth on edge.

RantWoman does not think it is any white person's job to police anyone's language. People use the language they use. They have the spiritual support they have. RantWoman actually also does not think it her place necessarily to wade into all the history and personality conflicts of your Meeting. It does occur to rantWoman to ask whether there is anything else you feel a need to be held in the Light about besides matters with Avis. Rantwoman is happy to offer some examples from her experience and to ask whether these stories have resonance for Friends of UDMM. But first, RantWoman needs to address others.

In the Light


RantWoman has been reading about the pre-Gathering event for People of Color and their families before the FGC gathering. At first RantWoman was just going to comment as a white person in terms of her experience. But crash, clatter. Irrepressible Nephew's father is from Guatemala. Nephew has adult half-siblings, niece, nephews. In the hypothetical (highly unlikely but still...) event that any or all of these people decided to attend the FGC Gathering, RantWoman would certainly qualify as a family member of people of color.

RantWoman honestly thinks it's A LOT to ask to expect people of color to commit to both a pre-Gathering event and the entire Gathering. RantWoman thinks it would be avery big lift to get members of her multicultural extended family to do that. Timewise. Moneywise. Culturewise There would be barriers. RantWoman further notes that in some parts of the country there are Hispanic Friends churches; RantWoman is in NO position to comment on whether Friends from these churches would be interested either in attending the Gathering or in a pre-gathering people of color event.

RantWoman wants to honor people's desire to create space for solidarity before a big gathering but also feels led to ask whether there is room in people's thinking for the idea that a sense of solidarity might be cultivated slowly. Perhaps People of Color come for a weekend because that is what they can schedule. They feel bonds that nourish them over a year in the life of their home Meetings. Maybe they find something of value in an FGC resource. Maybe in a future year they become much clearer to try the whole gathering. Maybe they are like RantWoman and become clear that meetings in person are important but Gathering might not be the vehicle they are most clear to use.

Here RantWoman would like to speak of personal experience with the value of having part-time attenders. The Pacific Northwest Quaker Women's Theology conference is a 4-day gathering of women mainly from NW Yearly Meeting (EFI) and North Pacific yM (independent). When there have been part-time attenders, more younger women have been able to come; one Friend was able to have her usual Elder present. Although the event certainly builds for people who attend the whole session, at least for RantWoman having people there parttime enhanced rather than detracted from RantWoman's experience.

RantWoman's other experience along these lines is a 4-day conference in Portland sponsored by the Western States Foundation. RantWoman has had the privilege of attending twice, but because of who pays for RantWoman's registration and travel, RantWoman has had no other choice except to attend for the whole conference. This conference includes some separate time and space for people of color and does allow for single day registration. Many of the people of color who attend are Latino. They benefit greatly from sessions in Spanish. Many times they bring their children. Likely they would not attend at all without single-day registration. RantWoman benefits tremendously from listing and including these voices in discussions and heartily endorses all the registration flexibility that makes this possible.

RantWoman offers these comments in a spirit of humility, not necessarily feeling a compelling need to comb over  events of this year's pre-Gathering event but hoping Light shines in helpful directions going forward.

In the Light


There. Rantwoman needs to pause and resume attention to simmering matters closer to home:
--Meditating about the disconnect within her Meeting between the friends interested in wandering through John Woolman and people of color concerns in the 18th century for a couple years and the friends engaged actively in the 21st century as mainly white allies  in various strands of public ministry and local struggles for racial justice. [In this vein, Friends are especially invited to hold in the Light a weighty Friend, So Out of Order Friend even though RantWoman feels NO Call at this moment to elaborate on this Friend's nom de blog.]

--Digesting the latest in the saga of Rachel Dolezal, lately replaced as the president of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP

--Thinking about some white ally / concerned person of faith questions related to a topic RantWoman does not feel clear to entangle in this posting.

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