Racial, Social & Economic Justice
The Racial, Social and Economic Justice Committee’s purpose is to bring a spiritual approach to:
- Serve as a think tank collecting and curating resources—over decades—for Friends throughout the Yearly Meeting who are doing the work.
- We address racism and oppression from a structural basis.
- We recognize that systemic racism is intrapersonal, interpersonal, institutional, and ideological, and especially we help Friends examine the institutional aspect of racism.
- We gather information about the racial justice work that other yearly meetings and Quaker organizations are currently doing, nationally and internationally.
- Offer Friends multiple opportunities to learn about systems of oppression that intersect with systemic racism—sexism, classism, heterosexism, and colonialism.
- We help individuals and monthly meetings gain awareness and take action and listen to Friends who feel they have experienced inequity or bigotry.
- We create and provide tools to promote social justice.
- Provide strong presence at summer Sessions and a potential spiritual haven for Friends who may feel isolated or unsupported by their meetings when doing this work.
- We encourage spiritual engagement in witness and ministry among Friends and the world focusing primarily on racial justice, prejudicial thinking, and discriminatory behavior.
We encourage and follow the leadership of Friends of color as we support and listen deeply to them and others afflicted by social and economic injustice.
The Racial, Social and Economic Justice Committee organizes its work by:
- Having regular face-to-face meetings: We hold in prayer all who are caught in a system of oppression and disempowerment. We strive to listen and obey the promptings of the Spirit to bring healing, wholeness, and transformation of ourselves and the world.
- Taking responsibility for distribution of the following funds consistent with the financial policies of the Yearly Meeting:
- Prejudice and Poverty Fund: We organize a working party which makes recommendations for the management of the Prejudice and Poverty Fund. Ideally the majority of this working group are people of color. Monies go to organizations and sometimes individuals addressing racial and economic justice.
- Southern Freedmen’s Fund: We currently provide scholarships to descendants of enslaved people who are preparing for careers in education. We appoint a representative to the Southern Freedmen’s Fund committee in Atlanta to be approved by the Yearly Meeting.
- Organizing resources and coordinating Yearly Meeting-wide efforts to address systemic racism: We collect, organize, and promote educational resources, and we conduct workshops related to racial, social, and economic justice. We work with the office manager to maintain information on the NEYM website.
- Initiating meetings of representatives from racial-justice-related working groups and committees to plan regular gatherings of Friends who address systemic racism in our society
- Supporting the LGBTQ+ community and working party
Each year, the RSEJ committee publishes the Freedom and Justice Crier, containing essays by New England Friends about current issues. (Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Crier was not published in 2020 or 2021.)
The Freedmen's Fund provides scholarships to descendants of slaves in the U.S. South.
- The Nominating Committee sends names to the Yearly Meeting in consultation with the committee. Friends and anti-racist activists throughout the Yearly Meeting refer names of potential members. It is helpful for committee members to be grounded in Friends tradition, be aware of the dynamics of power and racial inequality as they exist in our current society, and be gifted at modeling how transformation can happen while continuing to engage with their own ongoing internal work. We particularly invite Friends of color and people who are differently abled to join.
- The committee consists of eight to twelve members who represent diversity of age, geographic location, race, class, cultural backgrounds. We are eager to welcome and engage Friends at all levels of experience and gifts that they can bring to this work.
- Terms of membership are for three years which can be renewable for an additional term, after which a one-year sabbatical is required.
- The clerk is named by Nominating Committee in consultation with the committee and approved by the Yearly Meeting,
- RSEJ coordinates with and communicates with the NEYM treasurer, the NEYM office manager, the YM secretary, the Faith in Action Committee, the Ministry and Counsel Committee, Permanent Board and the ad-hoc Challenging White Supremacy group, the Earthcare Ministry Committee, and Sessions Committee.