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2019 Annual Report of the Racial, Social and Economic Justice Committee
Both continuity and change describe RSEJ’s vitality. The committee continues to emphasize its spiritual approach in serving NEYM; at the same time we welcome the change that surrounds us. We join Friends across New England as we embrace the common direction of several working groups and committees—all in pursuit of racial justice.
Friends’ belief that there is that of God in each person nurtures our equality testimony, which is the foundation of Quakers’ peace testimony and commitment to justice. Equality means everyone: no exceptions, as FCNL reminds us. We encourage spiritual engagement, in witness and ministry among Friends and the world, focusing primarily on racial justice, prejudicial thinking, and discriminatory behavior. RSEJ asks: “Friends, are we accompanying the oppressed or the oppressors?”
One of our committee’s purposes is to help NEYM examine the institutional aspect of racism as we learn about systems of oppression that intersect with systemic racism—sexism, classism, heterosexism, and colonialism. Friends’ unwavering commitment to the equality testimony is what led RSEJ to minute the moral injury that is inherent in FUM’s hiring policy—instead of accompanying the oppressor, it is our hope to express unified opposition to a policy that discriminates against LGBT+ Friends. Let us shift together to accompany the oppressed. Will we, as a yearly meeting, remain committed to decolonizing our practices?
Another way to answer the question (about whom we are accompanying) is to form a book discussion group to read Angie Thomas’s young adult novel, The Hate U Give.
This summer’s Freedom & Justice Crier helps all grasp the richness of racial justice work occurring throughout NEYM. A new responsibility for RSEJ is to initiate meetings of representatives from racial justice-related working groups and committees to plan regular gatherings of Friends who address systemic racism in our society.
As in past years, RSEJ continues to administer two funds. We welcome applications for Prejudice & Poverty grants (from a contributory fund to which Friends can donate). We also honor the scholars who are current recipients of grants from NEYM’s endowed Freedmen's Fund.
We welcome and engage Friends at all levels of experience and gifts that they can bring to this work. We are eager for our committee’s membership to represent a greater diversity of age, race, class, and cultural backgrounds. RSEJ invites you to join the work wherever you can: with one of our allied working groups, with a book group you organize, or as a member of our committee.
Scott Rhodewalt, clerk