One of the benefits of attending Pacific Northwest Quarterly Meeting is getting to hear from other Friends meetings and worship groups in our area how they are doing. The State of Society reports that are published on the PNQM website often include notes of their activities for social justice. Here are excerpts from reports submitted in advance of the Spring 2021 gathering.
Bellingham: Over the summer, the Racial Justice Working Group that presented the online community forum began meeting with our Social and Environmental Concerns committee. The joint gatherings have yielded advocacy for climate justice, racial justice (including supporting Black Lives Matter and creation of an Indigenous/First Nations truth and reconciliation commission), and help for the homeless citizens caught in the “perfect storm” of pandemic, economic downturn, high housing prices, and winter weather. Building on the Land Acknowledgement our Meeting adopted in 2019, the committee developed and presented a Truth and Reconciliation Resolution to encourage Washington State to investigate and remedy the historical and ongoing oppression and injustice toward Native Americans here. The resolution was approved in December. The Meeting also signed onto the Whatcom Human Rights Task Force public statement opposing white supremacy.
Eastside Friends Meetinghouse stands on unceded ancestral land of the Sammamish People, who were closely related to the First People of Seattle, the Duwamish. Descendants of the Sammamish today are members of the Suquamish, Snoqualmie, and Tulalip tribes. We honor these Native communities and their Elders. We appreciate that they have been here since time immemorial, and are still here, continuing to bring light to their ancient heritage. We also recognize that American settlers forcibly removed the Sammamish from this land following the Point Elliott Treaty of 1855. The diseases, greed, and violence of settlers decimated Sammamish communities, along with many other local indigenous communities. This acknowledgement is part of our Meeting’s commitment to moving toward right relations with Indigenous people, through recognition of our own history and responsibility, and through ongoing education. (approved November 2020)
Our second hours have included several discussions leading up to a new Land Acknowledgement for Eastside Meeting (see above). This statement may change over time as we learn more. We are considering further education and action around our meeting’s relationship to local Native American communities and stewardship of the Meetinghouse woods. We have held several second hours on racial justice issues, including the history of race as a concept in U.S. history (with Paul Christiansen) and close looks at micro-aggressions (with Jodi Newman). We approved and circulated a statement rejecting violence and the threat of violence as tools in political disputes. We experimented with an “activism hour,” sharing information about current issues and sending e-mail messages to state and federal legislators. Even though many volunteer opportunities have been suspended, Eastside Friends remain active in local, state, and national issues. Several Eastsiders have met repeatedly with representatives of the Redmond Police Department (RPD) about racial equity questions. EFM Friends provided statistical analysis about racial disproportionality in RPD reporting. We will continue the conversations about implicit bias with the RPD, and EFM Friends who live in Kirkland are considering similar conversations there. A record group of nine EFM members and attenders participated in the Quaker Voice Lobby Day. Friends continue to work on issues of racial equity, criminal justice reform, Alternatives to Violence, and climate change. An emerging concern is the proposal to broaden the selective service registration requirement to include young women.
Lopez Island: Many in our meeting have been involved in our local Black Lives Matter movement dealing with racism within our own local community. We’ve also hosted an ongoing anti-racism discussion and action group and have members who regularly attended the FCG White Friends Confronting Racism weekly worship.
[For context, here is a column documenting the cultural conflict on Lopez around Black Lives Matter activities.]
Port Townsend: Members of Peace and Social Concerns guided our Spirit-led action through participation in events commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing and facilitating security and de-escalation training at a local BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, & People of Color)-led Black Lives Matter event. The Meeting held worship-sharing discussions on racism and produced a Minute on the Rejection of Violence and Racism.
South Seattle: Even as we appreciate the natural beauty surrounding our worship, we work to remember that we live and meet on land with a complex history that merits our mindfulness of the Coast Salish people, whose traditional home we share. In gratitude, SSFM and many individual members of our community support Real Rent for the Duwamish tribe.
Our Uprooting Racism Adhoc Committee continued its work this year. Actions included a decision to send a financial contribution to the Ujima Peace Center in Philadelphia and to seek connections with African2 SSFM 2020-21 State of the Meeting Report American community groups such as Rainier Beach Action Coalition. We had a discussion group around reading White Fragility. We also approved the creation of a special fund for donations to support charities that work to address racism, which both supports the values of our meeting and provides an active response to the growing voices over injustice against people of color.
Tacoma: The shocking murder of George Floyd made us examine our hearts, acknowledge our privilege and called us to action. Many committee meetings and programs followed, leading us to a new level of citizenship and social justice work. In short, we expanded into becoming more active Friends in the larger community. We did not feel moved to create a meeting minute or public statement against systemic racism as did many other Quaker meetings and organizations, though we witnessed with horror the ongoing violence and brutality. Instead, we delved into a period of necessary inner work and personal growth which led to an active commitment to put our faith into practice. Our Peace and Social Concerns Committee changed its name and became the Peace and Social Justice Committee to reflect its work more accurately. Many people who had acted individually on social justice issues found others of like mind and the work became lighter with many hands. The committee meeting was re-scheduled to be a regular 2nd hour program when it became apparent that the work of the committee had much to do with the life of the meeting as a whole. Our 2nd hour discussions took on an impressive vitality with guest speakers on topics ranging from climate change to organizations like Quaker Voice, American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), and Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL).
Whidbey Island: In response to the nationwide protests in May and June over deaths of African Americans through police violence, Whidbey Island Friends Meeting worked to craft a statement that reflected Quaker values, vision, and commitment for the future. The resulting minute, “A Statement for Dismantling Racism: A Faithful Ethical and Moral Framework,” was printed in paid ads in Whidbey Island newspapers and sent to Friends Committee on National Legislation and other organizations. Friends engaged in online anti-racism workshops and other learning opportunities, and in October a group began meeting twice a month to work slowly and deeply with Ijeoma Oluo’s book, So You Want to Talk About Race, which allowed us to examine our own experiences around race, confront our thinking and reframe responses to White Supremacy. In this work, we aim to uproot unconscious biases, transform fears and guilt, and respond more freely to Divine Guidance into action. We are aware that for us as a meeting of mostly White people, it can be only too easy to talk about anti-racism without engaging in the soul-searching and active effort that is called for. WIFM Friends also continue to be active around issues of restorative justice, climate change, sustainable food supply, and other social concerns.
As other Meetings and Worship groups submit their reports, they will be added to this post or future posts.