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Filtering by Category: Liz Oppenheimer

Our good intentions fail our Friends of color

Liz Oppenheimer

by Liz Oppenheimer

We are cautioned in the letter from the elders of Balby that “these things [which we have shared with you] we do not lay upon you as a rule or form to walk by, but that all with the measure of light which is pure and holy may be guided . . . and fulfilled in the Spirit,—not from the letter, for the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life.” (Emphasis added)

Our current books of discipline, our yearly meetings’ books of faith and practice were conceived of and written largely by white Friends with limited or no direct experience, or analysis, of the cumulative harms of racism, white supremacy, and implicit bias. Year after year, generation after generation, although our good intentions as white Friends have carried our predominantly white worship communities through racial tensions, we have failed our Friends of color, whether they worship with us on First Days or not. We must begin to consider the possibility that our Faith and Practice may be flawed or that we have begun to rely too much on guidance from the printed word, rather than on the Spirit that brought them forth. The words and advices contained therein may reinforce patterns, behaviors, and worldviews grounded in unexamined whiteness, unknowingly cultivating attitudes that favor compliance or conformity to worldly norms rather than encouraging unity with the Living Spirit.

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Becoming More Whole

Liz Oppenheimer

by Liz Oppenheimer

Over the years, I have often heard the statement, "Racism hurts everyone."

I've been confused by that, since I myself am not a person of color and I didn't see how I was being hurt.

In 2010 and 2011, I attended the annual national White Privilege Conference and that statement--Racism hurts everyone--has worked on me. But it wasn't until the intersection of two things coming together that my heart and spirit opened to that Truth.

First, a local Quaker friend pointed me to the words of Philadelphia Friend Arlene Kelly:

We are not a homogenous group seeking to become more diverse; we are an incomplete organization seeking to become more whole. --Friends Journal, October 2010

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