By Mary Lynn Ellis, Abington Friends School Faculty Alum
Community Conversations on Race began the new year with a renewed commitment to the deep work of hope, which Equal Justice Initiative founder Bryan Stevenson calls “our superpower.” His words reminded the people who gathered on January 26th that “hopelessness is the enemy of justice. You are either hopeful or you are part of the problem.” To that end, participants responded to an excerpt from Martin Luther King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail that called on white people to step up and do what is “morally right.”
Watching a video of a recent police stop of a Black man, who was surprised and grateful to see a white ally who pulled over and filmed the incident, sparked discussion about the specific work of allies. One person noted, “I like seeing positive actions modeled, even small ones like this.” Another person said, “I appreciated the space to have a conversation with others who felt similarly. I thought the queries for white folks regarding Reverend Dr. King's Letter from Birmingham Jail and after the video about allyship were helpful in locating where I am in my own journey as an ally.”
Participants also shared race-based challenges from their own lives that they wanted help in thinking about and responding to effectively. A white member of a Board of Directors actively engaged in diversifying their membership heard suggestions for ways to support the newest member of that Board, a woman of color. He said, “I appreciated the activities at the meeting that presented real situations, as well as many different views and solutions.”
Though several participants admitted they came to the meeting feeling discouraged about the recent state of our government and other areas of angry contention, they left feeling encouraged by the connection with “like-hearted” people also engaged in anti-racist work. One person felt “part of something larger, something proactive, and was more hopeful by the end” of the evening. “Simply put, I felt called by your email asking for a ‘recommitment’ to antiracism,” said another.
Community Conversations on Race met again on February 8th and the next meeting will be on March 10, 2022 at 7 pm. Interested? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.