FGC’s Anti-Racism Ministry: March 2020 Update

Editor’s Note: This month’s update by the Institutional Assessment Implementation Committee was originally written to accompany the youth programming theme of the Vital Friends newsletter’s March 2020 issue. In response to news reports of harmful behavior towards Asian Americans and individuals currently incarcerated, members of our committee were moved to issue a statement as part of our report. Authors are noted before each update.

“Teach them well and let them lead the way…”

By Regina Renee Ward

When it comes to teaching the youngest participants in our meetings about racism and how to be anti-racist, it’s normal to have some questions along the way. What are we teaching our children? How are we teaching them? When do we start? Are we teaching them to love and embrace their own uniqueness and the uniqueness of others? Are we teaching them to value themselves and others? It is a lot. 

One way to approach the topic? Emphasize up front that everyone is different and everyone likes different things. That leads to another important lesson, which is that everyone has the right to boundaries, because everyone is valued. These are big ideas that are really important to talk about early and often with our kids.

If you’re finding yourself unsure of where to begin in the midst of these important questions and ideas, start with an activity that you and the children in your Quaker community can do together – reading! 

Here are some books to consider for you and your littles:

For teen and young adult readers, check out:

*These titles are available to order online from FGC’s bookstore, QuakerBooks.

As parents, caregivers, and community members who care, we play a major part in helping our kids develop into loving human beings who are capable of seeing the Divine in the people around them. In the words of Whitney Houston, from her song Greatest Love:

I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be.

Coronavirus and Systems of Oppression

By Olivia Pandolfi and Sarah Haber

As our country responds to COVID-19/Coronavirus disease, the effects of racism, xenophobia, classism, and other systems of oppression are being thrown into stark relief. Xenophobia and Sinophobia and racist stigma continue to financially and psychogically harm Asian and Asian American businesses across the United States, drawing on racist narratives of Asians and Asian Americans as carriers of disease. Italian restaurants, for example, are not experiencing that same backlash.

It is also worth noting that the individuals most vulnerable in our communities – those without insurance or paid sick leave, those who are undocumented, those who are incarcerated, those with disabilities or compromised immune systems – will be hit the hardest by the outbreak, as they have the least access to medical care and other parts of our social safety net. In a cruel twist of irony, it was recently reported that New York state would use prison labor to help manufacture hand sanitzer, even though inmates are not allowed to possess it themselves. 

As we wash our hands and limit our travel, we must also show up for our neighbors. We must acknowledge how the inequalities bred by racism, classism, ableism, and capitalism are being exacerbated by public health crises like the Coronavirus pandemic. And we must act from our priority to protect those most vulnerable and at risk – take collective steps toward community care, and do what we can to fill in the gaps in our systems:

  • offer to buy groceries for an elderly or chronically ill neighbor
  • resist the urge to hoard resources, and redistribute wipes, hand sanitizer, canned goods to people with compromised immune systems
  • donate money or extra food to your local food pantry
  • check in with service industry employees, self-employed people, and others who may be losing income due to cancellations and slow business
  • order takeout from Chinese restaurants in your area
  • overtip if you are still going out to eat and have the resources

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