I had several new experiences this weekend. The recent incidents involving police killings and the killing of police officers has kept racial injustices and Friends’ responses, or lack thereof, on my mind. I am disappointed that more Friends don’t seem to be more engaged in this area. I’ve also written that I think it is especially important now for Friends to be speaking out.
Black Lives Matter (BLM) is a movement of black youth who are committed to nonviolent social change. Friends’ history of using the tools of nonviolence for social change would be very helpful for BLM. Last month I spoke about Quakers, civil disobedience, the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement and the Keystone Pledge of Resistance at an Indy10/Black Lives Matter public event. I urge you to connect with your local BLM group. Facebook may be the best way to do so.
The calls for, and work for change is dependent upon the response and support of white people. White institutions and social and legal contracts are at the root of racial injustice in the United States. Positions of political power are overwhelmingly held and controlled by white people, who support the white privilege system. We are the problem and we need to change in order to begin to fix the problem.
Racial justice, and Black Lives Matter, need vocal, visible and spiritual support from Quakers now. How often has the Underground Railroad been invoked during discussions of Friends and slavery and racial justice in your experience? Have you wondered what you would have done if you had been present back then? Twenty years from now what will you remember when you think back to this time and what you did?
I have been thinking a lot about peace building and feel that addressing economic, environmental and racial injustice is what constitutes peace building today in the United States.
Thus I made the sign below to take to our weekly peace vigil in front of the Federal Building in downtown Indianapolis. However, I had forgotten this was the weekend of the Black Expo. As I was walking to the Federal Building and entered the downtown mall, I was suddenly in the middle of thousands of black people. I was unsure of what the reaction would be. During the next hour there were a lot of interactions, both with people driving and those walking past our group of three, and they were all positive. Many people said “thanks” with smiles. Someone said “that’s a good sign, a damn good sign”. “Our lives DO matter”, said another.
Then, carrying the sign on the way home after the peace vigil, I was surprised by the sound of an air horn, and looked up into the cab of the tractor trailer passing by, where two young black men were grinning and waving their arms.
These little things have surprising results. Just think what you might do, and what you might receive in response.
It was also a pleasant surprise that we had a new attender at North Meadow Meeting yesterday. She said she had come because she was glad to hear of a place where people were talking about Black Lives Matter.
I was really pleased that Jenny, from Bear Creek Meeting, shared her design below for a decal she is going to have copies made of. I hope you will consider how you might show your support.