[saymaListserv] Summary of Anti-Racism Workshop at SAYMA 6/7/03

Bert Skellie bertskellie at mindspring.com
Fri Aug 1 15:54:09 JEST 2003

Summary of 6/7/03 Workshop at Southern Appalachian Yearly Meeting & Assn.

"What Would A Non-Racist SAYMA Be Like, and How Do We Get There?"

Developed by Bert Skellie & Adelaide Solomon-Jordan, with assistance from
Atlanta Meeting's Our Roles as Individuals in America's Racial History

Abstract: "We will document that the Religious Society of Friends has been
racist from inception through now, then we will consider what a non-racist
SAYMA would be like. Next we will consider effective ways to end racism
within SAYMA. Our focus will be on how white people need to work with other

Adelaide Solomon-Jordan and Bert Skellie represented SAYMA at the
FGC-sponsored training, "Beyond Diversity 101" in Pittsburgh in January of
2003. As part of our report on that training, we developed materials showing
examples of racism within the Religious Society of Friends and role-play
exercises related to racism among Friends.  Because Adelaide was unable to
attend the June 7 workshops, Bert led the workshops during the Yearly
Meeting at Warren Wilson College.

We had planned two 70-minute workshops, one for youth and one for adults.
Three teens and one adult attended the first workshop; 13 adults and four
teens attended the second one.  Total attendance was thus 21 out of about
200 adults and teens attending Yearly Meeting.  Visually, all participants
were white, as was the leader.  The intent of these brief workshops was to
encourage participants to work to end racism in themselves and in their
Meetings.  More material was provided than we were able to review or discuss
in depth.

Here is the approximate schedule we followed in each workshop:

5 min  Opening Worship
5 min  Introductions of participants
5 min  Introduction of Workshop
5 min  Individually, on paper, define "Diversity," "Multi-cultural," and
   (In discussion explain that racism relates to actions people take, and
can exist despite
the existence of the first two. Need to acknowledge personal racism and work
eradicate it personally.)
10 min  Definition & History of Racism (See "What is Racism & What Can
Whites Do to End
  It?" & "Some Examples of Racism in the Religious Society of Friends,
1650 - Present")
10 min  View excerpt from Deborah Saunders' Pendle Hill Lecture of 11/18/02,
"My Journey as
 an African American Quaker," (10th - 20th minute of tape)
30 min  Review & Discuss "What Would a Non-Racist SAYMA be Like?" & / or do
a role play
 &  discuss (see "Role Play Exercises")

Participants reported that the workshop was helpful.  We had set up separate
workshops for teens and for adults to encourage teen participation, but
teens participated well in the second workshop, where adults outnumbered
them.  There were several suggestions for improving the draft "What Would a
Non-Racist SAYMA be like?"  One was to add details relating to First-Day
School - books, curriculum and pictures would include Friends of Color,
history studies would explain minimal role of Friends in Underground
Railroad, for example.

I hope you will find these materials helpful in your work against racism.  I
have pasted in text versions below.  I will be glad to answer questions or
hear suggestions, and I will send you formatted versions of the handouts if
you'd like.

8/1/03 Summary by Bert Skellie, bertskellie at mindspring.com, 404-378-5883

What is Racism & What Can Whites Do to End It?


"Racism is a combination of prejudice and power, a set of attitudes and
institutional arrangements that maintain the status quo of inequality. In
the United States, racism has its roots in slavery and a history in all
institutions and social patterns. Racism persists because it maintains
advantage and privilege for whites, who benefit daily from their inaction
and avoidance of the topic. Racism causes physical and emotional death for
people of color when white people undermine self-esteem, ignore ability and
achievement, stereotype, and participate in economic oppression. All of
these actions reduce quality of life for people of color and lead to bad
health from emotional and environmental stress. Racism attacks people of
color at many levels, from the interactions of everyday life to
institutional patterns of power and privilege. The elimination of racism is
key to the spiritual growth and development of everyone. Racism is a deeply
destructive, immoral system." (from statement of the Atlanta Friends Meeting
group, Our Roles as Individuals in America's Racial History (ORAIIARH),

Psychologist James Waller describes three kinds of personal racism (p.
124-127, Face to Face,  see Resources).  The first, "old fashioned racism,"
represents "the open flame of racial hatred" and includes "beliefs in white
superiority, sanctioned racial segregation, and justifiable racial
discrimination."  Much more common today are "symbolic racism" and "aversive
racism."  "Symbolic" racists oppose "special treatment by the government"
for "minorities."  Modern "aversive" racism is "characteristic of many white
Americans," according to psychologists John Dovidio and Samuel Gaertner
(cited by Waller).  ".(T)he historically racist culture of America has led
most white Americans to develop negative beliefs and feelings regarding
racial minorities.  These culturally socialized negative beliefs and
feelings are held in uneasy contrast to positive beliefs and feelings
associated with a sincerely egalitarian value system.  . Aversive racists
typically cut off their negative beliefs and feelings from conscious
awareness. The internal conflict experienced by aversive racists influences
their social judgments and impacts their interactions with minorities,
betraying itself in avoidance and coolness rather than hostility and
hatred. . In situations where interactions are unavoidable, and there are no
strong normative guidelines, the interactions are often characterized by
emotional detachment, lack of appropriate feedback, and the absence of
pertinent reinforcement."

Three types of research studies provide evidence of this "aversive racism."
In the early 1970s, Gaertner and Dovidio ".had confederates make a bogus
'wrong number' telephone call and say that their car had broken down, they
had used their last dime, and they needed the recipient of the call to
contact a local garage for a tow truck.  Whenever a person with an
identifiably black voice made the call, the (white) respondents were six
times more likely to hang up prematurely than when the call came from
someone who sounded white."  "A 1995 experiment by Dovidio asked white
students to select dormitory advisors for the coming semester - prestigious
and competitive student positions.  When the information provided about
candidates was unambiguous (i.e., uniformly positive or negative), black and
white applicants were treated equivalently.  When the candidate's record was
more ambiguous, however, white applicants were treated more favorably than
black applicants."  ".Psychologist Thomas Pettigrew describes additional
experimental research revealing that, in interactions with blacks, whites
tend to sit farther away than they do with other whites, use less friendly
voice tones, make less eye contact, and terminate relationships more


Accept Responsibility for Changing Oneself and Society, and Join Others in
the Work
Atlanta Friends Meeting ORAIIARH members ".believe that it is the
responsibility of white people to end racism. White members of the group
strive never to leave that work to people of color. We believe that the work
must begin in the hearts and lives of white people. White members of the
group hold themselves accountable for their own racist thoughts and actions,
and for the times when they remain silent when they witness racism. They
work to become reliable allies of people of color. The group supports that
process of truth and growth. ORAIIARH members commit to uprooting racism
actively, wherever we find it, at home, at work, in our neighborhoods, or at
Meeting. In order to uproot racism, we continually have to push ourselves
and those we interact with, beyond our comfort zones, by interrupting the
patterns of racism. We put the lives of people of color at the center of our
work. No member of ORAIIARH will be free until all our members can live in
full respect - that is, until racism has been eliminated. Our meetings are
an evolving way to help each other live out these values. For us, the work
requires continual attention, a lifelong commitment, and the discipline of
meeting regularly as a group. In this way, we live out our faith in the
ongoing transformation that is possible in the Spirit" (from 5/11/02

Brief List of Resources

  *"The Color of Fear," an hour and a half video "on the state of race
relations in America as seen through the eyes of eight men of various
ethnicities" (Stir Fry Seminars & Consulting, 470 Third St., Oakland, CA
94607, 510-419-3930, fax 419-3934).
  *Colored People, a memoir by Henry Louis Gates, a Harvard University
professor & editor of Encyclopedia Encarta Africana
  *Face to Face: The Changing State of Racism Across America, by James
Waller, 1996
 *40 Ways to Raise a Nonracist Child, by Barbara Mathias, 1996
  *"Implicit Association Test" at
  *It's the Little Things: The Everyday Interactions that Get Under the Skin
of Blacks and Whites, by Lena Williams, 2002
  *Maggie's American Dream, by James Comer, an educator and  psychologist
  *Once Upon a Time When We Were Colored, by Clifton Taubert
  *Uprooting Racism: How White People Can Work for Racial  Justice,  by Paul
  *While We Run This Race: Confronting the Power of Racism in a Southern
Church, 1995, by Nibs Stroupe and Inez Fleming
  *Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria: A
Psychologist Explains the Development of Racial Identity, 1997, by Beverly
Daniel Tatum

For More Information on ORAIIARH or how to set up a group:

Contact Bert Skellie, bertskellie at mindspring.com, 404-378-5883

  Some Examples of Racism in the Religious Society of Friends, 1650 -

1650 - 1760 (est.)  Friends enslaved people

1671 Fox visits Barbados slave-holding Friends (Taylor, p. 7)

Late 1600s Sarah Lay finds Friend whipping a runaway slave (Taylor, p. 7)

1650 - 1970 Some Friends & Friends' institutions participate in segregation

1756 "Great Meetinghouse" at 2nd & Market includes separate seating for
African Americans (Taylor, p. 11)

<1776 Some Friends Meetings prohibit burial of those of African descent
(Cadbury, p. 4)

1765-1814 William Bowen (African American) first applies and finally
admitted as member to Mount Holly (Cadbury, p. 18)

1781-84 Abigail Franks' (of color) application sent to Yearly Meeting,
finally approved
1838 Sarah Mapps Douglass shares her mother's experience of hearing from a
Friend that her mother (an African American) should not apply for
membership; also writes of her own experience having to sit in a "bench for
black people" at Arch Street Meeting (Friends Work, p. 1)

~1840 - 1865 Many Friends read out of meetings for Underground Railroad work
(Friends Work, p. 1)

1945 Only 4 of 20 Philadelphia Friends Schools are integrated (Taylor, p.

<1950 Friends purchased houses with "restrictive covenants," not allowing
houses to be sold to black people (Taylor, p. 19)

1962 Sidwell Friends School still not integrated (Taylor, p. 17)

1963 None of 12 Friends' boarding homes had ever had a black guest (Taylor,
p. 21)

1967 (to present?) Some Friends are members of white-only private clubs
(Taylor, p. 18)

1970 (to present?) Most Friends live in all-white communities (Taylor, p.

1997-2003 Examples of racist acts in Atlanta:

A white man gives a message in Meeting for Worship praising his father's
"taking care" of his African American tenants, indicating approval of  a
patronizing approach.

More than once, an African American speaks of racism in a message, and is
unofficially "eldered" (more like "attacked") by a white person either
through a counter message or directly at close of meeting.

A woman of color resigns as youth director because of racism.

Whites confuse another woman of color with the woman who resigned.

~2002  Friends school parent gives message during school worship that
demeans Rosa Parks (Julye, p. 2)

~2002 Friends of European descent calls Friend of Color by another Friend of
Color's name; say "don't see color of .skin"  (Friends Work, p. 1)

~2002  Friends still use term "overseer" (Friends Work, p. 3)

~2002 Friends seem to require a person of color to carry a resume', and ask
"why are you here?"  "I have been here for years, and you act like I am a
visitor." Covert racism now; " a person may not want to sit beside me
because I might talk of racial things.  I can't not talk about racial
matters."  (Saunders)


Henry Cadbury, "Negro Membership in the Religious Society of Friends,"
Journal of Negro History, 1936

"Friends Work on Racism," FGC Connections, Spring 2002

Vanessa Julye, "Faithful to God's Leading," Quaker Life, May 2002.

ORAIIARH (Our Roles as Individuals in America's Racial History), summary of
acts noted in various meetings

Deborah Saunders, "My Journey as an African American Quaker," Pendle Hill
Lecture, November 18, 2002, video

Richard K. Taylor, "Friends and the Racial Crisis," Pendle Hill Pamphlet
172, 1970

Prepared by Bert Skellie for SAYMA workshop 6/7/03

What Would A Non-Racist SAYMA be Like?
& How Do We Get There?
(work in progress, Bert Skellie 6/4/03)

1. White members and attenders will be working regularly on recognizing and
eliminating their own personal racism, working to become reliable allies to
people of color.

2. Whites will regularly read books, see videos and listen to tapes which
give the experiences of people of color in their own voices.

3. Whites will regularly use queries and other ways of reflecting on racism
within their Meetings and within themselves.  This will include all
committees or groups within each Meeting.

4. People of Color will be truly welcomed, as themselves, to become part of
the Quaker community.

5. There will be very few instances of racist actions in Meeting
communities.  But when such behavior occurs, whites will take the lead in
calling attention to the behavior and ensuring that apologies are made.

6. People of Color will feel supported in letting whites know of any racist

7. Whites will not be defensive when anyone suggests or asserts that
behavior is or may be racist; they will, at minimum, reflect on the
possibility.  They will recognize that someone's pointing out racism can be
seen as a gift. In general, they will assume that a behavior is, in fact,
racist, regardless of their intent.  As appropriate, they will apologize for
their behavior, and will work to change.  They will use active listening in
hearing such criticisms.

8. Whites will use role play, discussions, and any other method in order to
be prepared to act during their next encounter with their own, or someone
else's racist behavior.

9. Meetinghouses will be located conveniently for people of color.

Friends General Conference, New England Yearly Meeting, Pendle Hill and
QuakerPages offer resources related to racism among Friends on their web
sites.  Here are some references:


Plus a good book: Taking it Personally by Ann Berlak & Sekani Moyenda, 2001.

Role Play Exercises for SAYMA Anti-Racism Workshop 6/7/03
Draft (6/4) by Bert Skellie

Generally, in small groups, review the sketch of the scene, edit it to come
closer to your experience, then act it out once or more.  The first
run-through will be as written.  Next will include intervention against the
racist action.  Finally, act it with an alternative to the racist action.
Follow with discussion of how to improve.  I have provided a possible
intervention for the first scene.  For others, come up with one or more

1. Greeting at First-Day

A person of color who is not known to the white greeter approaches.  Greeter
says, "can I help you?"  (Possible intervention: Second white greeter (or
bystander) steps up and says, "welcome," and shakes hands with the person of
color.  As soon as possible, after person of color properly greeted, second
greeter explains racist behavior to first, and asks first greeter to
apologize as soon as possible.)

2. White Friend Calls Friend of Color by Name of Another

Friend of color enters room, is greeted by wrong name by white Friend.
Friend of color tells correct name.  White Friend, perplexed, moves away

3. Racist "Eldering"

Just after Meeting for worship, white Friend "elders" Friend of Color for
mentioning racism and being "angry" while delivering a message.

4.   White Friend Calls White Behavior "Racist"

(Continuation of scene #1 above.)  First greeter is offended at "being
called a racist" (note, only behavior has been called racist), and denies
racist behavior.  Second greeter backs off.

5. Friend of Color Confides in White Friend

A Friend of color lets a white Friends know that he has been treated in a
racist way by whites at Meeting.  He mentions hearing messages that deny his
experience, being mistaken for another man of color, and being asked to be
on every committee.  White Friend "helps" Friend of Color to see that there
are other explanations for each of these actions.

Role Plays (Continued)

6. White Friend Claims not to be Racist

A white Friend explains proudly to a group that she has worked in the Civil
Rights Movement and continues to support the cause and has always tried to
be "color-blind" and fair and equitable to everyone and doesn't have a
racist bone in her body.  (Drafted by Karen Morris.)

Other Exercises for SAYMA Anti-Racism Workshop 6/7/03
Draft (6/4) by Adelaide Solomon-Jordan & Bert Skellie

1. Individually, on paper, define Diversity, Multicultural, Racism

2. If you are not Black, privately write down your first memory of a Black
person. How did you feel?  Why did you have that feeling? (If African
American, answer how you felt the first time you were in an all-white

Next get in triads to discuss these experiences. After each has described
his or her experience, share with each other why you felt what you felt.
(Should be done in two parts. 1. tell story, 2. feelings.)

3. Read, discuss and raise questions about Bert's draft, "What Would A
Non-Racist SAYMA be Like .?" (6/7/03).

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