Working Group on Racism Annual Reports

The text of recently received Annual Reports of the Working Group on Racism are below, with the most recently received at the top and older reports below. To jump to a particular report, simply click the year listed below.

2010 Report 2011 Report 2012 Report 2013 Report 2014 Report 2015 Report
2016 Report  

2016 Annual Report

The 2015 BYM Annual Session Workshops

The Working Group conducted two workshops for 2015 Annual Session. Phil Caroom of Annapolis Friends Meeting led a workshop about what is happening around mass incarceration and prison reform in the District of Columbia and each state where there are BYM Monthly Meetings. David Etheridge of Friends Meeting of Washington led a workshop entitled “Living into Right Relationship in our Multiracial Society” exploring resources available to Friends who wish to address individual, institutional or structural racism. The Working Group also played a role in arranging for two other workshops. One was a workshop on the Prison Ministry of Patapsco Friends Meeting. The other was about the Underground Railroad presented by Jenny Mazur of the National Park Service.

Vision Statement Discernment

At its 2015 Annual Session Baltimore Yearly Meeting decided to ask local Meetings to consider and season a proposal from the WGR to revise the BYM Vision Statement to state more explicitly that we are composed of people of all genders and sexual orientations, racial, ethnic, gender and class groups, and intend to work intentionally to overcome the existing barriers to that vision of ourselves. These changes would support the new commitment the Yearly Meeting is making to change our existing culture and to become a more multicultural Yearly Meeting. The support of the Shoemaker Fund is helping us work towards this goal with a 3-year $225,000 grant. The WGR has been in conversation with BYM Committees and local Meetings—and visited some of them—about the seasoning process.

White Privilege Conference

At the request of the Working Group on Racism Baltimore Yearly Meeting agreed to be one of the sponsors of the 2016 White Privilege Conference that Friends General Conference hosted in Philadelphia from April 14th to the 17th. The White Privilege Conference resembles the FGC Gathering in that it is composed of an abundance of workshops, presentations, films, youth programs, interest groups and networking, but instead of being about all things Quaker, it is about every aspect of racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination and how to understand and address those issues. The Working Group and some of its individual members donated a total of $500 to support the White Privilege Conference. Several members of the Working Group attended the conference.

Maryland Alliance for Justice Reform (MAJR)

In 2013 the WGR sponsored a one-book program encouraging Meetings to read and discuss Michelle Alexander’s book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. The following year WGR participants who live in Maryland joined others in lobbying the Maryland Legislature to establish a taskforce to explore how the incarceration rate might be reduced. That proposed legislation was not passed. Those who had lobbied for creation of the taskforce decided that for 2015 they would instead urge the passage of seven bills addressing mass incarceration. To support that effort they established the Maryland Alliance for Justice Reform (MAJR), which succeeded in getting two of those bills enacted.

In 2016 MAJR is advocating for passage of the Justice Reinvestment Act. The bill would provide for earlier drug, mental health treatment and alternative dispute resolution programs. It would also require nondiscriminatory offender risk-needs assessments to avoid unneeded intervention for low-risk offenders and to target more effective services to mid- and high-risk offenders. Reduction of sentences for many drug-related and other non-violent offenses would be permitted as well as reducing the sentences for inmates currently serving time for similar offenses. Sentencing guidelines would be revised to expand alternatives to incarceration and to include suspended sentences in calculating guideline compliance. The legislation would establish graduated sanctions for technical parole violations rather than requiring all parole violators to be returned to prison. Other features of the bill provide more victim restitution, the parole of elderly and disabled inmates, grants for local reinvestment programs, training for staff who work with prisoners, and funding for a statewide network of local reentry programs

Protest of the Martin Luther King weekend Lee-Jackson commemoration

Since 2013 the Baltimore area Friends Meetings conducted a silent protest vigil on the Saturday before the Martin Luther King national holiday across from the commemoration of Confederate Generals Lee and Jackson by the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) and the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV). The BYM Working Group joined the vigil in January 2015. The increased Quaker involvement together with the involvement of the Baltimore chapter of the NAACP led to media coverage. In January 2016 the Working Group showed up again for the vigil, but only other protesters, law enforcement and journalists were present. According to news reports, The SCV and UDC decided to cancel their commemoration due to what they called “the current climate.”

Workshops planned for 2016 BYM Annual Sessions

The Working Group plans to conduct three workshop at the 2016 Annual Session.

One of them is entitled, “Preventing Incarceration at the ‘Front Door’” and will discuss how Friends can support diversion services. Studies show that when youthful offenders are held in detention three to 30 days before trial their re-offending increases nearly 80%. This workshop will describe various early diversion approaches including mediation, drug treatment and mental health programs.

In another workshop three BYM Quakers who attended the 17th White Privilege Conference (WPC17) will facilitate a conversation about it. FGC hosted and BYM sponsored WPC17, where over 1500 people of all races examined concepts of privilege and oppression. They tried to discern solutions and strategies to work toward a more equitable world.

The third workshop is called “Discernment and Action on Inclusion in BYM.” For months local Meetings have seasoned a proposal to state explicitly our vision of BYM as including all races and ethnicities and to commit ourselves to making that vision a reality. This workshop will invite us to share with each other what we have discerned.

Within the Working Group on Racism

The Working Group’s monthly meetings always make time for Friends to share their experiences with respect to race since the last meeting and to share books, articles, films and presentations on the topic of race that have come to the attention of individual Working Group members. In addition to those who regularly attend our meetings, there are about twenty Friends who do not attend, but stay informed of our activities through an email list that spares them many of our more logistics-oriented emails.

Communications within BYM

Our Working Group is under the care of the BYM Ministry and Pastoral Care Committee. We meet once or twice a year with that Committee to keep it updated on our activities and concerns and to seek counsel.

The Working Group maintains a list of Monthly Meeting liaisons who receive a monthly item for their newsletters or other means of dissemination.

Active Monthly Meeting Working Groups on Racism exist at Langley Hill Friends Meeting, Baltimore area Friends Meetings (Stony Run, Homewood and Gunpowder) and Annapolis. Friends Meeting of Washington has an on-going discussion group based on the book, Waking up White: and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving.

Communications beyond BYM

Working Group members maintain contact with Friends in New England, New York, Philadelphia, South Central and Intermountain Yearly Meetings who are involved in racial justice work as well as with individual Friends around the country doing that work.


2015 Annual Report

The 2014 BYM Annual Session

The Working Group on Racism sponsored two workshops at the 2014 Annual Sessions. One, led by Tory Johnson from the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) and Philip Caroom of Annapolis Friends Meeting, focused on current FCNL work to end mass incarceration and proposed legislation to be introduced to the Maryland General Assembly in 2015. For the second workshop members of the Working Group facilitated a discussion among Friends about how the One Book program on The New Jim Crow had gone that past year and what steps Friends may be led to take to address the issues raised in that book. It was led by Philip Caroom, Oliver Moles and Pat Schenck.

Maryland Alliance for Justice Reform (MAJR)

Working Group on Racism participants who live in Maryland joined others in lobbying the Maryland Legislature last year to establish a taskforce to explore how the incarceration rate might be reduced. That proposed legislation was not passed in 2014. Those who had lobbied for creation of the taskforce decided that for 2015 they would instead urge the passage of seven bills addressing mass incarceration. To support that effort they established the Maryland Alliance for Justice Reform (MAJR). That organization introduced five bills, and two of them were passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor. One bill establishes a council that will study best practices in criminal justice from around the country, working with the Pew Research Center, and make recommendations for Maryland. The other one allows people with a record of certain misdemeanors, after three years without an additional offense, to “shield” their record (hide it from the public, not from law enforcement), allowing them to gain employment, find a place to live, and thereby to support their families and become tax-paying contributors to society.

Other work in progress

The Working Group is working to promote attendance and otherwise support the White Privilege Conference in Philadelphia in the spring of 2016. Friends General Conference is hosting the conference.

The Working Group is also exploring ways to facilitate the involvement of Friends who do not live in the Baltimore and Washington areas in its activities.

The mission statement is being revised—primarily to include addressing some racial issues in the larger society (such as mass incarceration).

As part of the BYM visioning process, the Working Group is exploring with the Yearly Meeting whether it is prepared to make a commitment to becoming more racially, economically and ethnically inclusive than it currently is.

In recent years the Baltimore area Friends Meetings conducted a silent vigil on the Saturday before the Martin Luther King national holiday across from the commemoration of Lee and Jackson by the Sons of Confederate Veterans. The BYM Working Group joined them in January 2015 and provided additional support to the vigil. The increased Quaker involvement together with the involvement of the Baltimore chapter of the NAACP appears to have led to more media coverage than in the past. The Working Group intends to continue its vigil to urge the Sons of Confederate Veterans to hold their observance on a date other than the weekend of the Martin Luther King national holiday.

Plans for the 2015 BYM Annual Session

The Working Group is conducting two workshops for 2015 Annual Sessions. Tila Neguse of FCNL, Bob Rhudy of Patapsco Friends Meeting, and Phil Caroom of Annapolis Friends Meeting will be leading a workshop about what is happening around mass incarceration and prison reform in the District of Columbia and each state where there are BYM Monthly Meetings. David Etheridge of Friends Meeting of Washington will lead a workshop entitled “Living into Right Relationship in our Multiracial Society” exploring resources available to Friends who wish to address individual, institutional or structural racism. The Working Group also played a role in arranging for two other workshops. One is a workshop on the Prison Ministry of Patapsco Friends Meeting by Jean Pfefferkorn, Bob and Becca Rhudy, and Susannah and Jim Rose. The other is about the Underground Railroad presented by Jenny Mazur of the National Park Service.

Within the Working Group on Racism

The Working Group’s monthly meetings always make time for Friends to share their experiences with respect to race since the last meeting and to share books, articles, films and presentations on the topic of race that have come to the attention of individual Working Group members. In addition to those who regularly attend our meetings, there are about twenty Friends who do not attend, but stay informed of our activities through an email list that spares them many of our more logistics-oriented emails.

Communications within BYM

Our Working Group is under the care of the BYM Ministry and Pastoral Care Committee. We meet once or twice a year with the Committee to keep it updated on our activities and concerns and to seek counsel. That committee has designated a liaison who has attended some of the Working Group's meetings.

The Working Group maintains a list of Monthly Meeting liaisons who receive a monthly item for their newsletters or other means of dissemination.

Active Monthly Meeting Working Groups on Racism exist at Langley Hill Friends Meeting, Baltimore area Friends Meetings (Stony Run, Homewood and Gunpowder) and Annapolis. Friends Meeting of Washington has begun a four-year discussion group using the book, Waking up White: and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving.

Communications beyond BYM

Working Group members maintain contact with Friends in New England, New York, Philadelphia, South Central and Intermountain Yearly Meetings who are involved in racial justice work as well as with individual Friends around the country involved in that work.


2014 Annual Report

The 2013 BYM Annual Sessions

The Working Group on Racism conducted the Wednesday Plenary at the 2013 BYM Annual Sessions. Teenagers and adults at the annual sessions, led by Elizabeth DuVerlie and Gail Thomas, explored their experiences with privilege, exclusion and inclusion primarily with respect to race, gender, class, age and sexual identity. The inspiration for that plenary session came from a plenary session on privilege held a few years earlier at Northern Yearly Meeting.

The Working Group also arranged for a simultaneous separate session for elementary school age children and their parents led by Marcy Seitel and Meg Meyer entitled “That’s Not Fair.” Participants experienced what it is like to have unequal classroom resources available to different children and discussed those inequalities and what they might do to address them. That source for that activity was Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The Working Group on Racism also sponsored two workshops at the 2013 Annual Session. Pat Schenck and Rosemary Davis led the first workshop entitled, “Coming to Terms with Race and Ethnicity.” A panel of white Friends and Friends of color addressed several questions related to their own experiences including whether race has been a constant concern or a minor factor in their lives and how race has affected them. Ollie Moles and David Etheridge led a second workshop in which participants viewed and discussed the World Trust DVD, “Cracking the Codes: The System of Racial Inequity.” The workshop provided a foundation for understanding the existing system of race in the U.S. and for addressing the barrier to creating communities with equitable and sustainable access to resources for all.

Also during annual sessions the Working Group invited Monthly Meetings to participate in a “One Book” program by inviting Friends and neighbors to read and discuss The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. That book describes how the campaign known as the “War on Drugs” resulted in dramatically expanding the U.S. prison population as well as incarceration rates among African-Americans and Hispanics that dwarf the rate of incarceration among white people even though studies show that people of all races use and sell illegal drugs at remarkably similar rates.

Other work in progress

The Working Group continues to keep abreast of developments at Detroit Friends School, the only Quaker school with a majority African-American student body. It also continues to work on improving its BYM website, reducing barriers to involvement of Friends under the age of 60 in its work and discerning how t0 respond to participants who seem to make that work more difficult. This past year we learned about how changing policies of the U.S. Census affect, and are affected by, perceptions of race in the U.S. We took time at several meetings of the Working Group to discuss The New Jim Crow among ourselves. The Working Group is also exploring how Baltimore Yearly Meeting might work with Friends General Conference when that organization hosts the annual White Privilege Conference in Philadelphia in 2016.

Plans for the 2014 BYM Annual Sessions

The Working Group is planning two workshops for 2014 Annual Sessions. One is to be led by Tory Johnson from the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) that will focus on current FCNL work to end mass incarceration. For the second workshop members of the Working Group will facilitate a discussion among Friends about how the One Book program on The New Jim Crow has gone this past year and what steps Friends may be led to take to address the issues raised in that book.

Within the Working Group on Racism

The Working Group’s monthly meetings always begin with Friends’ sharing their experiences with respect to race since the last meeting followed by sharing books, articles, films and presentations on the topic of race that have come to the attention of individual Working Group members. In addition to those who regularly attend our meetings, there are about twenty Friends who do not attend, but stay informed of our activities through an email list that spares them many of our more logistics-oriented emails.

Communications within BYM

Our Working Group is under the care of the BYM Ministry and Pastoral Care Committee. We meet once or twice a year with the Committee to keep it updated on our activities and concerns and to seek counsel. That committee has designated a liaison who has attended some of the Working Group's meetings.

The Working Group maintains a list of Monthly Meeting liaisons who receive a monthly item for their newsletters or other means of dissemination.

Active Monthly Meeting Working Groups on Racism exist at Langley Hill Friends Meeting, Baltimore area Friends Meetings (Stony Run, Homewood and Gunpowder) and Annapolis. The Baltimore area Friends Meetings conducted a silent vigil on the Saturday before the Martin Luther King national holiday across from the commemoration of Lee and Jackson by the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Our Working Group has decided to hold its January meeting at Stony Run in 2015 so we can provide additional support to the vigil.

Members of the Working Group traveled to Williamsburg and Richmond Monthly Meetings, Chesapeake Quarterly Meeting and the Maryland Peace and Justice Conference to conduct presentations on race issues.

Communications beyond BYM

Working Group members maintain contact with Friends in New England, New York, Philadelphia, South Central and Intermountain Yearly Meetings who are involved in racial justice work as well as with individual Friends around the country involved in that work.


2013 Annual Report

The 2012 BYM Annual Sessions
The Working Group on Racism presented three workshops at the 2012 Annual Session. One focused on the life of Gordon Hirabayashi, a long-time member of University Friends Meeting of Seattle, who went to prison for refusing to obey an internment order during the Second World War. A second was based on Working Group member Pat Schenck’s recent Pendle Hill Pamphlet entitled Living our Testimony on Equality: A White Friend’s Experience.

A third workshop was entitled “What Is This Thing Called Privilege? And What Do We Do With It?” Participants helped the Working Group test ideas for a plenary session being designed for the 2013 Annual Sessions. Over the past year this workshop was also conducted at Stony Run and Bethesda Monthly Meetings and at Chesapeake Quarterly Meeting.

Plans for the 2013 BYM Annual Sessions
For 2013 Annual Session we will lead the Wednesday afternoon multigenerational (JYFs and older) plenary exploring the concept of privilege. While the plenary is under way Marcy Seitel and Meg Meyer will be leading a program called, “That’s Not Fair!” based on materials prepared by the Teaching Tolerance program of the Southern Poverty Law Center for elementary school children and their parents. We anticipate having both an interest group and a conversation table in the quieter part of the dining hall for Friends who wish to have further conversation concerning privilege.

The Working Group is also planning to offer two workshops at Annual Session. On Thursday Rosemary Davis and Pat Schenck will lead one called “Coming to terms with race and ethnicity,” which will feature a panel of Friends from diverse background discussing their life experiences with race and ethnicity. On Saturday Friends will have the opportunity to view and discuss the DVD, Cracking the Codes, to help them understand the existing system of race in the U.S. and provide a foundation for addressing barriers to creating communities with equitable and sustainable access to resources for all.

Other work in progress
The Working Group wrote to Friends who attended the FGC Gathering for Friends of Color last fall about an effort to develop a nationwide network of Quaker supporters for Friends School in Detroit similar to the one that exists for Friends School in Ramallah. Detroit Friends School is the only Quaker school with a majority African-American student body.

We are also working on plans to encourage Friends to read and discuss The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander over a period of a year. We continue to work on improving our BYM website and on reducing barriers to involvement of Friends under the age of 60 in our work. We are also exploring using queries as way to address issues of race.

Within the Working Group on Racism
The Working Group’s monthly meetings always begin with Friends’ sharing their experiences with respect to race since the last meeting followed by sharing books, articles, films and presentations on the topic of race that have come to the attention of individual Working Group members. Most months one member of the group shares with the group her or his spiritual journey with respect to racial justice. In addition to those who regularly attend our meetings, there are about twenty Friends who do not attend, but keep informed of our activities through an email list that spares them many of our more logistics-oriented emails.

Communications within BYM
Our Working Group is under the care of the BYM Ministry and Pastoral Care Committee. We meet once or twice a year with the Committee to keep the Committee updated on our activities and concerns and to seek counsel. That committee has designated a liaison who has attended some of the Working Group's meetings.

The Working Group assisted the Faith and Practice Revision Committee in revising the history portion of the proposed new Faith and Practice addressing BYM Quakers and enslavement based on research by the Working Group on Racism and other BYM Friends.

The Working Group maintains a list of Monthly Meeting liaisons who receive a monthly item for their newsletters or other means of dissemination. Active Monthly Meeting Working Groups on Racism exist at Langley Hill Friends Meeting, Baltimore area Friends Meetings (Stony Run, Homewood and Gunpowder) and Annapolis. Several Monthly Meetings have been quite active this past year. Patapsco Friends Meeting conducted a discussion series on Fit for Freedom, not for Friendship by Vanessa Julye and Donna McDaniel. The Baltimore area Friends Meetings conducted a silent vigil on the Saturday before the Martin Luther King national holiday across from the commemoration of Lee and Jackson by the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Langley Hill Friends hosted a brunch discussion of The History of White People by Nell Irvin Painter.

Members of the Working Group offer to travel to local Meetings to conduct presentations on race issues, but very few such visits actually occur.

Communications beyond BYM
BYM Working Group members maintain contact with Friends in New England, New York, Philadelphia and Intermountain Yearly Meetings who are involved in racial justice work as well as with individual Friends around the country involved in that work. This past year we also wrote to the Sikh American Legal Defense & Education Fund expressing concern and solidarity after recent attacks on Sikhs in northern Virginia.


2012 Annual Report

The 2011 BYM Annual Session
After having organized three plenary sessions and conducting three workshops and a program for Young Friends at the 2010 Annual Sessions, the Working Group on Racism had a reduced presence at the 2011 Annual Sessions. David Etheridge and Sabrina McCarthy gave for a second time their presentation on the Quaker Response to Enslavement in BYM Territory. The 2011 presentation was notable for the contribution by workshop participants of new information on the topic not previously known to the presenters. At an interest group the DVD Teens Talk Racial Privilege, which Young Friends saw the previous year, was screened for adults to consider whether it might be appropriate for use in their Meetings and schools. The Working Group also had tables with books on issues of race for all age groups at the All Age Celebration.

Visit to the Sandy Spring Slave Museum
Working Group member Ellen Cronin took the lead on organizing a visit to the Sandy Spring on November 19, 2011 Slave Museum and inviting Friends from throughout the Yearly Meeting attend. The initial plan was to limit the number of visitors to 60, but the museum docent accommodated more than 70 Friends who showed up by giving her presentation twice. The variety of visuals helped all generations readily get a sense of the real history of African Americans in this country and in the Sandy Spring area. In addition to addressing enslavement, the museum also celebrates the progress and accomplishments of African Americans. Friends were touched by the story of the formation and founding of the Museum, how it attracted community support, and how people are invited to continue sharing their history.

Within the Working Group on Racism
The Working Groups monthly meetings always begin with Friends’ sharing their experiences with respect to race since the last meeting followed by sharing books, articles, films and presentations on the topic of race that have come to attention of individual Working Group members. Each month one member of the group shares with the group her or his spiritual journey with respect to racial justice. There are nine Friends who regularly attend our meetings and twice that number who do not attend, but have asked to be kept informed of our activities (while sparing them many of our more logistics-oriented correspondence). At the end of 2011 Working Group members expressed their appreciation for the five and a half years that Elizabeth DuVerlie has clerked the Working Group. David Etheridge became clerk in January 2012.

Communications within BYM
The Working Group is under the care of the BYM Ministry and Pastoral Care Committee. Members of our Working Group meet once or twice a year with the Committee to keep the Committee updated on our activities and concerns and to seek counsel. At the 2011 Annual Sessions the Working Group met with the Committee to share our plans for the near future, our interest in assessing what impact our work is having, and our interest involving younger Friends in our work (our meetings are rarely attended by anyone less than 60 years of age). We shared with the Committee our interest in lowering the barriers to participation by people of color in the activities of BYM Friends (while noting progress in that area in the camping programs), encouraging Monthly Meetings to do locally based anti-racism work and helping Friends be more comfortable in addressing racial issues. The Committee encouraged the Working Group to set a limited number of priorities for the next few years in order to make it easier to track outcomes.

The Working Group has been assisting the Faith and Practice Revision Committee revise the history portion on BYM Quakers and enslavement based on research by the Working Group on Racism and other BYM Friends.

The Working Group maintains a list of Monthly Meeting liaisons who receive a monthly item for their newsletters or other means of dissemination. Active Monthly Meeting Working Groups on Racism exist at Langley Hill Friends Meeting, Baltimore area Friends Meetings (Stony Run, Homewood and Gunpowder) and Annapolis. The Working Group has kept apprised of some local Monthly Meeting issues involving race such as efforts to preserve the site of an African-American and a Quaker cemetery in Washington, DC and the annual celebration of Confederate War Heroes on Martin Luther King Day at a park near Baltimore Friends Meeting (Homewood). Working Group members offer to travel to local Meetings to conduct presentations on race issues, but very few such visits actually occur.

Communications beyond BYM
Members of the Working Group maintain contact with Friends in New England, New York, Philadelphia and Intermountain Yearly Meetings who are involved in racial justice work as well as with individual Friends around the country involved in that work.

Plans for the near future
For 2012 Annual Sessions we are planning two workshops on the Annual Sessions theme, of Spirit Led Social Action. One will focus on the life of Gordon Hirabayashi, a long-time member of University Friends Meeting of Seattle, who went to prison for refusing to obey an internment order during the Second World War. The other will based on Working Group member Pat Schenck’s recent Pendle Hill Pamphlet entitled Living our Testimony on Equality: A White Friend’s Experience. In a third workshop entitled What Is This Thing Called “Privilege”? And What Do We Do With It? Participants will help the Working Group test ideas for a plenary session being designed for the 2013 Annual Sessions.

The Working Group also plans to explore with Yearly Meeting staff how best to use the newly renovated BYM website to promote BYM Quaker discussions and discernment on racial issues as well involvement of the wider Quaker community through the existing Quakers and race dialogs on Facebook.com and QuakerQuaker.org.


2011 Annual Report

The 2010 BYM Annual Gathering. The 2010 gathering in Frostburg was a rewarding experience for the Working Group on Racism (WGR). The overall theme, Leading for Today; Lessons from History, reflected the work of, and suggestions from, the WGR, which had proposed the three main speakers. Tuesday evening’s talk was by Maurice Jackson, author of Let This Voice Be Heard: Anthony Benezet, Father of Atlantic Abolitionism. He described his motivations for choosing to research Benezet’s contributions and how Benezet’s work influences us today. The Wednesday afternoon plenary was led by Amanda Kemp, Quaker, playwright, theater troupe founder (Theatre for Transformation: Black History on Stage), and advocate for racial justice and equity. Her troupe performed Sister Friend, about enslaved (and later freed) poet Phillis Wheatley’s correspondence with an enslaved woman in Virginia; the troupe then led a riveting, hour-long Q&A. The WGR was pleased that we were able to sponsor this event, by raising the funds from within our ranks. This was an all-age gathering, with Young Friends participating in the Q&A. The Carey Memorial lecturer was New England Yearly Meeting Friend Betsy Cazden, speaking on “The Uses and Misuses of History,” especially as related to Quaker history with African-Americans.

Following up on the positive response to an activity at the dining hall entrance in 2009 (a quiz based on the book Fit for Freedom, Not for Friendship), we organized another activity this year. We invited Friends to “Ask a question about race that you have not had a chance to ask before, or to which you have not had a good answer.” Over 50 questions were placed in the box provided, and they were shared and discussed at an Interest Group on Friday. They are also available on the WGR blog at racism.bym-rsf.net>.

We had a rich shared meeting on the library porch with the Committee on Ministry and Pastoral Care, under whose care we serve. Just as we were concluding the joint session so each group could also pursue its own agenda, a double rainbow appeared. It lasted a long time. It took our breath away.

As in past years, we offered workshops at BYM. Jean-Marie Prestwidge Barch led Talking about Race, Age and Class, Elizabeth DuVerlie and Gail Thomas led Children Can Discriminate – This Can Be a Good Thing, and David Etheridge presented the results of his research with the workshop BYM Response to Slavery. David Etheridge also facilitated a discussion of the new video Teen Voices on White Privilege with Young Friends.

Within the Working Group on Racism. An ongoing part of our work is to support one another‘s growth in recognizing racism in our daily experience and in responding responsibly to it. At each of our meetings (monthly except December, July and August), we spend time on this personal sharing.

Communications within BYM. We have maintained our list of monthly meeting liaisons, and expanded it, to 49 contact persons, covering almost all Meetings, worship groups, and preparative and indulged Meetings within BYM. We send to these contacts, via email, a monthly item for their newsletters or for other means of dissemination. The purpose for doing this is to keep concerns about issues of race, racism and racial justice in the consciousness of all Friends, not just those who already feel committed to acting on these issues. In addition to the regular monthly items, we are instituting, starting in May 2011, occasional queries, so Friends who cannot attend our regular meetings or our special events can participate with each other and with us in reflecting on and responding to these issues.

With the able assistance of Jim Rose, the BYM webmaster, we established a website, (racism.bym-rsf.net), which also functions as a blog. Anyone can read it, while those who register (by emailing webmanager@bym-rsf.net) can submit comments. All monthly newsletter items now appear there, as well as many other documents of interest, and links to other Yearly Meetings’ working group or working parties dealing with racism and racial justice.

Young Friends has expressed interest in some collaboration with our Working Group. To date, that collaboration has been via the film showing and discussion in August. We hope for further collaboration with Young Friends.

Communications beyond BYM. The members of the WGR maintain regular contact with Friends in New England, New York and Philadelphia Yearly Meetings, where there are also organized groups working on racial justice. In addition, we maintain contact with Atlanta Monthly Meeting and Intermountain Yearly Meeting, and other individuals we have identified nationwide. We learn about each other’s activities. We share with the readers of this year’s report these sentences from NYYM’s Task Group on Racism: Racism is a difficult issue and it is easy to look the other way when it is not staring us in the face. Our task is to remind Friends that it is staring us in the face if we open our eyes.

International. MaryHelen (Mel) Snyder and Barbara (Babs) Williams, of Langley Hill Meeting’s working group on racism attended the Friends Women’s International Triennial Conference in Mombasa, Kenya during the summer of 2010, along with six other women from BYM. Mel and Babs followed this remarkable conference with a week of teaching at Friends Theological College in Kaimosi, Kenya.

We welcomed Friends Adrian Bishop, Paul Didisheim and Ellen Cronin to our group this year.

Active members: Adrian Bishop, Ellen Cronin, Jane Meleney Coe, Elizabeth DuVerlie, Paul Didisheim, David Etheridge, Carol Phelps, Pat Schenck, Maryhelen Snyder, Gail Thomas

Corresponding members (= were not able to attend meetings): Jean-Marie Prestwidge Barch, Rosalie Dance, Jeanne Houghton, Elizabeth Smith, Sharon Smith.

Elizabeth DuVerlie, (Baltimore Monthly Meeting, Stony Run), Clerk