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Reperations Working Group Annual Reports

The text of recently received Annual Reports 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.

2020 Report 2021 Report

2021 Reprations Working Group Annual Report

No report received.

2020 Reprations Working Group Annual Report

The Reparations Action Working Group (RAWG) has grown out of the Growing Diverse Leadership Committee to identify the harm that has been done to Black and Indigenous people over centuries. We desire to make the Yearly Meeting aware of our role in the larger system of institutionalized racism, and to push our community to engage in Reparative action. While education is an important component of this work, it is only the first step toward our overall goal to seek Reparations for African American and Native people. As we work toward our goal, we also engage in more modest reparative actions that will increase equity and support the protests following the murders of George Floyd and others, as well as the Movement for Black Lives.

RAWG started as an informal group in May of 2019 and became an official working group in March of 2020. It is our goal to seek Reparations for Black and Indigenous people. Please note that throughout this report, we use multiple terms to talk about groups of people; this is because not everyone who belongs to each identity uses the same terms, and we want to honor some of the most commonly used ways people describe themselves.

We spent most of our first year solidifying our group and building pathways toward racial justice action. We began on 13, May 2019, with a preliminary worship sharing facilitated by a STRIDE Member (Nikki Richards, no Meeting affiliation) and the then Clerks of PSC (Phil Caroom, Annapolis Friends Meeting), GDL (Peirce Hammond, Bethesda Friends Meeting), and WGR (David Etheridge, Friends Meeting of Washington). We asked friends three queries:

-          You chose to participate in this conversation. Why are reparations important to you as an individual?
-          Why is it important to you that BYM take on this issue as an institutional entity?
-          How might we begin?

At the close of the meeting, participants were asked if they were willing to commit to joining a group working to find a path toward Reparations. From those commitments grew the Reparations Action Group (RAG) core members. We have met monthly since. We spent the first few months organizing ourselves and planning a three-part workshop series which has since been postponed due to COVID.

On 8, February and 2, March of 2020, two separate groups of RAG core members met to discuss the strategy for our mission, facilitated by Clinton Pettus (Baltimore Monthly Meeting, Stony Run). Through this process we were able to focus and gain clarity on our common goals and understandings of what Reparations could look like and how we might move forward as a community. A report of these sessions is available upon request. Out of this process arose a series of recommendations we might make to the Yearly Meeting for how we can engage with Reparations for Black and Indigenous people. These recommendations will be available and discussed as an Advance Report during Annual Sessions.

In March, we finalized and presented a minute declaring that we are a working group. Our minute was sent out to the body of the Meeting and was acknowledged by the Supervisory Committee and the Yearly Meeting. Thus, RAG became RAWG, an official Working Group under the care of the Growing Diverse Leadership Committee.

Core members and Friends of RAWG have spent June engaging in actions of solidarity with the Movement for Black Lives and the worldwide protests for Racial Justice. We gathered supplies for protestors; participated in a Mutual Aid Network with The Tubman House of Baltimore; collaborated with our STRIDE Coordinator, Khalila Lomax, to create and distribute resources supporting Racial Justice actions; and drafted a letter with a call to action for all of BYM. While none of these actions were official group business, almost all core members participated in them in various ways. Thus, this has become the work of our group, informally. We remain committed to our ultimate goal of Reparations for African American and American Indian people.

The RAWG has not formally considered BYM’s Anti-racism queries as much as we should. Even so, we have emphasized within our group the importance of acting in line with these queries. We commit to reading them and considering them deeply, along with the principles we always consider, as we move forward. Our official documents and our actions have emphasized the importance of centering the voices and leadership of those most impacted by racial injustice. For us, that means Black people and Native people. We adhere to this guidance by always distributing resources created by African Americans and Indigenous People and by listening to the experiences of people who have been most impacted by oppression.

Throughout the year, the RAWG has created and collected resources to prompt action in BYM. For Thanksgiving we created a resource document for solidarity actions with Native people. For the holidays we created a list of ways to redistribute funds as Friends made spending choices. Most recently, we compiled lists for action regarding the Black Lives Matter protests and educational resources regarding Juneteenth, including lists of Black-owned businesses and literature written by African American authors. Our resources are now housed on a page on the Yearly Meeting website, under the “What we do” section, titled BYM Friends Commitments and Resources for Actions Supporting Racial Justice.

As we move into the summer and beyond, RAWG will continue to work together with GDL and STRIDE to expand our capacity for Mutual Aid and to strengthen our network of Anti-racist Friends. In collaboration with Khalila Lomax, the STRIDE Coordinator, and members of other working groups and committees, we will facilitate action in the BYM community. We will be sure not to lose sight of our ultimate goal: Reparations for African American and Indigenous people in both our community locally, and in the larger United States. As mentioned above, we will put forward a set of recommendations to BYM during Annual Sessions in the form of an Advance Report. We are asking friends to embrace our process for working with the Yearly Meeting to explore and understand these recommendations. The recommendations will center on action items that will move us closer to our goal of Reparations.

Moving forward, there will be more opportunities to engage. We spent much of the winter working with contractors to design a three-part series of workshops to engage the Yearly Meeting for further action. Unfortunately due to COVID we have postponed these workshops for the Fall. We encourage Friends to attend this three part series when dates are announced. Workshops may be virtual.

We welcome and encourage Friends to become more involved with us. There are two levels of involvement: Core Members, who attend all meetings and are involved in decision making, and Second Circle Friends, who receive resources and invitations for action and education opportunities. Second Circle Friends are kept in the know, while Core Members are expected to have a deeper level of commitment to the group and the work. All are welcome to join, though before choosing a level, we ask Friends to deeply consider their capacity and commitment to both outward facing and more personal, internal, Anti-racism work.

Since one of the main commitments of the Yearly Meeting is to be an Anti-racist faith community, our work relates directly to the life and soul of Baltimore Yearly Meeting. Reparations are central to Anti-racism and to dismantling systemic and institutional oppression. Reparative action is critical in creating a community that is spiritually well and whole. We consider Reparations to be essential to Anti-racism, and we are deeply committed to working together to help Baltimore Yearly Meeting continue on our Anti-racist path.

The RAWG recommends for each of us in the Yearly Meeting to consider: “How have I benefited from racist structures in society, and how can I repair the harms resulting from this unearned benefit?” This is the crux of our work and so we invite Friends to continue considering this query throughout this coming year.

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