before i moved to san francisco, i lived in olympia, washington. i did americorps, and was active in a queer men’s group. in both of those organizations, i became active and vocal about race and general oppression issues. i organized an anti-oppression training for my americorps team because it looked like it wouldn’t happen otherwise (i had tons of help and had someone else come in to DO the training, but i was kind of “the squeaky wheel” that got it to actually happen), and started an anti-racism discussion group for the queer men’s group.

when i moved to san francisco, i was planning to continue on a similar path, but got busy with my various jobs, and just that whole job of acclimating. race in san francisco is different from race in olympia.

but in the past few weeks, i’ve started talking about it more, and particularly within the quaker meeting. i think it’s because it’s such a safe space for me, really, and because i have definitely done that whole “oblivious white liberal” thing my whole life, but then there’s the way that in a quaker context, i always have “soapbox or leading” questions. and it’s tricky.

there is a particular sorrow that comes from critiquing someone’s beloved project when they don’t expect it– and i’ve done that in the past month. and there is a particular joy in having someone else bring up issues that they’ve been struggling with and to just say, “yes, yes, thank you, yes, i am so glad i am not alone”– and i’ve done that in the past month.

i made a comment at the thursday night study group a couple of weeks ago about race and how it’s not hugely better than it was 50 years ago. which is just as simplistic as saying that it is, and… i wasn’t there. how do i know? and it’s just from gobbling down theory by people that i believe “know.”

and then this past week, we read about someone (not actually john woolman, though we talked about how he said similar things) who said that the effects of slavery on slaveholders was worse than on slaves. which made me go, (inside my head) “DUDE!? SERIOUSLY!?” because it feels a little gross. because while someone might be corrupted and that can be infinitely terrible in a way that is different from bodily suffering, i don’t think the two things can be compared. and any attempt comes out all wrong. (just like my 2007 statement about 1957 race relations.) but it got me thinking anyway about how that mindset is still here. white supremacy/privilege is all-pervasive still, and the thing that i think is worse is that it’s not as recognizable. “i DON’T think of myself as better than these people, OF COURSE, and yet, i am stomping all over them, but i don’t know it. and don’t tell me or else i’ll get defensive.” and that’s pretty corrupt.

also at this past thursday night study group, someone spoke about some ideas he’s had for how to get more people to come to our meeting. he had a great metaphor about how we are a beacon on a hill, but the path is completely obscured. which is true. and his ideas were really good, too.

but my immediate thought was of fear at our capacity for welcome.

i’ve felt really welcomed and loved at this meeting, and i’ve loved that, but there are moments where i just feel like it means that i am easily palatable.

and today at meeting i really thought i was supposed to say something. but i instead chose to sit with questions about where that feeling was coming from. it seemed to easy to say what i felt like i should say, and too other-critical and outward. but what i was going to say was a query:

are we prepared for what we want? can we be? we are welcoming, but are we ready to welcome strangers, strangers who remind us that before they came we were actually not perfect?

… which is a good question for me in all sorts of ways when i change the “we”s to “me”s, and i will sit with it myself, but i really need to start having more conversations about this community i’ve become a part of, and the way we all deal with privilege.

(i think what really got me started was this post about racism and christianity and how linked they are…)


i read the religion of jesus the jew at a recommendation of chris m. about my questions about where judaism and christianity meet, and i have to say that 95% of it was boring, hard to read, and not at all what i was looking for, but the other 5% was spot on and perfect and interest and answered a lot of questions…

and it also got me thinking about jesus’ religion as a religion of end times… and the way things sure as heck feel like they’re ending these days… that whole “we’re either going to blow ourselves up or just destroy the world with our decadence” thing…

i haven’t gone much further than that, but it’s been interesting.


in terms of my news that’s not happening just in my head… at today’s business meeting, they read my membership letter that i wrote on september 18 (366 days after i started coming to meeting. my rough drafts were written the day before). eep!

and i’ve not been blogging due to the lack of my own computer, but charles martin brought me his old computer, and once i actually get a wireless card for it, i’ll be around more.

Published in: on 14 October, 2007 at 9:18 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. “in terms of my news that’s not happening just in my head”

    That is awesome cubbie! That is hwo I should start every sentence.

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