White Quakers Confronting White Privilege

All White people benefit from systems of oppression and exploitation simply by living in a culture created in their favor. We spoke with several White Quakers about what it means to acknowledge their privilege, and how that awareness informs their efforts to live in a way that fully honors that of God in all of us.

As Tom Hoopes says, “For Quakers in the early 21st century, to take on this challenge is unbelievably difficult, heartbreaking on a daily basis, and exactly what we need to be doing.”

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11 thoughts on “White Quakers Confronting White Privilege

  1. I did not get much out of this – we need to confront and work on white privilege — ok, how, some examples of “working on” . . . ? not the best of the series. . . but good topic. Maybe can revisit with more proactive examples of what we can do. By now many Friends know there is white privilege. . . time to move on to the next phase. But thanks for taking this on.

  2. We must get past the emphasis on pathology and onto the sameness between people. The acknowledgement that African Americans,in particular, have added so much to our culture,style and the way we use language for example. We must work toward espousing our multi-ethnic culture by sharing positive experiences with like minded people of other races. It does no good to go around feeling guilty. Invite an African American friend to a meeting. Share pizza, Chinese, and soul food with him/her. Celebrate what it means to be an American with all its good components. There are plenty of African Americans out there that want to be looked upon as individuals,not just representatives of an oppressed group. Let Go and Let God.

  3. I did like it. We all need a kick. I’m Mexican-Cuban with light skin. Adopted by a step-father, I have a “white” last name. The were no Latino last names in my honors classes. There were no Latino last names at my college. Only as an adult did I start to see what privileges I had. Still processing.

  4. A perspective from a Non-Theist Quaker:
    A humanistic Quaker
    I’m a humanistic Quaker, I’ve decided. The distinction between the noun ‘humanist’ and adjective ‘humanistic’ is significant … it signifies a tendency and mode of expression rather than an ideology.
    I see a humanistic understanding as central to the true spirit of Quakerism, for two reasons: First, ‘humanistic’ expresses the focus of ‘that of god IN everyone’. Just as Quaker Buddhists might talk of Buddha nature potential in everyone, so Quaker Christians might talk of Jesus’ spirit potential in everyone.
    Early Quakers operated within the limits of the understanding and blasphemy laws of their time, but ‘the spirit within’ is what they felt. Second, ‘humanistic’ expresses the focus on Earthly matters, via the Quakerly virtues of standing firm in support of those who are suffering, speaking truth as we see it, nurturing that of god in everyone as we understand it, and doing what we can to help make a better world. If our spirituality has any value, it will lead us to respond to the global situation at this time of global need, to embrace the spirit of activism and need for global healing, to work together nontribally. ‘Hands that serve are worth more than lips that pray’. That is the humanistic commitment…to humanity. I want some way to make that commitment clear. But is it possible to be a humanistic theist? I would argue yes…if one’s notion of god is not as a supernatural being, for example if one were taken by the Chinese notion of heaven, populated not by god but by heavenly virtues we can respond to, and source of the ‘laws of nature’. Similarly, one might be a humanistic Christian while denying the existence of an historical Jesus…taking Jesus as a symbol of a universal spirit found in all peoples (‘…in everyone’). In fact the essence, divested of the person, is a far more useful concept I’d argue. More suited to the present day. Similarly with Buddhism, one can see Buddha as a composite of various teachers’ teachings. The person is a symbol, sometimes helpful, but sometimes not. Following this line of thought, I wonder whether we ‘nontheists’ should consider a name change to ‘humanistic’. I think it might be beneficial, not just for our small group but for the RSoF as a whole. Few Quakers worship a supernatural being these days. It’s a much more nuanced and variable activity space…a space between two modes of thinking/expression that needs exploring. The nontheist/theist distinction creates a yesno division that is unhelpful to interaction, and thereby alienates potential supporters as well as alienating ourselves from interaction too. So I’m keen to know whether there’s any support for the idea. Piers Maddox The aim of the Nontheist Friends Network is to provide a forum and supportive framework for Friends who regard religion as a human creation. We want to ensure that our Religious Society of Friends is an inclusive rather than an exclusive Society. We seek to explore theological and spiritual diversity and their practical implications, in respectful acceptance of different views, experiences and journey

  5. The Rev Martin Luther King said (I don’t remember the exact words but here is my interpretation of the message): He looked forward to the day when we did not judge each other by the color of our skin but by the character of our hearts. Let’s look to what we have in common rather than how we are different.

  6. Quakers are Christians. We believe in God. Our lives are based on our personal relationship with God. We serve God by serving all of God’s children, but we ourselves are The Religious Society of Friends.
    All are welcome to join us in worship, but please, do not attempt to turn our Religious Society into a secular organization. There are plenty of clubs and societies for that. We are Christians. Please honor and respect our Testaments and Practices within our Religious Society of Friends.

  7. I am a White man.All but one of the remarks was a mashupnmix of word salad signifying an annoyance that the issue was even brought.

    In 2020 what do you expect from us White Quakers?

    A lot more. Settle into stillness and maybe you’ll get the answer.

  8. This is my favorite Quaker Speak video so far. At 77, I’ve been a Quaker for about 35 years, and I’m grateful both for those 35 years of experience, and for the root value and practice of questioning and querying that Quakers have validated in my life.
    Looking at the intersection of white privilege and Quaker simplicity confronts root issues that have troubled me since childhood, and the voices in this video clarify my understanding and encourage my efforts. The lies perhaps told in good faith in my childhood are integral to the changes I want to live going forward.
    First recognize the lies, next see the damage they caused and are causing, finally see a clear road forward. I can’t live any life but my own, but I can address the impact of my ill-informed choices.

  9. I am disappointed by the fact that this provided no new messaging on how to confront White Privilege.

    I am disappointed that no perspective from POC Friends was offered, eventhough the issue around the difficultiws of including these perspectives at meetings for business was highlighted by one of the participants.

    I would appreciate Quaker Speak taking on the much more difficult topic of how Quakers dismantle institutionalized racism within each meeting today.

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