I doubt there are more Friends interested in books than in equality. Diversity is a difficult topic to discuss and people are easily misunderstood, especially when trying to communicate using online forums.
I am not as convinced as Rsquared. I think it depends on what you mean by "interested." I don't mean in a semantic way but rather in an experiential(?) way. When equality or diversity are mentioned, I suspect many Friends assume that there isn't much to discuss because everyone knows that Friends believe in equality and diversity. Just look at how equal we treat religious beliefs and how diverse the beliefs are that are held by Friends. When it comes to books, there are always new books being written and published about equality, diversity, other "testimonies, et. al. and we can "see" these beliefs.
However, "seeing" these beliefs through books doesn't address the reality of the inequality within our Society as well as the larger society. To actually experience the inequality that does exist requires openness and an honest examination of ourselves personally and as a group. I find that such examination is not easy for many Friends. Reading about is much easier than doing something about or truly examining a topic. Reading can be and often is a first step of a thorough examination but rather it tends to be the "first AND last" step in looking at an issue.
I assume we feel stuck about what to do, and it's an important topic. Books are much more straightforward. read, discuss. Few people are going to be terribly hurt by any opinion you might have. And equality is so darn slippery. What do we want? for people not to be forcibly excluded from meetings? for everyone to feel entirely at home? for sameness? It's way way way complicated. Not that it's not worth discussing, but it's daunting, no?
I think people are uncomfortable to confront issues of prejudice, particularly their own biases and prejudices. Some would rather think that it's something you hear about on the news in other places where you simply say, "What a shame", but you don't with the hypocrisies in your own life.
I think I asked the wrong question. It really does confuse me that there are a number of groups here on QQ that have more members than this one.
I know conversations about diversity are hard. I wonder about figuring out how to witness to this testimony of equality that we have, rather than discussing and arguing about stuff. What if we weren't focused on equality or theory or discrimination and instead focused on the stuff we are DOING to show the world that we do care about this topic.
Maybe the topic title needs to change. Or another one needs to be added. Like "Giving Witness to Equality".
I think it's about not wanting to recognize how viciously this nation is treating anyone who isn't privileged, about not wanting to recognize how precarious that privileged status is, about not having the power to make the kind of social peace people like to imagine we have.
My Meeting is as friendly with black or poor visitors as with any others-- but we don't get many. When a member proposed giving help to people in danger of deportation, we quickly recognized this as 'precisely the sort of thing we're supposed to stand for.' No one has any intention of treating anybody badly; they're generally delighted at opportunities to help poor people in a small way.
But recognizing the pervasive injustice around them would depress them as much as it depresses me!
We're glad that the overt segregation of the early 20th Century is ended; but we don't like to think about how much is still the same.
Poor Friends and attenders have been almost brought to despair by encountering the ignorance of comfortable members. It's not "prejudice against ___;" it's assumptions about the nature of our society and how it works and how it impacts people; it's that damnable comfort itself!
are we doing anything to show the world that we care about this topic? I mean, sure, we could probably come up with something, but short of the few people who really despise equality in all its forms, most people could come up with something.
I'm interested in Forrest's point about people facing deportation. I think that's a great example. It's so obvious that we should be actively involved in that struggle as a community, but are we? did his community become so? will mine now that I've thought of it?
What's more, there's the immediate threat of deportation, a very real problem for very real people, and there's the much larger question of politics and economics. Many of those people would probably rather not be here anyway, if conditions in their home countries were something they could live with (barriers being everything from death squads to US corn subsidies destroying Mexican corn growers)
Which of course is true of any sort of equality. There's not judging people because they talk in a way that doesn't sound "educated", there's busting your butt to improve access to decent education, and there's rethinking what we think "educated" should sound like anyway.
Lastly, I sort of cringe at the thought of doing things to show that we care about X. On a quaker list about a year ago, a man asked what he could do to convince women he was an ally. My best response was, quit worrying about convincing us of anything and start worrying about the fact that rape still happens (a lot!) and/or unequal pay, or any number of other things.
Certainly listening to people of color about racism and women about sexism is important and even central at the same time, if making them like you is more important than tearing down barriers to their freedom and wholeness, I think it's a losing battle, just my opinion
should have probably said all our freedom and wholeness. Another hard thing for me to figure - racism hurts white people, sexism hurts men, - that's important. I want men to be feminists because they can't stand living in a sexist world. At the same time, I want it acknowledged that my burden as regards sexism is in many/most ways a lot worse than theirs.
this may be one place where we disagree. I don't think our witness is a lot different on any of these topics. I think, at least as a community, we are not pushing the envelope on any of these. We generally hold what we feel to be the "right" positions, but beyond that? perhaps more of us are likely to show up at a peace rally than at a similarly mainstream, similarly convenient anti-racism rally, but I'm not sure (I went to a protest the day of the Oscar Grant verdict, there were no other quakers there. But then there werent' a lot of white people (and almost all the local quakers I know are white people) overall (I mean about half, which in MN is skewed for sure) - we didnt' have a permit, it was thrown together qucikly, etc.
I think that if there was some equivalent of buying a prius to show we cared about equality, we'd be all over it. I think the problem is that most of the work around equality is messier and harder, more like giving up driving entirely
Jeanne - I was just looking at my home page or whatever it is, and this group has exactly the same number of people as Quaker Vegetarians. Less than half as many as "quaker earthcare"
In my cynical moments I think maybe a lot fewer people are interested in taking a hard look at the impacts their decisions have on other actual living beings, and are much more drawn to vague notions where there is no one you will ever under any circumstances have to look in the eye know that you failed them.
I woke up this morning with a new thought. (I too easily slip into cynicism).
I'm going to start posting in this forum things I'm thinking about and doing and the things that are keeping me from doing the things I'm thinking about.
I saw this amazing video on facebook a few days ago where a network tv show staged an African American woman (in one instanced dressed well and in another dressed "down") in an upscale store being followed and accused of theft. In most of the instances, the other white shoppers said nothing. In several, other African Americans said something and walked out. And at the end, they showed one white person confronting the store manager and security, putting her arm around the African American woman and walking her out the store. An amazing thing happened in that one--almost everyone followed the pair out of the store.
When I reposted the video on facebook, everyone commented on how horrible the video was. I didn't see the horror. I saw the action of one ally, and what that did for other people who clearly WANTED to be an ally but didn't want to do so alone.
I want to be THAT person who does something so that people who are otherwise afraid can follow.
Did you know that QuakerQuaker is 100% reader supported? Our costs run to about $50/month. If you think this kind of outreach and conversation is important, please support it with a monthly subscription or one-time gift.