Cloudy Skies for Friends General Conference — Part 1
Early in July, I was at the 2016 Gathering of Friends General Conference in Minnesota. And not long afterward, a Quaker I’ll call “Goodfriend” sent me an email, passing on a message from another, Friend, called here “Onequake.”
Chuck—I thought you might be interested in this email. It’s from a member of our Meeting . . . .Do you know anything about racial tensions at FGC?
Begin forwarded message:
From: Onequake Subject: FGC and race Date: July 11, 2016
This morning we attended [a Meeting far from home]. We heard that there were racial incidents at [the] FGC [Gathering in Minnesota early in July]. And that the area of MN chosen for the gathering is well-known for racial problems.
Also that last year there were people holding shotguns and confederate flags outside the grocery store in Cullowhee [NC – the town by Western Carolina U] during thec2015 Gathering. People of color felt very unwelcome and unsafe. And in California, PA [site of the 2014 FGC Gathering] we’re told there were incidents with security.
[At this Sunday’s meeting] a woman of color was collecting signatures on a petition asking for two things:
1. That the FGC site committee be majority people of color. 2. An internal racial audit of FGC systems.
Having never attended FGC I am at a loss about this and would like to hear from others who have attended this year or those years in Cullowhee or PA. MN surprised me, Cullowhee does not. Do others know about this? If so, why isn’t this a huge scandal among Friends? Have I missed all those discussions in every city I visit? The site committee seems to be only five people. Why wouldn’t FGC immediately appoint three people of color to that committee as a show of solidarity and good faith? Why is a petition necessary? It seems to be a no-brainer. I said to the woman who had the petition that if MN, PA and NC aren’t safe, it sounds like we have to leave the country to meet. She said there are plenty of safe places for people of color. If I meet her again, I will ask her where those places would be.
. . . I feel like I’m missing a lot of pieces from this puzzle. If anyone knows something about FGC and race, please give me your insight. Thank you.
If I could, I’d add another stone to the crowded cemetery rows here, bearing the name of Jimmie Lee Jackson. He was shot by an Alabama State Trooper in 1965, and died several days later.
The same trooper-shooter killed another unarmed young black man in 1966. Forty-five years later, under pressure from black state legislators, a prosecutor finally took up Jackson’s case. The story is summarized in this blog post. Jackson’s death, and the heedless racism that killed him, did not go unmarked or unanswered: it sparked the march from Selma to Montgomery, with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. & now-Rep. John Lewis at the head, which brought about passage of the Voting Rights Act.
The fabulous unique outdoor drama about Quakers & others joining enslaved people in their efforts to escape bondage in pre-Civil War North Carolina takes the stage for the premiere performance of its 22nd season tonight, July 7. Showtime is at 8 PM at the Snow Camp Drama ampitheatre in historic Snow Camp NC.
(If you can’t get there tonight, there are performances Friday and Saturday, then again on July 14-16, and six more after that before the limited run concludes on Saturday August 6.)
Spilling The Two Secrets I Know About Garrison Keillor
About now, I figure, Garrison Keillor has about wrapped up his last PHC show, at the Hollywood Bowl, the one the rest of us get to hear and blubber over tomorrow evening.
A friend of mine was at last week’s Tanglewood show, and texted that half an hour after it was off the air, the place was still going nuts and he was doing curtain calls & encores. Of course the rest of us didn’t get to hear that. I bet the same thing is going on now at the H-Bowl; wonder if it will make it to the website later.
The thought of all those encores just rubs in the separation anxiety. Makes me wonder if he’s letting it all hang out on this very last time. Maybe if he’s even telling those two secrets I know about him.
Well, to heck with wondering: I’ll tell them here, to all three of you who might pause to read them here . . . .
The political purpose behind the notorious North Carolina “Bathroom Bill” or HB2, has never been hard to figure out: it is carefully aimed to stir up sexual anxiety among many in the state’s Republican base, and thus to maximize turnout in this fall’s election.
A similar ploy, to put a ban on same sex marriage (which was already illegal) into the state constitution was tried in 2012. Silly alarmist rhetoric was rolled out, about churches being invaded and ministers jailed, and the ban passed. Though soon struck down in court, the maneuver worked quite well politically: very conservative candidates swept the North Carolina legislature.
This year, a new panic was ginned up over mythical hordes of hulking male predators scheming to masquerade as transgender women so they could invade bathrooms and assault “little girls”. The idea is absurd (& such assaults are already illegal) but could well maximize conservative turnout again, and cement the right’s power base here.
For that matter, HB2’s bathroom provision was a very effective cover for the law’s other, more substantive provisions, which did very real harm, by stripping the state’s cities and citizens of several other rights, including some unrelated to gender, but very much to do with advantages to some greedy corporate interests. Continue reading Carolina Quakers (A Few, at Least) Speak On HB2→
1969: Looking back, my own “formation” as a Quaker began under Morris Mitchell at Friends World College in 1966, and while it has never really ended, I can recognize a kind of novitiate that continued until 1975. And instead of one mentor, or “novice master,” I had several, some of which made a large impact in only brief encounters.
Autumn 1966: While at Friends World College, for one studytravel journey we piled into the school’s Volkswagen buses and headed for Vermont, to the farm of a friend of the Director named Bert. Bert had left the city to become an early back-to-the-lander; but he was no laid back hippie. His farm was well-organized and productive.
It was autumn, and we arrived well after dark. In the morning, I went outside, looked around, and reeled back in astonishment. I had never seen New England fall foliage before: the hillsides and even trees nearby all seemed alight with a kind of psychedelic aura that was almost audible, loud purple, operatic orange, roaring red and buzzing neon yellow, so overwhelming it seemed like it must surely be illegal. Continue reading From “Meetings” — Life, The Woods, & The Chainsaw→
Coming, up, national political conventions, Cleveland (Republican), Philadelphia (Democrat.)
This post is not about candidates, platforms, or horse race predictions. I’m thinking about convention security.
I’m no expert, but in 2012, I got a pretty good outsider’s glimpse of external convention security measures while spending several days in the neighborhood near the Democrats’ gathering in Charlotte NC. And I took some photos with my trusty Blackberry. I’m thinking that much of what I saw will likely apply, in spades, at the conventions this year, and so it’s worth passing them on. Continue reading Checking out “Convention-al” Wisdom→