Queries from “Our Role As Individuals In America’s Racial History” (ORAIIARH)

Revised 2009

As we move toward becoming a more welcoming multicultural, multiracial Meeting, we want to take active steps toward eliminating institutional racism that has historically prevented certain racial/ethnic groups from full participation in Friends Meetings in the United States. As a way of living up to our beliefs and reaching our goal of an inclusive community, we continue to ask groups and committees with the Meeting to regularly reflect on a set of queries in order to be more intentional about processes and practices that work to eliminate institutional racism and foster a welcoming multicultural, multiracial community within the Meeting.  

I.  Committees and Volunteers:  a. How are members of the committee/volunteers recruited? Are all
attenders/members of the meeting given ample opportunity to know about the
work, to sign up, or to be asked to work on the group?

b. Are attenders/members who are people of color asked to join the committee as well as
white attenders/members? Do we avoid tokenism by approaching people of color to join
committees based on their interests or skills?

c. Do we avoid stereotypes when asking for or assigning volunteers to jobs traditionally
associated with low status work, such as potluck cleanup or childcare?

d. Do committee members genuinely listen to and validate viewpoints of members whose racial or
cultural backgrounds are different from their own? Can people of color on this committee feel that
white members really hear them?  For example, does a suggestion made by an African American
F/friend carry the same weight as a similar one made by a European American F/friend?

e. If the committee is homogeneous racially and culturally, do committee members stop and think
about how the matter at hand would be viewed from a different cultural and racial perspective?  

f.  Are committee members who are people of color given the same chance to speak as whites, and
encouraged to participate without being put on the spot or made to be a racial spokesperson? For
example, do we avoid putting African American F/friends in the position of speaking for all people
of African descent?

g.  Are all members of a committee allowed to express themselves as individuals without having
judgments made about their racial group? For instance, are African American members given the
same chance as others on the committee to be silent, talkative, serious, funny, early, late, organized
or disorganized without assumptions being made about their racial group?

h. Within a framework of the Quaker manner of conducting business – opening and closing with
silence and using a sense of the meeting for decisions – are various styles of participation and
orientation accepted and welcomed, not just the solely task-oriented, strictly time conscious model
typically associated with white males?

i. If the work of the committee involves working with groups outside the Meeting, do we choose
groups composed of people of color or well-integrated groups to work with? Do we treat these
groups as equal partners and respect their leadership?

j. Are issues in communities of color given importance in selecting social issues to work on? For
example, do we actively work to correct unequal treatment of African Americans in the justice
system, education, and healthcare?

k. Do we turn to African heritage/African American groups for their expertise when the Meeting
wants to become involved in issues related to Black communities?

l. Do we form long-term alliances with faith communities or social justice groups composed
primarily of people of color rather than limiting our participation to an occasional potluck,
workday, or monetary contribution?

II. Greeters/ Welcoming newcomers: a. Are greeters equally welcoming to all newcomers, regardless of race? Are people of color
who are newcomers sincerely welcomed rather than being fussed over or ignored?

 b. Do greeters adopt and consistently use a standard procedure for everyone coming in the
door, for example, saying to everyone, “Welcome. Please either pick up a nametag or make
one for yourself”?

c. Do greeters avoid questions that may be interpreted negatively by people of color? For
example, “May I help you?” or “How did you get involved in Quakerism?” may sound
unwelcoming to African Americans because these questions imply that the person is a
stranger to Friends and/or to our Meeting when neither may be the case.

d. Do greeters avoid the assumption that people of color are new to Atlanta Friends Meeting,
to Quakerism or to Quaker testimonies?

III. Materials (for example for library, religious education, study group): a. Are writers of color, including African Americans, well represented?

b. Do materials and activities used in Religious Education and adult study groups draw from
a broad range of racial and cultural backgrounds?

c.  Are positive, realistic views of people of color, including people of African descent, presented?

d. Are current concerns of people from varying racial/ethnic groups included in the
curriculum/program in addition to historical concerns? For example, are concerns about
institutional racism or disparities in health as experienced by people of African descent
included in addition to slavery or segregation/civil rights issues?

e. Is the whole history of Friends and people of African descent made known, rather than just
the positive aspects? For instance, do materials indicate that many Friends enslaved African
Americans during the 1700s or  that  Friends Meetings were very slow to admit Friends of
African descent to membership and that their membership numbers are low even today?

f.  Is sufficient material on Friends of color such as Paul Cuffee, Sarah Mapps Douglas, or
Bayard Rustin included in the study of Quaker history?     

g.  Are materials available that accurately represent African, Latin American, and Asian
Friends today?  Do the materials make it clear that there are more Friends in Africa than on
any other continent?  

h. Are the materials respectful of Friends United Meeting and Evangelical Friends traditions
as practiced by most Friends in Africa, Latin America and Asia?

i. Are illustrations, photos, movies, and music free of stereotypes? Are materials available
that counter stereotypes with facts about people of color? Are developmentally appropriate
opportunities made available for children and youth to discuss stereotypes of people in
non-dominant cultures?  

j. Are people of color including people of African descent portrayed in a variety of roles
and settings?

k. Do pictures represent realistic facial features of African Americans and other people of
color, rather than looking like colored- in white people?

l. Are children and adults of many racial/ethnic and national groups well represented
pictorially? Are artifacts in the classroom representative of a variety of racial/ethnic
cultures and national groups?

m. Do children’s books, dolls, puppets, and other toys accurately portray children and
adults from a variety of racial and ethnic groups? For instance, do children’s materials
showing a broad range of families include families with African American men as good
fathers and husbands? Do children’s stories avoid the pitfall of always having European
American children in a leader or helper role with a child of color in the sidekick or
victim role?

n. In choosing DVDs or movies for group activities (for example Young Friends gatherings),
do we choose movies/DVDs that portray people of color in a positive light, for example,
DVD’s/movies that portray strong African American families?

o. Are movies that have a strong emotional impact, such as “Amistad,” discussed in a way
that is sensitive to the strong feelings evoked?

p. If there are racist elements in a movie, such as all the villains having dark-skin or foreign
accents, are they discussed critically?

IV. Outings (Young Friends, hiking group, restaurant /movies/ theater outings)

a. Is care taken to choose outing destinations that are integrated and welcoming to people of color?

b. Are venues of varying racial groups chosen for outings; for example, going to an African American
film festival or an event at a historically black college/university?

c. Are white people in the group alert to discriminatory treatment toward people of color, and are
steps taken to prevent or intervene against such treatment? (Examples of discrimination: The person
of color might be treated as if he/she were separate from the rest of the group, be followed, watched
carefully, or given inferior service.)

d. Do white people in the group validate the feelings of fear or anger expressed by people of color in
situations where they have experienced discriminatory treatment rather than whites treating these
feelings lightly or ignoring them?