Standing together against racism
Quakers across Britain are appalled by the violent death of George Floyd in Minnesota and the protesters around the United States being treated violently by the authorities. In a letter of solidarity they say root causes of those events also manifest themselves in the UK.
The letter says: “We have been inspired by Quaker communities in the United States who are taking a stand against racism and white supremacy. We hold in the Light those who are working for change at this difficult time, and stand with you against racism in all its forms."
The letter was sent to Robin Mohr in Philadelphia, via Friends World Committee for Consultation, for Section of the Americas. The full text follows:
“Greetings from Friends in Britain Yearly Meeting. We write to you to uphold you as you respond to events in your country. Their root causes also manifest themselves here in the UK, and we too seek to respond in our own context. We are heartened by the emphasis that Friends World Committee for Consultation ( FWCC) globally has placed on historical injustice and inequality, and on the need for a fairer, more peaceful and sustainable world. May Friends worldwide support and learn from each other.
“In 1952, Yearly Meeting in London minuted:
'The roots of racial prejudice lie deep within us, and in seeking a solution to the evil results of racial tensions we need to search our own hearts. Our belief in the significance of every individual in the sight of God and their need for an abundant life can guide us even when we shrink before the vastness of the problem.'
“Quakers in Britain have been following the news with horror. We have seen images of the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minnesota. We have watched protesters across the USA treated violently by the authorities. We have seen widespread protests here. We have been shocked too by the high level of deaths amongst Black and Minority Ethnic people in the UK during the coronavirus pandemic, and the stories of discrimination they tell.
The roots of racial prejudice lie deep within us, and in seeking a solution to the evil results of racial tensions we need to search our own hearts- 1952 Yearly Meeting in London
“It is fundamental to the Quaker faith that every person is equal in the Spirit, and our hearts are distressed whenever this is denied.
“In recent years, Quakers in Britain have again set out on a shared journey to recognise, understand and address our privilege. We committed to this exploration at in 2017, and in 2019 our Yearly Meeting focused on an examination of our privilege and assumptions of privilege. We were looking forward to further exploration at our Yearly Meeting Gathering this year, but our plans have had to be postponed. It's not easy to know what we can do individually or collectively about these injustices from our homes.
“We have been inspired by Quaker communities in the USA who are taking a stand against racism and white supremacy. We hold in the Light those who are working for change at this difficult time, and stand with you against racism in all its forms.
“Merely to express solidarity is not enough. We are working to understand and acknowledge how our own lives benefit from systemic racism. We see people in Europe living in poverty, working to supply us with food. Our government detains immigrants in appalling conditions, to 'protect our borders'. People around the world are dying because we use too much carbon. We know we need to learn how to be less defensive. We need to understand and demonstrate – and not simply say – that Black Lives Matter.
“We continue to pray; to learn; to support Quaker and other groups working for justice; to remind ourselves of the commitments we have already made; and to seek ways to act, however small.
“May we all learn from and support each other's work
“Sent to you with our loving greetings.
The letter was signed by Ann Floyd, clerk to Quaker World Relations Committee for BYM and by Paul Parker, Recording Clerk for Britain Yearly Meeting (the formal title for Quakers in Britain)