Report on an MVHC Social Action meeting on Racism – Wednesday, July 20, 2016 A dozen members of the congregation gathered in the H. B. Freedberg Learning Center (the Social Hall) on a beautiful day to talk about the resurgence of racial violence in our country. Convened by the Social Action Committee and facilitated by Joy Robinson-Lynch, we explored how the Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center might contribute a Jewish perspective on the situation. Each of us talked about our own individual experiences with white privilege-- the advantages that we, as whites, gain just because of our skin color. This was emotionally wrenching for many of us. More difficult intellectually was understanding how white privilege and racism suffuse our schools, workplaces, courts, media, and other institutions by automatically giving greater advantages to whites over non-whites. Such inequalities are legitimated and taken for granted in institutional racism. When such racism is baked into our systems of power and our systems of thought, we have the most profound and destructive form called structural racism. The group then engaged in a wide-ranging discussion of what we, as Jews, can bring to the discussions and actions taking place across the country. We were especially concerned about working with the island, starting first with our congregation and other island congregations and moving outward to the NAACP, our longtime collaborator, and to the Black Lives Matter movement. Other creative ideas came up. Now we need your ideas and look forward to seeing you at our second meeting on Wednesday, August 3 at 5:30 in the Learning Center.
Report on the Racial Justice Project December 8, 2016
This group was formed in July by the Social Action Committee in response to the ongoing deaths of people of color at the hands of police. Beginning with discussions of how the Center could respond and deepening to what it means to be an ally and how institutions often continue racist practices without consciously planning to do harm.
The Project members decided that it is the obligation of those who benefit from these practices to renounce them. Many programs and activities were suggested and the group’s response is “yes.” They want to have ongoing programs, activities, workshops and more. “ Let’s do it all, regularly and deeply.”
An abbreviated list of ideas included:
Activities that engage the congregation in reflection on our own institution’s ways of operating and unspoken culture
Start with us – MVHC – how?
Bring in a facilitator to examine our role in eliminating racism
Bring in a group that works with communities to undo institutional racism – adopt principles
MVHC self-reflection / Race Audit – start with us – model it
Consultants? – group of members?
Book Group - “Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People”
Create Summer of 2017 cultural activities
Monthly race conversations
A group that looks within our own community
Jewish Multiracial Network resources
Expand our sense of what Jewish is
Activities in support of actions undertaken by Black-led groups
Let congregation know about events on-island that Black-led groups are hosting
Engage with Showing Up For Racial Justice a national network of groups and individuals organizing White people for racial justice.
MVHC book group on race ( Ta-Nahesi Coates Between the World and Me or The Case for Reparations)
Head of NAACP do a program here
Programs in the religious school
MVHC defends concept of Black Lives Matter – ask BLM people? – banner?
Work with police –
Education about police
Reach out to other (Jewish) institutions to see what is already being done
Activities already undertaken
Listing activities addressing racial justice in the e-blast.
In August, the Slave Project Choir was part of a Friday service. It was well received and plans are underway to expand the program this summer.
At High Holiday services the Rabbi Broitman offered a mi shaberach for the committee and its work. This generated interest in membership.
A request was made to the board to have a rainbow flag fly in front of the Center. A banner is being purchased.
Members are working with Daniel Schaefer on the annual Martin Luther King/ Abraham Joshua Heschel service.
Future projects being considered are congregational presentations including:
Facilitation by Tim Wise, the author of White Like Me
Abigail Ortiz who teaches of the health impact of racism
Yavilah McCoy, founder of Ayecha, a nonprofit organization providing educational resources for Jewish Diversity and advocacy for Jews of Color
Jews for Black Lives Matter
All members of the congregation are invited to attend the meetings. The next one is February 1 at 5:45 PM.