During the Annual Sessions of the Wilmington Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, Friends approved the following statement:
Wilmington Yearly Meeting
Statement on Racial Justice
There is a gap between the ideals we profess and the realities we live. This is true of the Religious Society of Friends, which has from the beginning proclaimed that there is that of God in everyone, and it is true of the United States of America, founded with the declaration that “all men are created equal.”
In 2020, the gap between the reality of America’s behavior and the ideals expressed in its founding documents has become particularly stark. Through social media, we have watched in horror as a policeman casually squeezed the life out of George Floyd. What horriﬁes us most is that this is not an isolated incident but an extreme example of a pattern of behavior all too common.
We recognize that our system for maintaining order often harasses, demeans, and sometimes even kills, our own citizens. Because of the ubiquitous presence of cameras and social media, we are forced to be present when the unspeakable happens, and to see it with our own eyes.
Meanwhile, at the southern border, children were being separated from their parents and put in cages. Though the worst of these practices were curtailed by our courts, some border security oﬃcers continue to treat migrants with gratuitous cruelty and many children remain imprisoned, isolated from their parents.
Such behaviors by authorities have a common root, a root that reaches back to the time when keeping order meant keeping black and brown people in their place. Quakers have rejected this idea in principle and worked toward equal justice for all. However, we acknowledge that those of us who are white are the beneﬁciaries of a privilege not accorded to all Americans. Further, our personal behavior sometimes reveals implicit biases that conﬂict with our ideals and even contribute to the oppression of others.
We ﬁnd hope as our neighbors throughout the country reassess the symbols of oppression: the Confederate battle ﬂag, statues of Confederate generals, and racially insensitive team mascots. These symbolic acts must be followed up by concrete reforms of our institutions and by reforming our personal behavior to eliminate the sometimes thoughtless and insensitive habits acquired from our culture.
Members of Wilmington Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends pledge to work with renewed vigor toward compassion and equal justice for all.
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. — Micah 6:8
True Godliness does not turn [people] out of the world but enables them to live better in it and excites their endeavours to mend it. — William Penn
J.P. Lund, clerk
Wilmington Yearly Meeting