Summer 2020 Learning Series

At Friendship we are committed to inclusion and antiracism. We are in this for the long haul and we know we’ve got work to do. So let’s learn together! In June, we began with LGBTQIA+ Justice, particularly Trans Justice and then moving into July into antiracism training and discussion. In August we circled back to learning and discussing how to center the disability community, particularly as we plan for a new space.

Inclusive community means deepening our understanding of one another’s experiences and it’s important to develop a common vocabulary as we engage the stories and experiences of LGBTQIA+ folks, BIPOC, and disabled folks.

LGBTQIA+ Learning Series

Connecting the Dots: Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation
This 2-part series gives a baseline for language and terminology that will help viewers deepen their understanding of not only their own gender identity and sexuality but on how to show up for LGBTQIA+ folks in their community fresh ways to discuss gender identity and sexual orientation that look for commonalities, rather than categories.
Click here for Part 1 / Password: Learn-LGBTQIA-1A
Click here for Part 2 / Password: Learn-LGBTQIA-1A

Trans Justice
We will move even deeper into inclusion and consider the work of Trans Justice and explore Trans Theology. We will dive into the rich Biblical foundation for trans inclusion and explore how churches have made worship more welcoming. Participants will walk away with tools and tactics to make their church spaces more intentionally inclusive and celebrative of trans identities. 
More Light Presbyterian Teach-in: Theology of Trans Inclusion – MLP Video
And for a great story, listen to: Jess Cook’s TED Talk

Trans Theology and Intersectional Identities
This week we will dig into how Trans identities are diverse and intersect with our other identities. J Mase III (who we heard from in worship during the prayer for peace last week) tells more of their multi faith family’s story and examines the intersections of gender and race and the reality of racism and oppression experienced at this intersection in this TEDx. 
Watch: J Mase III’s  TEDx Talk
J Mase III describes how his Trans Black theology emerged from Liberation Theology in this beautiful essay. This intersection is so important as we weave our work of LGBTQIA+ together with our commitments to antiracism.
Read: J Mase III Casting Prayers for Survival: Towards a Black Trans Theology

Ways to get involved now!

Check back soon for more information!

Racial Justice Learning Series

Racial Justice: Learning Our History
“The beauty of anti-racism is that you don’t have to pretend to be free of racism to be an anti-racist. Anti-racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including in yourself. And it’s the only way forward.” – Ijeoma Oluo

This week we will begin digging deeper into racial justice and learning together what it means to be an antiracist community and organization. We will begin these first two weeks by gathering historical information and context by reading essays from the 1619 Project. The 1619 Project is an ongoing initiative from The New York Times Magazine that began in August 2019, the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.
Read more about The 1619 Project.
This week our discussion will focus on the essay that begins on page 14 by By Nikole Hannah-Jones. If you have an New York Times account you can access the whole project online here. If not there is a free PDF download here. You can print selected pages or the whole thing using this PDF or you can read it on your device. If you would like a hard copy of the essays we will discuss please email Pastor Shawna and she can send them to you.
Learn more about the 1619 Project:Listen to an interview with Nikole Hannah-Jones who “is the mind behind the project” on NPR here. As well as this episode of Code Switch, which explores who the first enslaved Africans that were brought to Jamestown might have been.

Racial Justice: Continuing to Learn Our History
“The enslaved were not bricks in your road, and their lives were not chapters in your redemptive history. They were people turned to fuel for the American machine.” 
Ta-Nehisi Coates


This week we will continue to dig deeper into racial justice and learning together what it means to be an antiracist community and organization. We will continue by gathering historical information and context by reading essays from the 1619 Project. The 1619 Project is an ongoing initiative from The New York Times Magazine that began in August 2019, the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.
Read more about The 1619 Project.
This week our discussion will focus on the essay that begins on page 20 Chained Migration:
How Slavery Made Its Way West By Tiya Miles. If you have an New York Times account you can access the whole project online here. If not there is a free PDF download here. You can print selected pages or the whole thing using this PDF or you can read it on your device. If you would like a hard copy of the essays we will discuss please email Pastor Shawna and she can send them to you.
If you didn’t get a chance last week, learn more about the 1619 Project: Listen to an interview with Nikole Hannah-Jones who “is the mind behind the project” on NPR here. As well as this episode of Code Switch, which explores who the first enslaved Africans that were brought to Jamestown might have been.

Racial Justice: Introduction to Antiracism
“The truth of the gospel is always offensive and unpopular because it expresses solidarity with the powerless and those on the margins.”
Dr. James H. Cone 


We’re living into our Inclusive Identity this week and we’re digging into what it means to be an antiracist organization. The video and other materials for this week will help us build a common language and vocabulary to enable us to do antiracism work. We will learn the definitions of racism and white supremacy and  discuss the ways in which white supremacy shows up in our everyday contexts including church. And we will connect the ways in which race and gender are linked, and why it is essential that conversations about gender are also conversations about racism.
Whew! I know it sounds like a lot, but we will be spending all of July and part of August working our way through these conversations. It is not our goal to find all the answers but to learn tools that will help us move toward antiracism, transformation and greater inclusion for years to come. 
Here is the link to our More Light Teach: Racial Justice Part 1. You will need this password to access it: RaceJust1
If you have an extra 12 minutes and are a Stephen Colbert (The Late Show) fan check out his take on how systemic racism continues to plague the United States on his June 2 show from home.
Even Stephen Colbert has working analysis about white supremacy.
And for some historical context and the PCUSA’s engagement with antiracism read this Repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery crafted and released at our 223 General Assembly two years ago. PCUSA Statement/Confession/Repudiation of Doctrine of Discovery (at 223 General Assembly 2018)

Racial Justice: Antiracism & White Fragility
“Freedom is not a state; it is an act. It is not some enchanted garden perched high on a distant plateau where we can finally sit down and rest. Freedom is the continuous action we all must take, and each generation must do its part to create an even more fair, more just society.”
~Rep. John Lewis

You have probably heard the term “white fragility” coined by writer Robin DiAngelo, she explains what it means here and writes more about the ways white fragility keeps many of us who are white from truly engaging issues of racial justice. You can find her book, White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism here. This week we’re digging into conversation about how we have all been shaped by the white dominant culture we’re swimming in. 
Please watch More Light’s second Installment of their Teach In: Racial Justice Part II. You will need this password: RaceJust2
In our conversation yesterday I promised a few follow up resources! 
Here is the poem by Gaunte that I mentioned called How to Explain White Supremacy to a White Supremacist.Here is Crossroads continuum on becoming an antiracist institution, please read through each column and come to our conversation with your thoughts on where you think Friendship is located on the continuum today.

Racial Justice: Introduction to Antiracism
“Culture is powerful precisely because it is so present and at the same time so very difficult to name or identify.”
~Tema Okun


As our conversation continues we find ourselves asking the question, what does antiracism look like as both a theological way of thinking and in practice as we continue to create community and the building of a new space. In other words, how will we build antiracism into the DNA of our lives together and into the spaces we create? 
Here is this week’s final installment: Racial Justice III from More Light Presbyterians. You will need this password to access it: RaceJust3
This discussion will distinguish between decentering whiteness and white silence. In it the conversation leaders will discuss the ways white supremacy appears in spaces even when no white people are present and will offer a theological praxis for working to dismantle systems that uphold white supremacy and division.  
In addition we offer two short articles, one is written by and for Black folks holding space for the very real grief they are experiencing: White Supremacy Takes Too Much Already, Don’t Let It Take Your Grief Too by Marisa Renne Lee
The other is written with white folks in mind who are raising/caring for/teaching or fostering community with kiddos and want to actively teach antiracism rather than continuing to uphold white supremacy: How Not To Raise A Racist White Kid by Jennifer Harvery
In our discussion last Sunday we began to peel back the layers of “white dominant culture” and the ways in which whiteness becomes normalized and internalized by all of us. Here is an article by Tema Okun digging into some of these particularities.
And finally we didn’t get to this last week so here it is again: Crossroads continuum on becoming an antiracist institution, please read through each column and come to our conversation with your thoughts on where you think Friendship is located on the continuum.
Bonus: Here is the link to the Assata Shakur Poem, I Believe In Living that we heard in worship on Sunday!

Racial Justice & Organizing for Change
“Community organizing is the best work that I’ve seen at the macro-level of social change. Most churches focus on micro-level work.”
-Rev. Dr. Angela Cowser


As we continue to tackle conversations around inclusion and racial justice we are reminded again and again that we cannot do this work alone. Because we are each a part of larger systems and communities real transformation only happens when we move together. Friendship is embedded in many systems including our neighborhood and surrounding community, the PCUSA and the wider Church to name a few we must build relationships with others and collaborate if we want to engage in lasting change.
This week we will learn more about how other congregations and communities are organizing for change. Read this article, Real Change Takes Community Organizing by Frances Wattman Rosenau about congregations and faith based communities that organized in the neighborhoods to address racial and socioeconomic injustice.
In addition to recognizing the need for collaboration, the antiracism work we’ve been doing has also taught us how important it is to work collaboratively in our communities with those who are directly affected by the issues we are tackling. If the issue is racism, we must collaborate with and follow the lead of People of Color. If the issue is housing we must work with and understand the stories of those who are facing housing insecurity. A good question to ask ourselves as we engage issues of social justice and equity is, “Are we doing this for the community?” or  “Are we doing this with the community?” If the answer is not with, it’s a good time to stop and gather collaborators!
As we consider how and who we are becoming in our new space, we will build relationships with those who live in and in the area around our new space at 5150 N. Northwest Hwy. One tool for building these relationships is Community Organizing. If Community Organizing is new to you, please read this great overview!
Here are two organizations we partner with on Chicago’s Northwest Side, on Sunday we will discuss how we can continue to build relationships that transform us! Neighbors for Affordable Housing and NWSide Coalition Against Racism & Hate