Gaza Pinwheels Project: a way to memorialize the 512 children who died in the recent siege on Gaza and spark conversations toward change on your campus, at your place of worship, or other public spaces.
Learn more about the project at afsc.org/pinwheels

Gaza Pinwheels Project: a way to memorialize the 512 children who died in the recent siege on Gaza and spark conversations toward change on your campus, at your place of worship, or other public spaces.

Learn more about the project at afsc.org/pinwheels

Call for submissions for poster art on alternatives to militarization of our borders, police and foreign policy! Submit your work to travel as part of this exhibit.
Guidelines and more details at afsc.org/poster

Call for submissions for poster art on alternatives to militarization of our borders, police and foreign policy! Submit your work to travel as part of this exhibit.

Guidelines and more details at afsc.org/poster

Participants in our AFSC Chicago summer program learning mosaic work in order to create and install 100 mosaic stepping stones for a community garden in the Pilsen neighborhood. 
More at http://afsc.org/story/social-enterprise-improves-chicago-youth-employment

Participants in our AFSC Chicago summer program learning mosaic work in order to create and install 100 mosaic stepping stones for a community garden in the Pilsen neighborhood. 

More at http://afsc.org/story/social-enterprise-improves-chicago-youth-employment

From Oscar Grant to Anastasio Rojas—militarization affects us all. This black/brown unity mural was created in response by our 67 Sueños program and the Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland, CA. More about the project here

Love in the belly of the beast

by Laura Magnani

http://afsc.org/friends/love-belly-beast

The first time I visited a prisoner, I was in my early 20s and working for the Friends Committee on Legislation of California in Sacramento. When we told the prisoner that two of us wanted to visit, he distanced himself from the idea as much as possible: “I know you are really busy. You shouldn’t really take the time. I’ll understand if you can’t make it.”

Structured penance by Mike
Once inside the gates, all conversation between my mentor and me ceased. It immediately became obvious that this was some foreign land built on assumptions far different from the ones I had previously known. We waited in a room next to the visiting room, where you weren’t allowed to bring a book, or newspaper, or anything that could help you meaningfully pass the time. Time is what there was plenty of there. When we were finally escorted into the visiting room, our friend found his way to our table, reached out his hand, and said, “Thanks for coming; I haven’t had a visit in 13 years.”

Years later, in a federal women’s prison, I facilitated a women’s group, one of whose members decided to throw a birthday party for herself. She invited a few friends and sat with them on her bunk, surrounded by a few candy bars she was able to purchase from the commissary. A guard came by and saw this scene, broke it up, and confiscated the candy. He gave no particular reason for this action. They were breaking no rules, but he just thought there must be something wrong because they were enjoying themselves in prison. Or maybe he was just having a bad day. The system allows him—even encourages him—to take out his pain on others. The women had absolutely no recourse, and they knew it.

To me, the beast is the embodiment of the evil of a system that operates as an intense harming force. We are all in its belly, drowning in its toxic juices as it swallows up our resources and delivers up more dangerous people into a world that is trained to hate them and block them from thriving on the outside.

Concertina Wire by Kate Ter Haar
Concertina Wire by Kate Ter Haar
I really don’t want to talk about sin at all. It is too tied up with individual failings, with personal wrongdoing. I want to address something even scarier: the “E” word. I have come to believe there truly is something called Evil out there, and rather than go to a place of denial, we really need to get acquainted with it. The E word for me is about systemic realities that force us into violent and abusive cultures that are almost impossible to resist or overcome. As with sin, Quakers don’t go there much—we prefer the positive. But, is it possible we don’t go there because most of us have had the luxury not to? Most of us are people of privilege, whether based on our color, our economic status, our education, our location in the dominant culture, or all of those things. The kinds of horrors that might put us smack up against capital E evil could be living in a war zone, living in a domestic situation that feels like a war zone, living with a skin color other than white, or living in prison. If we found ourselves in one of those social locations, the idea that evil exists would be really hard to miss.

I work on prison issues, so the beast that I want to unpack is what goes on in these very hidden institutions. There is a very high level of violence, engaged in by the keepers as well as the kept. Distrust and suspicion are the ruling factors, not sometime things people learn to engage in after they’ve been betrayed. People in prisons are constantly confronted with decisions: kill or be killed; show gentleness and vulnerability at your own peril; demonstrate leadership and you risk indefinite isolation and other punishment. The environment is so toxic that surviving is a constant struggle, and the chances of achieving something like wholeness are remote.

I know it is uncomfortable to stay in this place. But we can’t find our way out without knowing what we are dealing with. I want to focus on two features that I think illustrate the toxicity of this beast’s belly: racism and the use of solitary confinement.Read the rest of the Friends Journal article here.

Racism is more than acts of physical violence; it’s about the systems that have been set up to benefit one group of people over another since the founding of the U.S.

(Excerpt from our Google Hangout “Injustice in the justice system”. More clips at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1UZJR-LF0FI

How do we work towards more peaceful relationships between police and communities of color?

What about talking to police on streets directly-instead of their leaders behind desks—to create change from the ground up?

Some interesting insights on creating policy changes from the bottom up in this excerpt from our live streamed conversation last week. More excerpts athttp://afsc.org/story/recap-injustice-justice-system-google-hangout

The difference a letter can make. 

Jose vs. Joe: who gets the job.

You don’t belong here: how young men of color are pushed out of schools

Lewis Webb, Jr., (AFSC New York City) works to address the root causes of racism and inequality. His work focuses on the school-to-prison pipeline.

In this short clip from our livestreamed conversation last week, he describes the harmful policies that together identify young men of color as less than human and funnel them out of schools and into prisons.