Swedenborgians in Action Against Racism
Hi everyone. This newsletter is for Swedenborgians (and friends) who want to learn how to support anti-racism. But we are not going to pretend that we are experts here; we are learning alongside you. There are lots of activists and educators who have been working in the anti-racism field for a long time. Our plan (in the words of Meera Mohan-Graham) is to Absorb and Amplify those voices, and follow their lead.

As we all strive to learn, change, and act together, we invite you join the Manifold Angels Facebook group for connection throughout the journey. The work is just beginning. 
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This is an (approximately) bi-weekly newsletter, though the schedule may change occasionally. One issue per month will be a deep dive into a particular issue (you can find links to these at the end of the newsletter). The alternating issues (like this one) will be more personal/devotional, aiming to help build stamina and commitment for the ongoing work for racial justice. Thanks for joining us!
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From: bell hooks death is a call to action, by Marcie Bianco, Think: Opinion, Essays, Analysis

hooks’ world-changing books on feminism, to me, partner in kind with her world-building books on love....

Exposing the strictures of the dynamic and intersecting systems of domination — what she often referred to as the “imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy” — was only the start of her vision, not the endgame.

Hers was a world-building achieve a cultural transformation demands that each of us become aware of each other and take responsibility for our actions and the choices we make...

She added, “women must learn to accept responsibility for fighting oppressions that may not directly affect us as individuals … When we show our concern for the collective, we strengthen our solidarity.”

And this is why love figured so integrally into hooks’ world-building. Love is a practice, actions that we have a choice of willing to create communities based on values of dignity, belonging, justice and joy. Social movements, like the Black civil rights movement, that transform society are “rooted in a love ethic,” she wrote in “Love as the Practice of Freedom,” in “Outlaw Culture.”

Love is an ethical choice and the antidote to systems of oppressions. “A culture of domination is anti-love,” hooks explained. “It requires violence to sustain itself. To choose to love is to go against the prevailing values of the culture.”

But to choose love is also to practice freedom, because it requires an awareness that all our freedoms are interconnected:

“Awareness is central to the process of love as the practice of freedom. Whenever those of us who are members of exploited and oppressed groups dare to critically interrogate our locations, the identities and allegiances that inform how we live our lives, we begin the process of decolonization. If we discover in ourselves self-hatred, low self-esteem, or internalized white supremacist thinking and we face it, we can begin to heal.”

This understanding of freedom evokes a tradition of feminist thinkers and activists who understood that, as Audre Lorde said, “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.” It is what Simone de Beauvoir called a “genuine freedom.” World-building is not a solitary endeavor, contrary to the imperialist notion of American rugged individualism. We depend on one another — we depend on the body that nurtures us and bears us; we depend on teachers, parents and mentors to educate and guide us through our lives; and, as the Covid-19 pandemic has shown us, we depend on health care workers to save our lives. We depend on politicians to enact laws to improve our infrastructure that secures our bridges and provides us clean water. We depend, that is, on the services of others — despite the fact that our society largely refuses to acknowledge (and compensate) as such.

And this is the enjoinder of bell hooks’ passing. Just scrolling through the hundreds of tweets and posts on social media quoting this Black feminist north star, one can see how many of us were affected by her words. Here is our call to action:

“The moment we choose to love we begin to move against domination, against oppression. The moment we choose to love we begin to move towards freedom, to act in ways that liberate ourselves and others. That action is the testimony of love as the practice of freedom.”


From: Black History Month is Over. Thank Goodness, by Cole Arthur Riley, The Washington Post

"Over the course of February, I received 21 requests to speak or write for Black History Month. Of those requests, 18 were from White people.

I’m not alone. Every year, what is intended to be a time of remembrance and storytelling becomes a month of additional labor — usually with very little notice — for Black people. It becomes a season when we must sell our stories and ideas to sate the appetites of White folk who want to feel as though they’ve done the right thing.

For 28 days, every Black person in America is expected to shape-shift into a historian. We ask this of no other race...

To pass on and inherit our stories can be beautiful, but when we are expected to teach the outsider — to convince the outsider of our intellect, our contribution — Black History Month becomes less a tradition of memory and inheritance, and much more a path to exhaustion under the relentless weight of what Toni Morrison called the “White gaze.” “Black excellence,” at its worst, can devolve into the mere act of proving that Black people are capable of the excellent. Or worse still, of proving that Black people are human at all.

Because of what White capitalism has done to us, it requires great strength to resist the gaze of Whiteness. Because (1) the White gaze pays; and (2) White affirmation goes viral...

I’m too tired to be a historian in this season. To be clear, I want to remember our history — and remember well. But to honor Black history I must extricate myself from the demands and temptations of the White gaze. I owe this to myself, to Morrison, to the Black women who made history and those who did nothing but lie down and breathe. After all, rest is how memory is stored."

Second session coming up on March 28th

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Few know what freedom is and what non-freedom is. Freedom seems to entail everything that is in keeping with any love and associated delight, and non-freedom to entail everything that is at variance with these. That which is in keeping with self-love and love of the world, and with the desires belonging to those loves, seems to man to be freedom; but that is the freedom of hell. That however which is in keeping with love to the Lord and love towards the neighbour, consequently with the love of what is good and true, is true freedom, being the freedom that exists in heaven.


Father, Mother God,
Thank you for your presence
during the hard and mean days.
For then we have you to lean upon.

Thank you for your presence
during the bright and sunny days,
for then we can share that which we have
with those who have less.

And thank you for your presence
during the Holy Days, for then we are able
to celebrate you and our families
and our friends.

For those who have no voice,
we ask you to speak.

For those who feel unworthy,
we ask you to pour your love out
in waterfalls of tenderness.

For those who live in pain,
we ask you to bathe them
in the river of your healing.

For those who are lonely, we ask
you to keep them company.

For those who are depressed,
we ask you to shower upon them
the light of hope.

Dear Creator, You, the borderless
sea of substance, we ask you to give all the
world that which we need most -- Peace.

Maya Angelou

Police Brutality
Intersectionality and LGBTQ Rights
White Privilege/White Fragility
Voting Rights and Voter Supression
Indigenous Rights
Racism in Education
Racism in Healthcare
Images of God
Anti-Racism Resources for Kids
Black History Month
Intersectional Feminism/Anti-Asian Racism
Environmental Racism
Critical Race Theory
Immigration Rights and Xenophobia
Restorative Justice
Civic Engagement


Just a note: the various viewpoints included in these newsletters (either by authors of content or the organizations they represent) do not necessarily represent the viewpoint or position of the Swedenborgian Church of North America (SCNA). The editors present them in the spirit of learning and reflection. 

(Editors: Rev. Shada Sullivan and Lori Gayheart)

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