Category Archives: Reflections

Martin Luther King Day 2023 reflections

Mural on the walls of Gideon Edward School, Philadelphia

Change the systems: On this day of remembering and honoring Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., many of us complete voluntary service to better our community. Yes, do the volunteering, but also change the systems that have systemically and systematically excluded Black, Brown, and Indigenous people. These two words are intentional. The exclusion is across the system (systemically). The exclusion is regular and automatic (systematically).

Here are some resources for change:

For self -reflection, education, and moving an organization away from harming BIPOC:

Fern emerging from fire damage in Wharton State Forest, NJ, summer 2022

Roots of Justice (ROJ): ROJ offers services to groups or individuals, in order us to see the hidden ways institutions have harmed Black, Brown, and Indigenous people, and for us to make changes. In ROJ’s website’s own words: “We are a collective of anti-racism educators and organizers…. We are indigenous, Black, Latino/a/e, and white people from across the U.S….Our core values are: Authentic Relationships; A vision of a Just World, Systemic Approach to Undoing Oppression; Long Term, Sustainable Life-giving Strategies; Liberated Spirituality”.

Arcadia: Birthed Out of Love – Amir Campbell, 2022

How is your group doing on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion or Justice choices? Plan deliberate improvements: Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice Screening Tool

The Environmental field is full of well-meaning caucasian-heavy structures. If we (diverse and inclusive) are moving forward in caring for the environment and ourselves, we need each voice. You know groups of people have been and currently are systemically and systematically excluded. How does an organization evaluate and change where it stands as it improves diversity, equity, inclusion and justice?

The Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed (CDRW) has created an effective DEIJ tool (see above link, below the photo) through its core priority of DEIJ.

In 2022, CDRW continued their work on DEIJ by contracting with Tribesy to evaluate what the institution (CDRW) said about itself on the topics of diversity, equity, inclusion and justice, and whether it met its own goals. Out of this effort, a roadmap for moving forward was determined, and a lens tool was created.

When any decision is being made, this lens can be used to broaden the decision in order to be more diverse, equitable, inclusive and just. It’s a powerful tool.

But only if it is being used.

Take a look. Try the series of questions when you are making a decision. Planning an event? Ask the questions. Hiring a new staff member? Ask the questions as you set the system of hiring in place. Choosing where to donate money? Ask the questions.

Local networking: right here, right now.

If you are white, it’s likely that your network is white, and likely that your decisions are centered on your voice and being in control. Consider connecting to BIPOC led groups and supporting BIPOC efforts first: local businesses or established networks that are centered in the BIPOC communities and equitable in their board, their staff, and their efforts. Here are some organizations local to Cheltenham/North West Philadelphia:

“Peace” 2022

TBC: The Business Center The BizCenter annual celebration in 2022 was inspiring, full of strength, expertise, networking, and joy. Connect to and support this business that is assisting to grow the black economic community.


POWER Interfaith POWER is a multi-faith group that collectively seeks to improve our community. Currently their campaigns include Education, Economic Dignity, Climate Justice, Civic Engagement, and The Live Free Campaign for Criminal Justice Reform.

Collaborative art 2022

In the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr., on this MLKDay of Service, aim for The Beloved Community. Look to changing the systems that harm Black, Brown, and Indigenous people. It is the right thing to do. Our future is dependent on all of us. What harms one, harms all.

Five minute reflection on “me and white supremacy” by Layla Saad Germantown Mennonite Church, May 2, 2021

One of the problems of white supremacy culture is that the culture centers on white people, and sees things through only white people’s eyes, for the benefit of white people.

As I worked with creating a 5-minute talk about Layla Saad’s book, me and white supremacy, I had a good talk written and ready to go. Practiced, re-written, honed. but it didn’t sit right.

Good story. All about what I had learned, how I had grown, the significance to me of facing hard questions, not only looking at white supremacy culture, but also looking at how facing white supremacy was helping me with other challenges in my life.

It was all about me.

I had to toss it.

This reflection is not as put together, but here are some points from Layla Saad’s book.

First: we can’t do this right. Do it anyway.  You’re going to make mistakes. Make them. Learn, and start again.

Second: this is not easy, and if you can walk away from facing white supremacy culture, and you can take a break from racism, you will be compelled to do so. When that happens, and you take a break, start again.

Third: where is your learning sweet spot? I like numbers, so a 21-day challenge of reading or practicing a new pattern every day and logging it motivates me. But you might have a different motivation. Find your motivation for learning about white supremacy culture, and make a commitment to do so. We need good ancestors.

Fourth: Facing white supremacy culture is uncomfortable. Practice staying present in uncomfortable conversations. Stay present. Understand and unpack your discomfort. The goal is to stop harming black and brown people.

Fifth: Imagine walking in another’s shoes.   I can’t tell you disclosing stories about the racially diverse situations that I’m in, so let’s look at publicly written work. Austin Channing Brown wrote a book called “I’m still here”. She writes about her experiences as a black woman within a white culture dominated evangelical church. When she describes meetings that harm and isolate her, I can see myself sitting in those same meetings, unaware that what is going on is harmful.

Arundhati Roy says
“The trouble is that once you see it, you can’t unsee it. And once you’ve seen it, keeping quiet, saying nothing, becomes as political an act as speaking out. There’s no innocence. Either way, you’re accountable.”

Austin concludes her book by saying she doesn’t have hope, but she is living in the shadow of hope. This is helpful to me, not only in the realm of dismantling white supremacy, but in other areas of my life where I can’t see hope.

I’ll accept that as I’m attempting to center on black and brown people, I’m failing. I keep circling back to me.  

Focusing back on Layla Saad’s book, clearly, I’m working on stepping into difficult topics and conversations. I’m also working on hearing correction without being defensive, and speaking out without first covering myself by getting someone else’s authority. In each of these healthier patterns, I’m vulnerable, I’m exposed.

Of course, I’m having a repetitive naked dream. In the dream I’m going about my business, shopping, driving, walking in a crowd, and I’m naked. And you know what? No one cares. It’s not about me. I don’t need to be hidden and falsely protected. I am in own my skin.

Thanks for listening.

Intersection of The Environment, Mennonite Faith, and White Centered Culture

August 16, 2020 Sermon at Germantown Mennonite Church, reflections from a swamp, considering Joseph and his brothers, Genesis 45:1-15 Go to the podcast for August 16, 2020, for the full service.

I’ve been a member at Germantown Mennonite Church since 1976 (!) when my Church Membership transferred in, along with my parents, the year I went off to college. We have a tradition of lay people providing a sermon off and on, and during the years that there weren’t a lot of women voices, I made a point of speaking once a year. Once our pastor was a woman, I did not see the need to continue that pattern. But an occasional sermon, well, this I can do.

Check on the links above for either the written version, or the podcast version (full service). (My talk starts at 28 minutes.)