The goals of the ERTF include understanding and admitting to white privilege and ending racism be it individual, group, and/or systemic by motivating ourselves and our congregation to unlearn our personal biases and work to undo institutional racism throughout Society.
What is the Philadelphia Ethical Society’s ERTF?
Our Ethical Society’s Ending Racism Task Force (ERTF) was established in late 2017 as a subcommittee of the Society’s Ethical Action Committee with goals to understand and end racism in ourselves, in our Ethical Society, and in society in general. There is no formal membership, though 28 have joined the list for agenda announcements. The meetings are open to all—including persons who are not Society members—and are announced at the Society’s Sunday morning platforms. All that is needed is desire to become more educated about racism and willingness to work to end it.
Among the activities of the ERTF is a brief reflection related to racism that is presented by various members at the Society’s Sunday morning platforms. In addition, various members write an Ending Racism column for the Society’s monthly newsletter. Past newsletter columns are collected and presented on this page of our website. Other related topics are also introduced from the news and from members’ other organizational contacts.
In addition to monthly meetings to plan and volunteer for these activities, we have a monthly potluck dinner, as announced at a Sunday platform. Before attending the potluck, we are expected to prepare individually by reading some document on a previously-specified topic related to racism that will be the focus of that month’s gathering. However, the purpose of the potluck is not to discuss the document. Instead, the purpose is to use the reading as a basis for exploring with one another the topic as it is personally meaningful to us. To further this purpose, we should not debate or confront one another. Instead, we each have time to react with our own understanding of one another’s statements.
On racism from our Clergy Leader, Hugh Taft-Morales
Since January of 2019, Clergy Leader Hugh Taft-Morales has written regularly to encourage people, particularly white people, to learn about racism in American history and how historical roots are still oppressing people of color today. He also offers suggestions for continuing this work. You can read his work at 400years.today.
Also, Hugh has summarized the many things our Ethical Society has done to put meaning to the “Black Lives Matter” sign we have had in the front window of our building at 1906 South Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia. See here.
How to Learn More About the ERTF
If you are interested in attending ERTF meetings or the potluck, please contact one of the co-chairs, Erik Younge or Sylvia Metzler , to talk about your thoughts about the group and to be clear about the purpose of it. Also, upcoming and recent ERTF activities are often covered in the Society’s newsletter, Ethical Views.