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Racial Justice Group: How We've Evolved

by Paula Farmer

On June 30, 2020, GLIDE’s Racial Justice congregational life group convened to reaffirm our collective commitment toward justice, during the height of a pandemic and a slew of deaths of Black and Brown people at the hands of law enforcement.


The mission of our group is to educate and seek liberation for the oppressed and marginalized, with an emphasis on Black and Indigenous people, in order to realize the beloved community we are being called to be. We changed our approach to be proactive, using a Systems Thinking framework so that we could hone in on the issues that mattered within our working group, while still leaving space to participate when other issues required that we give voice. Rather than only focusing on protesting, we decided to educate ourselves and reconsider the most impactful direction our work could take.


The controversial cry to Defund the Police was quickly becoming a movement with the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. Our first action was to educate ourselves to understand the systems of policing and how it worked beyond just what we know in the day-to-day interactions with officers on the street. We started with its foundations and history, which many people were unaware had its beginnings in slave patrols. Eventually we began to learn more about police unions, organizing and how we as citizens could force change. We worked to enact change and create partnerships with other organizations, with an eye toward the San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley Police Departments.


We were simultaneously working on voter suppression initiatives with the 2020 election and the Get Out The Vote endeavors in Georgia and Arizona. Our members wrote letters and postcards. We also hosted a California Assembly Voters Education Forum to educate the community about the bigger picture of state and local hierarchy within government. Meanwhile, we were also outlining our group initiatives which include the following: Black Trans Lives, Black Women, Food Insecurity with an emphasis on children, Police Reform, Reparations and Voter Suppression.


Most recently we hosted a forum designed for BIPOC people. We also hosted a forum in conversation with Miguel Bustos from GLIDE’s Center for Social Justice, a magnificent team of leaders who work to influence public policy and change public perceptions around poverty, discrimination, and civil and human rights.


Over the decades, GLIDE Church has been dedicated to Racial Justice. In our Congregational Life Group’s many iterations, we’ve served more as a grassroots organization and call-to-action of the people for the people. We’ve taken it to the streets in peaceful protests and community outreach to uphold justice in both proactive and reactive ways. Freedom songs rang out in the air as well as banners and posters of the latest victims of violence at the hands of the various systems that govern us.


So much has been accomplished through our actions to elevate the conversation and provide a healing space for the community to speak out. Through education, organization, and unflinching reimagination, we look forward to continuing working as a fingertip of GLIDE Memorial Church and a sculpture of a free and just society.