Through interest from many parishioners, St. James’ has formed a Racial Justice & Reconciliation Commission to do our part in the community.  This group of active volunteers meets regularly and is committed to sharing important information to St. James’ Family regarding Racial Justice.  Beginning February 2021, this Commission will share resource material here and within the weekly newsletter.  And every 4th Thursday, there will be a Zoom discussion group to talk at 7pm about the resource material shared for that month.  
 
 
 
Next Meeting:  Thursday, June 24, 7pm
Zoom Meeting Info:  Please contact the Parish Office.
parishoffice@stjamesskan.org or Parish Office Phone (leave message): 315.685.7600
for the Zoom Meeting ID if you are interested in participating in the monthly meeting discussion
                                       
June 2021 Topic-READING MATERIAL-CLICK HERE
The discussion group for the month of June is on the topic of “Microaggressions.” Microaggressions are the short, quick, everyday encounters that send degrading messages to minority groups. The session will begin with a presentation by Dr. Rhoda Overstreet Wilson, followed by a discussion. Dr. Wilson will explore the various kinds of racial and gender microaggressions and the lasting impact they can have.
About the Speaker:
Dr. Rhoda Overstreet-Wilson was born and raised in Auburn New York. She received her Doctorate in Education from St. John Fisher College in July 2020 after successfully defending her dissertation on Gender Microaggression. She is currently the Executive Director of the Westminster Manor Adult Home in Auburn. Prior to working with the elderly, she worked for over twenty years in the juvenile justice system, advocating for youth and their families in a system plagued with institutional barriers designed for Black, Brown, and disenfranchised people. Dr. Wilson serves as the Board President of the Booker. T. Washington Community Center, the Vice President of the Auburn Cayuga Branch of the NAACP, and an Auburn Enlarged City School District board member. She believes that the development of intentional partnerships is the key to change and purposefully cultivates community connections that give her a platform to be a change agent.
 
May 2021 Topic
A panel of presenters from the Eastern Farm Workers Association (EFWA) will speak about what they do, the realities that they see currently for farm workers and other low-income workers in Syracuse and the surrounding area, as well as the benefits program they provide to members.
EFWA is a free, voluntary, unincorporated association of low-income workers, concerned citizens, clergy, and students. The association has been present in CNY since 1974, successfully organizing farm workers to alleviate poverty. In 1997 EFWA expanded operations and relocated to Syracuse to address closures and downsizing that were impacting hundreds of local workers.
Currently there are 30,000+ members in CNY and an 11 point Benefit Program that offers dental and medical benefits, emergency food and clothing, job referral along with other services.
The May 27 discussion will provide information about the realities of local low-income workers as well as volunteer opportunities. Please contact the parish office for Zoom ID and password.
Interesting article about EFWA-CLICK HERE
 
 
April 2021 Topic
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
Summary of Book:
(Small Great Things; Ballantine Books, New York, 2016. Kindle AZW file)
Ruth Jackson grew up in a poor part of the city, and her mother worked as a maid for the Hallowells, a wealthy white family in Manhattan. As a child, Ruth showed a high level of intelligence and earned a spot at an elite school. Her mother taught Ruth about the importance of appearances, and Ruth spends most of her life struggling to fit into a white-dominated world and profession.
As a child, Ruth and her sister Adisa occasionally went with their mother to the Hallowell home. They sometimes played with the daughter of the family, Christina. There, Ruth learned more about the division between the races though as an adult, she realized that at least some of those issues were of her own making. One day, the three children were present when Mrs. Mina Hallowell went into early labor and gave birth to a son with only Ruth’s mother to help her. Ruth noted that the three children witnessed the event, and each had a different reaction. Christina had her child through a surrogate mother; Rachel had five children; and, Ruth became a labor and delivery nurse.
Ruth is the only black nurse in her department when Brittany Bauer gives birth to a son she names Davis. She and her husband, Turk, are skinheads and do not bother to hide their prejudice. Ruth takes care of Davis for only a few minutes before Turk objects and the supervisor removes Ruth from the case. Ruth is understandably angry but obeys the demand. A couple of days later, a pediatrician performs a circumcision on Davis. Nurses must observe infants following the procedure, but the nurse assigned to Davis’ case is called away for an emergency C-section. Policy requires that the supervisor help with transporting the patient to the emergency room, meaning that Ruth is literally the only nurse available to watch Davis.
She steps into the nursery where the infant is sleeping to monitor him, keeping in mind that she has been told not to touch him. When Davis stops breathing, Ruth goes against those orders, trying the minor steps that sometimes start an infant breathing again. Those steps have no effect, and the supervisor arrives at that moment. She asks what Ruth is doing, and Ruth answers that she is not doing anything. The medical staff does everything possible, but the baby dies.
Turk files a complaint with the police and an investigation ensues. Ruth had worried that she would lose her job because she took action, but it then appears that she might be put in prison because she said she had done nothing. As she prepares for trial, she connects with a public defender named Kennedy McQuarrie. Kennedy is white and believes that she has no prejudices. She and Ruth have a connection that borders on friendship as Kennedy learns what everyday life is like for Ruth and Kennedy discovers that she – like most people – does have some prejudices. In Kennedy’s case, she goes overboard trying to seem unbiased.
Ignoring all her basic rules in a trial of this nature, Kennedy allows Ruth to take the stand to tell her own version of events and she then talks at length about race and prejudice. Ruth also tells the truth – that she had taken action when Davis stopped breathing, though she was told not to touch the infant. When Kennedy presents evidence that Davis died because of complications related to his mother’s gestational diabetes, the jury becomes irrevocably hung and the judge grants Kennedy’s motion to dismiss all charges.
Years pass. Ruth becomes a nurse practitioner; Brittany commits suicide. Turk realizes that his hatred has no purpose in his life. He becomes a speaker, talking against the hate that rules so many people and events. He marries, takes his wife’s last name to distance himself from his past, and has a daughter. One day, he arrives at a clinic, and Ruth takes care of his daughter. He is not certain if she recognizes him, but he is happy to see that she is thriving after the ordeal.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
March 2021 Topic
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
February 2021 Topic
Letter from the Birmingham Jail-CLICK HERE
 
The Commission is also engaging as a group in Sacred Ground.–CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO
Sacred Ground is a film and readings based dialogue series on race, grounded in faith.
Presented by the national Episcopal Church, the series invites groups to walk through America’s
history of race and racism focusing on indigenous, Black, Latino and Asian/Pacific American
histories as they interact with European/American history. Its purpose is to provide a prayerful
resource for respectful and transformative dialogue on race and racism. It is an attempt to be
responsive to the profound challenges currently existing in our society.
Groups meet for ten sessions to discuss the films and readings assigned for that session.
These assignments focus on key chapters of race and racism in US History as well as some of
the latest thinking by scholars and practitioners of racial healing, racial equity and whiteness.
They invite exploration of how people of color have been harmed by racism, and how white
people have been hurt in other ways, creating a shared, if deeply unequal, brokenness that
compels us to overcome this legacy in deliberate partnership..
The series, framed as a spiritual journey, is grounded in Christian faith. It is intended to remove
impediments that inhibit our understanding, so that we will be moved and can move others to
banish racism.