This is article is Part III of a three-part series sharing some of the background of the Land Food and Race Bearing Witness Retreat in September of 2017. Please consider applying by July 17 to join us. Part I. Part II.
After I realized my reluctance to talk about race to a predominantly white group, I attended a bearing witness training at the Greyston Foundation, which was established by Zen Peacemakers founder Bernie Glassman. When Paco, a senior teach of color to whom I expressed that reluctance, raised the topic of race, he said to the group “Ariel and I had a really good conversation about this yesterday. He's got something to say about it.” I was afraid. I thought I might never feel ready and decided to initiate dialogue anyway. I shared some of my experiences and questions. These experiences, along with listening to racial justice activists, resulted in the Land Food and Race Bearing Witness Retreat Paco and I, along with leaders of Soul Fire Farm, will lead in September.
I have experienced that addressing my own privilege and racism as a white person is a major opportunity to practice bearing witness. The Land, Food and Race Bearing Witness Retreat will provide an opportunity to bear witness to the food system and also racism that pervades it. It will be a chance to bear witness to prejudice in ourselves and in our communities. If you are considering joining us on this retreat, please visit www.unitytables.org to learn more and apply today.
“The Peacemakers we remember and honor most are those who try to heal our society as a whole, not just pieces of it... Once they bear witness to the functioning of an entire society, the healing that arises is on the scale of an entire society. During this process they challenge every human being and institution, as well as our very way of life...The healing that arises threatens the very foundation of these societies. We will be called troublemakers, we’ll be called Communists. And sometimes we’ll be arrested, beaten, or killed.” Bernie Glassman in Bearing Witness