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Building community, sharing hope, and standing for justice since 2004

What is an Anti-Racist Organization?

ESTHER has adopted the goal of becoming an anti-racist organization, but we have never defined very clearly what that means. This post is intended to start a discussion on that topic, and for that purpose, I suggest that we should explore the implications of the definitions proposed by Ibram X. Kendi in his book How to be an Antiracist.[i]

Racism Grows from Racist Policies

Kendi begins with the idea that racist policies are adopted out of financial self-interest and not because of racist ideas and prejudices. The racist ideas and prejudices are created later to justify the policies (p. 42). For example, the Atlantic Slave Trade did not develop because Europeans hated Africans or believed them to be inferior. The trade developed because plantation owners in the American colonies were willing to pay for slaves to work in their sugar cane, rice and tobacco plantations. The racist claims that Africans were inferior to Europeans grew up later as justifications for the slave trade and for the practice of slavery in the colonies. The sequence also works in reverse. Reductions in racist ideas and prejudices follow policy changes rather than preceding them. For example, the integration of the schools in the South was followed by a reduction in racist prejudices in that region.

Thus, for Kendi, the focus in fighting racism must be on changing racist policies, not racist attitudes. Changes in attitudes will follow when the policies are changed. This is the basis of his definitions of “racist” and “antiracist,” which are (p. 13):

State Superintendent Candidate Forum

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Date: 
Thursday, January 7, 2021 - 7:00pm
Location: 
Virtual Event

State Superintendent Candidate Forum sponsored by Wisconsin Public Education Network, League of Women Voters of Wisconsin

Get to know the State Superintendent candidates!

The Wisconsin Public Education Network is hosting a virtual forum for the 2021 candidates for State Superintendent of Public Instruction, in partnership with the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin. Open to the public. Advance registration required.

Register Here

The non-partisan state superintendent election takes place on Tuesday, February 16 (primary) and Tuesday, April 6 (general). An equity-minded superintendent with the courage to stand up for our public schools is critical to the success of our children and the health of our democracy.

Integrating Trauma-Responsive Practices Into the Workplace

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Date: 
Monday, January 4, 2021 - 6:00pm - 7:30pm
Location: 
Zoom Meeting

This presentation is the program for the January 2021 meeting of ESTHER’s Prison Reform Task Force.

The meeting features a presentation by Bill Harrigan of Harrigan Solutions, Grafton, WI. He will describe how his company integrates trauma-responsive practices into the workplace.

This meeting will be conducted on Zoom. There is no charge, and all are welcome. Advance registration is required, and a link to the meeting will be sent to all registrants.

Register Now

Season’s Greetings from ESTHER

Ribbons and Holly

May you have a joyous holiday season

and a new year filled with good health, justice, hope and peace

Ribbons and Holly

 

Help Casa Esther Support Immigrants and Their Families

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The Federal government’s distribution of funds under the C.A.R.E.S. Act—in the form of stimulus checks, unemployment benefits, and other assistance—provides a financial lifeline for many, but not all, who have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

One group of people who need this assistance desperately are not eligible for Federal COVID-19 help. These immigrants live in our communities, contribute to the economy, and pay taxes. These men and women work on dairy farms, in meat-packing plants and cheese factories, in restaurants and cleaning services, in non-profits and small businesses through the Fox Valley.

Casa Esther, a Catholic Worker House in Omro, and an ESTHER member, was established in 2010. It works with a large network of Spanish-speaking people, providing support, education, and financial assistance in the Oshkosh-Omro area. In the last few weeks, using funds contributed to it by concerned Fox Valley residents, it has been able to distribute over $4,500 to people in need and to provide needed information and referrals to other agencies in the Fox Valley.

Contributions in support of this project may be sent directly to Casa Esther at 320 N Webster Ave, Omro 54963. Or make your donation by visiting Casa Esther’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/CasaEstherOmro.

How Highway Expansions Undermine Public Transit, Walking and Biking

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Date: 
Thursday, May 28, 2020 - 6:30pm - 8:00pm
Location: 
Zoom Webinar

Bus seats seen from floor levelSponsored by Coalition for More Responsible Transportation in Wisconsin.

Speakers include Beth Osborne from Transportation for America and Dennis Grzezinski on highway expansion and transit issues in LaCrosse.

Policymakers often present costly highway expansions as a critical solution to gridlocked traffic and unsafe roadways. But decades of evidence show that building bigger roads makes congestion worse. We also know that highway expansions negatively impact public health and safety, disproportionately harm low-income and minority communities, and undermine alternative forms of transportation in a variety of ways. Learn from expert presenters why bigger, wider roads won’t solve Wisconsin’s transportation problems.

RSVP here for Zoom link: https://forms.gle/MXo9uLByjrr3fUQX8

Read more about the event on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/events/173240474022207/

Sacred/Scared

The ESTHER board gathered on March 12 for what will probably be its last in-person meeting for several months. These meetings always start with an opening reflection intended to help members keep their focus on ESTHER’s larger purpose and not get lost in “administrivia.” We are pleased to share with you now what ESTHER President Gary Crevier shared with the board at that time. We hope it may be of help to you in these times as chaos spreads and the temptation to worry climbs.

When our approach to life comes from an attitude of being scared, without hope, we fail to see the sacredness of creation and everything in the cosmos. That includes you and me.

Notice that the only difference between the words sacred and scared is the interchanged positions of the letters c and a, sacred/scared.

I would suggest that a in the word sacred stands for awesomeness, awareness, acceptance and art-filled presence in all of us, creation, the cosmos; and the c in the word scared stands for cowardliness, contempt and a cynical outlook on life.

So what if now, given the presence of the COVID-19 illness, we “flip the script,” so to speak, and live our lives more as sacred and filled with hope, instead of being scared? Let’s do what we can to confront this crisis, like self-distancing, touching of elbows rather than shaking of hands, sneezing into our elbows or simply avoiding crowds. Regardless of the outcome, it's the right thing to do.

May you be richly blessed in patience and hope during these uncertain times.

WISDOM State Budget Webinar

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Date: 
Tuesday, January 12, 2021 - 5:00pm - 6:00pm
Location: 
Zoom Meeting

WISDOM logo

The state budget is the one significant piece of legislation that absolutely must be passed by the State Legislature and the Governor, no matter how deadlocked they are about everything else. The budget decides how much money is available for schools, public transportation, prisons, alternatives to prison, transitional jobs, health care, etc. for the next two years.

You are invited to join us for a Webinar about the 2021-23 Wisconsin State Budget process, especially about the ways that ordinary people can have an influence on how our tax dollars are invested.

Tuesday, January 12
5:00 to 6:00 pm

To sign up, click on this link: State Budget Webinar
Fill out the form, and you should get a return email from "WISDOM Host" that will include a link to join the Zoom call at 5 pm.

Scores of WISDOM people participated in the Governor's Listening Sessions back in December. This webinar is the next step. There will be more, leading up to our Madison Action Day on April 15.

Last week, we all saw the wrong way for people to try to make their voices heard. This week, we'll be talking about the right way!