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

Upcoming Events

Please join us for any of these upcoming ESTHER events!

  • To learn more about a particular event, click on its title
  • To see the complete ESTHER calendar, click on More at the bottom left of the listing
Thursday, October 1, 2020 - 10:00am - 6:00pm
Racial Justice Talking Circle Appleton Memorial Park, 1620 E Witzke Blvd, Appleton
Friday, October 2, 2020 - 10:00am - 6:00pm
Racial Justice Talking Circle Appleton Memorial Park, 1620 E Witzke Blvd, Appleton
Monday, October 5, 2020 - 6:00pm - 7:30pm
ESTHER Prison Reform Task Force Zoom Meeting
Tuesday, October 6, 2020 - 4:00pm
Oshkosh ESTHER Zoom Meeting
Monday, October 12, 2020 - 6:00pm - 7:30pm
Mental Health Task Force Meeting Zoom Meeting

Statement on the Police Shooting of Jacob Blake and Call for Change

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This statement from ESTHER President Gary Crevier in regard to the shooting of Jacob Blake was issued on Tuesday, August 25.

ESTHER cries out again over the senseless shooting of another black man, a result of systemic racism in policing--this time in Kenosha, WI. Jacob Blake, another human being, is the latest victim of this insidious racist plague infecting our nation. How can we guarantee that this will not happen in the Fox Valley? We cannot, until we have that difficult but necessary conversation addressing how our implicit biases are impacting how we write and then implement our policing procedures.

Gary Crevier
ESTHER President

 

ESTHER 2020 Annual Celebration

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Date: 
Sunday, November 1, 2020 - 5:00pm - 6:00pm
Location: 
Virtual
Rev Traci Blackmon

Sunday, November 1, 2020
5:00PM

Our 17th Annual Celebration
“Voices for Justice”

A Virtual Event

Featuring:

  • An Inspiring Speaker
  • Annual Justice Awards
  • Great Local Music
  • Outstanding (Online) Silent Auction

Register now:
   https://esther-foxvalley.org/banquet

40 Days of Prayer and Reflection from Gamaliel Religious Leaders

WISDOM

Few national elections have had as much at stake as the upcoming November 2020 election. As people of many faiths, we know that our nation stands in crisis, divided in seemingly endless ways, and at a significant crossroad. WISDOM invites you to join our statewide network, and others across the nation, in the Gamaliel Religious Leaders Caucus’ 40 Days of Prayer and Reflection leading up to the election.

In Search of Writers and Editors ...

We are looking for writers for ESTHER’s new blog.

If you would like to participate in building our on-line presence, please let Bill Van Lopik know.

  • If you like to write, you can be a blogger. We will help you to learn about how to write a good blog post.
  • If you are not sure about your writing skill, we can provide editing help.

We also want to put together a team to manage our blog. Our goals include:

  • Publicizing ESTHER’s work
  • Explaining the importance of the work of our task forces.
  • Showing ESTHER’s expertise and credibility in the areas where we work.

If you want to participate, let Bill know right away. We will schedule a meeting to plan how we will work together.

Racial Justice Talking Circle

Date: 
Thursday, October 1, 2020 - 10:00am - 6:00pm
Date: 
Friday, October 2, 2020 - 10:00am - 6:00pm
Location: 
Appleton Memorial Park, 1620 E Witzke Blvd, Appleton

Racial Justice Talking CirclesJoin members of Menīkānaehkem, the Native Justice Coalition and ESTHER in talking together about racial justice.

Update: Both events will be held at Memorial Park in Appleton.

(The similar event planned for Menīkānaehkem in Gresham on October 2 has been moved to the Appleton location due to COVID-19 restrictions on the Menominee Reservation.)

This event will be held outside, and community agreements will be in place that follow the CDC and State of Wisconsin COVID-19 safety guidelines.

Travel assistance is available. Gift cards and lunch are provided.

Please see attached agenda for more information about the event.

Please register in advance at https://www.nativejustice.org/racialjusticetalk. Attendance limited to twenty-five people each day.

Questions? sarah@nativejustice.org

Help spread the word - download and share the attached flier!

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):

The Difference between Social Justice and Charity

“ESTHER works for social justice,
but it is not a charitable organization.”

What does that mean? What is the difference between social justice work and charity work?

It is justice, not charity, that is wanting in the world. - Mary Wollstonecraft ShelleyThe famous Christmas carol “Good King Wenceslas” gives us a fine example of charity work. In the carol, King Wenceslas looks out of his window on a cold winter’s night and sees a poor man “gathering winter fuel.” The king and his page set out “through the rude wind’s wild lament and the bitter weather” to take food to the poor man. Along the way, the page becomes cold and tired, but he is revived by walking in the king’s footsteps in the snow, because “heat was in the very sod where the saint had printed.” That is to say that the king is a saint because he is so charitable. The song ends with the admonition, “Therefore, Christian men be sure, wealth or rank possessing, ye who now will bless the poor shall yourselves find blessing.”

Icon of King (Saint) WenceslasThis is a story of charity at its best, but the social justice worker says, “Wait a minute. This is all very well, but why should this man be so poor that he can eat only if the king happens to decide to help him? Why should some people starve while others live comfortably? A society in which some people starve while others live comfortably is oppressive. It is unjust, and we should work to make it more just.”

That is the difference between charity and social justice work. Charity helps people in need, but it does not question the justice of the social system we live in. Social justice work aims to change the system. There will always be a need for charity, but, to the social justice worker, it should not be a substitute for a just society, and we have a responsibility to make our society as just as possible.

ESTHER’s members work in a number of ways to make our society as just as possible. To learn more about how you can participate in ESTHER’s work, visit our web site at https://esther-foxvalley.org/issues

Equity and Racial Justice Committee Update - June 2020

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White Fragility CoverEquity and Racial Justice Committee leads ESTHER toward becoming antiracist

In an ongoing effort to make ESTHER an antiracist organization, board members are continuing our self-education by reading and discussing the book, White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, by Robin DiAngelo.

Because this topic is so important and the idea of White Fragility is so challenging, board members have divided into “e-small groups,” each meeting for three 90-minute sessions (digitally) for self-reflection and discussion. These groups are being facilitated by Jennifer Considine, chair of Oshkosh ESTHER and chair of UW-Oshkosh Communications Department; ESTHER Organizer Bill Van Lopik; and two members trained by Celebrate Diversity Fox Cities: Connie Kanitz, chair of ESTHER’s Transit Task Force, and Penny Robinson, Co-Chair of the Equity and Racial Justice Committee.

Another step in this direction is an upcoming pilot program in which three board members will participate in the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI), facilitated through Common Talks with Marijke van Roojen. This pilot is being supported financially by a special gift. The IDI is:

… a valid and reliable assessment of an individual or group’s ability to engage effectively with others across difference. The IDI is based on Milton Bennett’s Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity (DMIS) and research conducted by Mitchell Hammer. The inventory has been used successfully since 1998 in corporate, academic and other settings to focus individual coaching and action-planning, to guide multicultural team development, and to conduct program evaluation and research.

It is expected that after the results of this pilot effort are evaluated, ESTHER will be looking for additional funding to widen the availability of the IDI to all board members who would like to participate in it.

Members of the ESTHER Equity and Racial Justice Committee are Jennifer Considine, Gwen Gibson, Kathleen Gribble, David Haas, Penny Robinson, and ESTHER Organizer Bill Van Lopik. Meetings are held the third Thursday of each month, at 10:00 a.m., by Zoom.

—Penny Robinson, co-chair

Your Contribution Helps Us Share Hope

Optimism is the belief that things will get better. Hope is the belief that if we work hard enough together, we can make things better!”

—Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

Knowing the difference between optimism and hope is critical now, as we struggle to contain the surging pandemic and take down the racist systems our nation has built. The number of those infected and killed by COVID-19 continues to grow. The adverse economic impacts mount. All the while, the inequality and division in our nation – signs of what Frederick Douglass called “a virus that infects the soul” – must be challenged!

Optimism fades in the face of these challenges, but hope rises, lifted by faith in what we can do together. Sharing hope, along with building community and standing for justice, are central to ESTHER’s mission. Read more to learn about our work, and how your support can help us share hope….

Help Us Share Hope