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Raising Funds for BLCD

Last year two of us, a white Jewish woman and a white Gentile woman, each organized an event to raise funds for the 2014 RC Black Liberation and Community Development Workshop (BLCD) in England. It was an opportunity to show to our friends and families our confidence in RC and our passion for ending racism. Discharging and thinking together as we organized kept us focused on our goals.

I live in a small seaside town on the South coast of England—a few miles from Dover, the key entry port for refugees. Far-right groups have taken advantage of locals’ feelings of “injustice,” racism, and being overwhelmed. Many of my friends are enraged by the daily display of xenophobia and racism. I knew I would have a receptive group to call together.

The first thing I did was approach a Black friend and ask if he’d like to join me in introducing RC theory and practice on ending racism to our friends. He suggested I do something as a white person without reference to him. That interaction highlighted for me my dependence on him and our relationship. It was also an opportunity to face feelings about fundraising, charity, patronage, and reparation.

I decided the fundraiser would be for white people only. I also realised that it had to have creativity at the centre, to demonstrate the power of artists to effect social change.

I decided to make the documentary film Strange Fruit, along with RC theory, the centrepiece of the event. The film intertwines biography, performance footage, and the history of lynching as well as documenting a strong Black Gentile/white Jewish alliance.

The thirty white people I invited got to hear about RC and BLCD—whether or not they came to the evening. Some sent money even if they couldn’t come. Black friends were also interested to learn about the fundraiser and later borrowed the film.

The white friends who came mostly knew each other and were used to mixing socially, but never as “white people.” In the opening circle, I invited them to tell one thing about their heritage that had a bearing on ending racism, and the stories lasted for over an hour. We talked about our relationship to racism as white people who are Irish, Roma Traveller, Northern, working-class, and Jewish. We were well connected by the time we watched the film. Afterward we had a mini-session followed by a discussion of the current-day equivalent of lynching in the United Kingdom.

As important as the money raised, I learned how to create a wide-world space for white people to address ending racism. I managed to encapsulate the ways racism operates at an individual and a structural level. As a white Jew, I had to face feelings about asking Gentiles for money. Lastly, I learnt it is possible as a white person to be passionate and hopeful about ending racism and not be dismissed as politically naïve. And it was fun.

I held a fundraiser tea party for BLCD. My goals were as follows:

  • To bring together my friends to celebrate my seventieth birthday
  • To use this opportunity to raise funds for BLCD
  • To “go public” with my friends about BLCD and RC, and their importance to me in the context of ending racism

I checked out the fundraiser tea party idea with a Black friend (who had done a fundamentals class with me in the past). She enthusiastically endorsed it and said she would come. I then sent the e-mail invite below to twenty-five people:

Dear Friends,

This is an invitation to come to our house for afternoon tea and cakes to celebrate my seventieth birthday—but with a difference!

This will be a fundraiser. My “birthday present” will be your (anonymous) donation to a project that is part of a movement I am involved in and passionate about. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate being seventy years of age.

What is the project? Black Liberation and Community Development (BLCD) is a project that is part of Re-evaluation Counselling (RC), or “Co-Counselling” as it is often called. Many of you know that I have been teaching the listening tool of RC for many years. In RC people of all ages and backgrounds can learn how to exchange effective help with each other in order to free themselves from the effects of past hurtful experiences. The BLCD project involves an international network of African-heritage people who use this listening tool to free themselves from the effects of racism and other oppressions.

Why fundraising? This year’s BLCD Europe workshop will be longer than usual, with correspondingly higher costs. Fundraising is being undertaken to lower the costs for participants and thus support people to attend this important workshop.

I will explain a little more on the day. You do not have to donate to the project to come to the tea party! Would you please hit the reply button to RSVP whether you can come?

I included my bank details so people could donate online if they preferred.

The group that attended was a mix of twenty-one white, Black, and Asian men and women of all class backgrounds. I thanked them for coming to celebrate with me my seventieth year. I said that Re-evaluation Counselling is the most interesting and challenging activity in my life and an effective tool for moving us toward a world without racism and other oppressions. I told them I could not think of a better way to celebrate with them all than by getting together whilst raising funds for the BLCD workshop.

I had left out on a table the United to End Racism sheets “The Basic Theory of Re-evaluation Counselling” and “How to Begin United to End Racism (UER) Counselling Sessions.” I had stuck on the side of the fridge* a large brown envelope labeled “Donations here please!” in which people put cards and cash. The total amount of money raised online and at the event far exceeded my expectations.

I enjoyed myself! The event was fun and purposeful and had meaning for me. It was not an introduction to RC, but I showed my confidence in RC and its effectiveness by “going public” at a social event with people I had known for a long time or made friends with more recently.

The following day a Black friend unexpectedly cried while remembering the fundamentals class she had done with me fifteen years earlier and the difference it had made in her life, although she had not continued with RC. Another friend attended the BLCD workshop. A Black friend who attended the tea party interviewed me for a film he is making about how we can end racism.

CHRISTINE SHEPPARD,

Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, England:

(Present Time 182, January 2016)


* “Fridge” means refrigerator.


Last modified: 2020-07-17 20:50:52+00