Archive for : Civil Rights

Making MLK Day a Weekend On, Not a Day Off

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?’”

This weekend become part of the living legacy of Dr. King by turning your kitchen table into a table of brotherhood. Join Repair the WorldPoints of Light and the Corporation for National & Community Service in a MLK Shabbat Supper, Sunday Supper and service project near you!
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We Need To Talk…

blackhistorytalk

We’ve been raised to be risk averse, which means being extremely wary of topics that might be offensive – or that make people uncomfortable. But without the risk that comes from a real, honest discourse about the things that matter – like education inequality, or history, or poverty – there can be no real change. When we talk about a lot of these things, we’re often talking about entire webs of “tough stuff”: race, class, institutions, or even ourselves. So it’s important to get real, and to get talking.

In honor of Black History Month, I want to talk about race. And while we’re being honest, what I want even more is for you to talk about race – because talking is how we learn, and learning is the foundation for action (please don’t run away!).

For our Shabbat Suppers project, we put together an easy guide to tackle a tough topic. When you’re ready to show off your gift of gab, here are some key pointers for how to have a respectful discussion about race:

  • Acknowledge that race might be uncomfortable to talk about (woo hoo – one down!). It’s sort of the elephant in the room, but in many cases, it helps to say out loud what others are feeling.
  • Set group ground rules. Collectively, decide on a set of rules for your discussion – even if it’s with your mom, or your best friend. These could be formal, such as “whoever holds the spoon speaks,” or “if you agree, wave jazz hands.” These rules could also be more informal, including “whatever is said in this room, stays in this room.”
  • Everyone speaks from their own perspective. Please do not look to people of different backgrounds to speak on behalf of their race, gender, or ethnicity. Individuals can only speak to their own experiences, and it puts unfair pressure on a person to ask him or her to represent their cultural identity.

You might find that people have never talked open and honestly about race before, and you might have an opportunity to really educate your friends and family members about the many misperceptions about race and racism. Here is a list of the most common, and how to handle them if (and when) they come your way:

  • “Race is a fact of life.” Race is actually a completely artificial social construct. No genetic, personality, or intellectual differences exist between people of different races. Explain that race was invented to classify people.
  • “I’m not racist!” While most people harbor very little ill-will towards people of other races, they may continue to make assumptions about others based on race. That includes you…and me…and everyone we know. In order to combat racism and tackle misperceptions, we first have to acknowledge that we are all somewhere on a spectrum of racial prejudice. Once you take the guilt out of the word, you can have an open conversation about the issue. Acknowledge the reality of racism as a spectrum, not as a dirty word.
  • “We live in a post-racial society.” Racism is still virulent in America, and all over the world. While our generation has a more open mind about race and inequality, racism is still a defining part of the American experience.

But what should you do if a conversation about race becomes really uncomfortable? Like people are beginning to yell. Or cry. Or they just have that look that says “get me out of here.” All is not lost!! What to do when disagreement arises:

  • Avoid “right” and “wrong”: While some opinions are commonly accepted as “right,” it is unproductive to cast someone’s statements or beliefs as “wrong.”
  • If you’re offended, educate – don’t blame. Ignorance is not animosity. Use “I feel” (it’s less accusatory) to discuss how their statement might be perceived, or how it was perceived by you personally.
  • Try not to use charged language such as “bigot” or “racist”: If someone says something offensive, assume that they simply do not realize that they have said something hurtful. Calling them a racist is one surefire way to make the situation a lot worse. Use the opportunity to educate.
  • Provide context. Even though it’s difficult, try to explain why you believe what you believe. Provide examples, facts, and stories to illuminate your opinions, and encourage others to do the same.

Still terrified? Watch this awesome TED talk by Jay Smooth about how he learned to love race, and get PUMPED!

It’s not too late to live the legacy! Sign up for MLK Shabbat Supper today

MLK Suppers

From Washington State to Washington Heights, we’ve been blown away by the response to our Shabbat Suppers initiative.

In case you haven’t heard it through the grapevine, Repair the World is partnering with Points of Light, NEXT: A Division of Birthright Israel Foundation, and hosts just like you to bring the issue of education inequality to the table. Your kitchen table, that is.

By signing up to host a Shabbat Supper, you won’t just be inviting your friends over for a great meal. You’ll be hosting a conversation around the legacy of Dr. King, education inequality, and how you can take action to make your community a better place.

And we’re here to help you make it happen with our toolkit to guide you through the discussion! Be sure to sign-up by 12pm Eastern on Wednesday, January 16th to receive your toolkit via snail mail.

Even if you miss the deadline, you can receive a digital toolkit which contains two discussion activities, and an access code to screen the fabulous documentary Brooklyn Castle (before it comes out on DVD!) by emailing [email protected]!

Make a Difference Without Leaving Your Living Room!

MLK SuppersBeyond posting an inspirational quote on facebook, when was the last time you did something meaningful on MLK Day?

We know you’re busy. And we know that your three-day weekend is sacred (and that you probably deserve the break!). But did you know that for over 15 years, MLK Day has been celebrated as a day of service by millions of Americans? Here at Repair, our team has partnered with NEXT: A Division of Birthright Israel Foundation, and with one of the organizations who pioneered the MLK Day of Service, the Points of Light Institute, to offer you a way to join the movement from the comfort of your own home!

MLK SHABBAT SUPPERS. JANUARY 18th. YOUR PLACE.

Repair is challenging you to become part of the living legacy of Dr. King by turning your kitchen table into a table of brotherhood the weekend of January 18th. Through our Shabbat Suppers initiative, you will be sent the tools to transform Friday night with friends into an opportunity for social action.

It’s ok if you’ve never held a Shabbat dinner. We know that not everyone “does” Shabbat. But you’ve gotta eat! Use this event, and this toolkit, as a foundation for a meaningful meal – whatever that means to you.

Shabbat Suppers will take many forms. They might be talks over take-out Chinese or screening parties with your friends from college. Some folks will have sit-down brisket dinners with friends of different faiths, and others will have potluck style meals in tiny apartments. At all of these events, food might get your guests in the door, but it’s the discussion will bring you together.

A SUPER COOL KIT…

On this year’s plate (we couldn’t help ourselves…) is of the defining civil rights issues of our time: education inequality. Once you sign-up as a host, Repair will send you a real, live toolkit via snail mail. These toolkits will contain a discussion guide, Repair swag for your guests, and a T-shirt as a thank you (just for you)!

Our discussion guide bears absolutely no resemblance to your AP Government textbook. Instead, it offers simple questions, real facts, and easy to enforce ground rules so that you can host a dynamic (and respectful) conversation around education and the legacy of Dr. King.

We want to arm you with the facts, and the tools to act on them. In honor of the MLK Day of Service, you will also receive information on how you can make a difference in the lives of public school children all over the country!

JOIN US!

Excited? Sign-up HERE to become a host, and we’ll send you a toolkit for free!

And there’s more exciting news for Birthright Israel alumni! Through our friends at NEXT, you can receive funding for your Shabbat Supper through the NEXT Shabbat program. Register your meal, and you will be able to click a box to receive our free toolkit.

As always, we want to hear you from you! Tell us about your Shabbat Supper plans, or send us a question, by emailing [email protected]

Modern Day Passover Heroes: Aaron

Each year during the Passover seders, we recite the ages-old story of the Jews’ exodus from ancient Egypt – a tale which can seem far removed from our lives today. But each year, we also have the opportunity to breathe new life into the story as we join together to put ourselves in our ancestors’ shoes, and make connections that help bring the story closer to our own reality.

In recent years, modern adaptations of the Ten Plagues have been created, additions (like oranges and olives) have been added to the seder plate and tons of versions of the classic Maxwell House Haggadah have been written. The Exodus story has provided endless inspiration. But what about the story’s main characters?

Some serious game changers starred in the epic story of Passover, and we think they deserve some attention. So this year, Repair the World decided to have a little fun and explore modern day heroes – today’s leaders who work tirelessly on behalf of others and tikkun olam – and see how they remind us of Moses, Miriam, and Aaron.

Last but not least: Aaron.
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Modern Day Passover Heroes: Miriam

Each year during the Passover seders, we recite the ages-old story of the Jews’ exodus from ancient Egypt – a tale which can seem far removed from our lives today. But each year, we also have the opportunity to breathe new life into the story as we join together to put ourselves in our ancestors’ shoes, and make connections that help bring the story closer to our own reality.

In recent years, modern adaptations of the Ten Plagues have been created, additions (like oranges and olives) have been added to the seder plate and tons of versions of the classic Maxwell House Haggadah have been written. The Exodus story has provided endless inspiration. But what about the story’s main characters?

Some serious game changers starred in the epic story of Passover, and we think they deserve some attention. So this year, Repair the World decided to have a little fun and explore modern day heroes – today’s leaders who work tirelessly on behalf of others and tikkun olam – and see how they remind us of Moses, Miriam, and Aaron.

Next up: Miriam.
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