At NewGround, we make space for hard conversations on a backdrop of empathy and relationship. NewGround was founded because people were unequipped to engage in difficult conversations, and were walking away from their relationships. This is why, rather than making statements, we convene so that our people can broach these topics bravely. We’ve already been engaging in these conversations within our fellowship cohorts, and we are committed to getting better at it.
Over the past decade, we’ve learned from convening Muslims and Jews that it can be especially difficult to have conversations among our own people. As such, this is an important time to address the racisms that exist in our communities, and to nurture our capacity to have these complicated conversations within our communities and with our families.
Our Change-makers have been doing this very work, and we are dedicating this newsletter to their voices and their efforts. We hope you’ll take time to read their perspectives below.
Our alumni have been active in continuing important conversations around race in the United States, through online thought leadership as well as through facilitation. NewGround alum Nate Looney, JOC Recruiter for Avodah, recently wrote a timely and moving piece for Medium, in which he discusses many of the challenges and dilemmas he faces as a Jew of Color. Fellowship alumnus Reza Bavar also recently published a piece on Medium, detailing his journey of deep listening, which started him off in one place and ended up taking him to another. You can read both Nate’s important analysis and Reza’s reflection on Medium.
Sultan Sharrief, filmmaker and NewGround alum, was at the premiere protests in Santa Monica. Here, he recounts negotiations between the protesters and the Santa Monica police, and the occurrence of subsequent arrests; he also shares his own family story. This elaborate, first person account may give you some perspective on a variety of active elements floating around on the ground that day.
On June 12th, Umar Hakim, NewGround alum and Executive Director of the ILM Foundation, was the emcee of L.A. Voice’s interfaith gathering on racial equity and action. The event featured the powerful words of Bishop William Barber and Rev. Angel Kyoto Williams, and many others including other friends of NewGround.