Quakers to host slavery talk

15th Street Friends (Quaker) Meeting House, NYC

The local Quaker Peace Committee will host our next Coming to the Table (CTTT) meeting on Saturday, June 6 at their Friends House in Union Square area. As the Co-Leader with Julie Finch of CTTT NYC-Metro, I am pleased to extend an invitation to newcomers to learn more about our mission.

Background: “Coming to the Table provides leadership, resources and supportive environment for all who wish to acknowledge and heal wounds from racism that is rooted in the United States and Transatlantic Trade’s history of slavery.”

What: CTTT-NYC Brown Bag lunch talk on Slavery, Racism, Genealogy

When: Saturday, June 6, 11:30am-3:30 pm.

Where: 15th Street Friends (Quaker) Meeting House, Room 3. 15 Rutherford Place, New York, NY 10003 (Union Square area) between 15th & 16th streets,Third & Second Avenues.


(Note: This is a two-part meet-up. The first hour+, we will welcome newcomers and long-time CTTT members. Then later we re-assemble to share stories using the Coming to the Table ‘Circle Process’ and ‘Touchstones’ principles for a ‘deep dialogue’ session. Please read about our Coming to the Table approach to meetings. Check the website, click on Resources and Guides.)

11:30am-12:45pm – (public) Welcome & CTTT overview, Q & A, local CTTT member introductions, ‘meet & greet,’ and enjoy a ‘brown bag’ lunch. Beverage and light snacks will be available.

We are reaching out to the NYC-Metro community to offer CTTT resources on healing racism. We hope to recruit a volunteer committee to help us build relationships with like-minded people to book guest speakers, coordinate outings to film, galleries, museum, libraries, lead local historic street tours, host book discussions and more.

1pm-3:30pm– This second part of the gathering will be conducted using “Circle Process” and “Touchstone” principles. We will engage on the primary mission: “Personal stories about the nature of our fraught connections to slavery and racism in this country.” This closed session is intended to contribute to healing.

If you are actively engaged in family research, genealogy; can share personal experiences with racial traumas; and are engaged in CTTT mission in concrete ways, we invite you to stay for this session.

Once we have settled on who will stay, we will take a small break (5-10 minutes). We will re-assemble into a circle to begin the “Circle Process.” The two co-leaders (me and Julie) will begin the process. Then, each person will take a turn for 5-8 minutes (depending on how many people are there) to share a personal story related to the “aftermath, traumas of slavery.” You may also share why you are interested or how you became involved with CTTT.

view from steps of Quaker House
view from steps of Quaker House

What to bring: We will use a ‘talking stick’ or ‘talking stones,’ as developed by Native American traditions for serious, deep talks. If possible, participants are encouraged to bring family documents, photos, news clips and other items to ‘show and tell’ about their family story, research journey, and personal experience related to the “aftermath, trauma of slavery.’

I may bring a news clip about my uncle’s lynching in Mississippi. In the past, participants shared documents of slave ownership in their own families. Others have shared a wide range of topics from Great Migration photos, Census papers, stories about domestic workers, sharecroppers, survivors of police harassment and brutality, workplace, housing racism, experience with White and light-skinned privilege, to samples of traditional food from slavery times.

We offer genealogy help, such as tips for finding slavery records in your family or community documents, and guidance on what to do with such documents. Because of the serious nature of our topics, we must respect people’s trust issues and our concern for providing a ‘safe place’ for our talks. Therefore, we cannot allow ‘observers’ or ‘listeners.’ We want to protect our participants from ‘spies’ who just want to hear private, family, traumatic, personal racism stories. These gatherings can become very emotional and are intended to help people.

Our long-time CTTT group is an eclectic mix of clergy, social workers, teachers, journalists, photographers, bakers, actors, descendants of Thomas Jefferson, and more. Photos are allowed at the beginning and end of our sessions. We look forward to meeting you. Please RSVP to Julie at: parkerhead@earthlink.net or call 917-613-3788.


Slavery, genealogy meetings

The 'circle process' is utilized for Coming to the Table's 'deep dialogues' about slavery, racism, and genealogy.
The ‘circle process’ is utilized for Coming to the Table’s ‘deep dialogues’ about slavery, racism, and genealogy.

Slavery, genealogy, race, family legacy, white privilege and healing will be among the central topics discussed at the Coming to the Table (CTTT)-New York City Metro Chapter meetings.

As co-leader with Julie Finch of the CTTT-NYC Metro Chapter, I am extending an invitation to my friends and readers of my blog to attend our upcoming meetings. The next meeting is set for Saturday, April 11, noon-4pm. We hope to recruit new CTTT members and hold public meetings every two months. Our meetings are free.

Gather together with like-minded folks interested in the Mission and Vision of Coming to the Table. Share stories, build friendships, and help us plan future meetings together. As is our tradition, we usually eat a small meal together in a gathering of multi-racial people.

Many in our group have done extensive research and can identify and document their family’s involvement with slavery—either as a descendant of former en-slavers, formerly enslaved persons or both categories. I am a descendant of both! Some of us are expert genealogists and can assist you with your family search. Some of our white members have already attended family reunions with their ‘new-found’ African American linked-ancestors! Our members include descendants of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, Pocahontas, American Revolution and Civil War veterans and more.

For deep sharing, please review Touchstones prior to the meeting. We use the Circle Process for at least part of our time together. So, please review our circle process that is based on Native American tradition, sometimes with a talking stick or stone, for deep dialogue.
Coming to the Table provides leadership, resources, and a supportive environment for all who wish to acknowledge and heal wounds from racism that is rooted in the United States’ history of slavery, a major part of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.

Our approach to achieving our vision and mission involves four interrelated practices: 1. Uncovering History: researching, acknowledging, and sharing personal, family and community histories of race with openness and honesty. 2. Making Connections: connecting to others within and across racial lines in order to develop and deepen relationships. 3. Working Toward Healing: exploring how we can heal together through dialogue, reunion, ritual, ceremony, the arts, apology and other methods. 4. Taking Action: actively seeking to heal the wounds of racial inequality and injustice and to support racial reconciliation between individuals, within families, and in communities.

To learn more, and to RSVP, click here!
We’ll send info about the location (in Manhattan) to those who RSVP. We look forward to a wonderful afternoon together.

For more information send Email: office@comingtothetable.org
Phone: 1-877-540-CTTT (2888)
Toward peace!

Turks & Caicos memories

Turks & Caicos is where I go to unwind and un-plug. “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” – Audre Lorde

Spending time at the beach is my way of caring for myself. Here are photos from a recent trip to Turks & Caicos, a favorite getaway. Usually, my husband and I wake up early, have breakfast, and stroll along the shore. Later, we find a beach lounge chair and settle in. We live a very busy New York City life. So, this is one of our ways to relax. We breathe the sea air, lay in the sun, listen to the waves and gaze at the beautiful turquois Grace Bay. Sometimes we sit in the shade by the pool. We eat the local Caribbean Creole food and drink island beer. It’s a very simple life, if only for a few weeks.
We always visit our friend Amy, who lives there. I take a taxi to a nearby hotel and we meet-up for an outdoor yoga class. Afterwards, we pick up my husband and head back to her house where she cooks us lunch. Most days end by looking at the sunset while eating dinner.

Audience development

"On Kentucky Avenue" at City College Center for the Arts
Audience development: “On Kentucky Avenue,” a musical tribute to Club Harlem of Atlantic City.


Audience development can be seen in show business, politics, and the Civil Rights movement. How do you get people to show up, vote or march? Marketing experts are now re-examining how they use this important communications strategy.

I was intrigued by the experience of co-producing “On Kentucky Avenue,” a musical tribute to Club Harlem of Atlantic City, because of my family’s show business history. Several generations of my family performed and attended shows there. But, as a communications professional, I know from managing campaigns that it is all about that sweet spot where journalism, public relations and marketing intersect. The audience response is proof of the pudding.

Our event was very successful. Tickets to each performance were sold-out. Venue management had to add additional seating for the last show. Our exit video interviews revealed happy, joyful experiences. That’s what successful audience development looks like.

What’s next? Finding this audience gave us some insights about how to prolong and sustain this Black-oriented 60’s musical. Thankfully, social media research has taken audience development to new heights. Research provides a variety of ways to identify, reach your audience and set strategy. Analytics can prove what was done and leverage projections for future events. But, in the final analysis, we must rely upon old-fashioned “word-of-mouth” marketing, the original social media platform.

One writer used a ‘sale’ sign to explain audience development. “Audience development is simply this: attracting diverse people at scale toward a social object. By inviting them in via a unit of compellation (in my example, it’s the “SALE” sign), a variety of people with a variety of interests are courted and willingly corralled.”
Click here to read more.

How will you use audience development in your next event or campaign?
(Photos by Vivian Lee)

Chinese New Years 2015

Cookie & Aunt DotMy Chinese family

Chinatown Tea Parlor
Happy Chinese New Year 2015! I am honored to acknowledge my Chinese ancestors who migrated from China to Trinidad and Guyana in the British West Indies as indentured workers. After the abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, workers from China and India were engaged to replace the enslaved Africans. To learn more about this hidden Caribbean and Asian history, I recommend two amazing texts: Indentured Labor, Caribbean Sugar: Chinese and Indian Migrants to the British West Indies, 1838-1918 by Walton Look Lai, (John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London, 1993); and The Coolie Speaks: Chinese Indentured Laborers and African Slaves in Cuba, by Lisa Yun, (Temple University Press,2008).

My Chinese Trinidadian maternal grandmother taught me many of her traditions — from Buddhism, cooking, gardening, palmistry, face reading also known as physiognomy to astrology. I was born in the year of the Dragon, considered the most powerful and lucky signs in the zodiac. I learned from an early age about all of the Chinese astrological animals.

This is the year of the Goat. Celebrate if your birth year is listed here: 1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, or 2015. Your lucky colors are brown, red and purple. Lucky numbers are 2 and 7. Your lucky flowers are carnations and primrose. In Chinese astrology, goats are very different from Western Capricorn goats. Chinese goats are delicate thinkers, creative and love team activities. To learn more, click here.

Although it’s not a national holiday, New Yorkers will celebrate big time with a parade in NYC Chinatown, Sunday, February 22, 1-3pm. Please join me!
Here’s link.

How do you celebrate Chinese New Years?