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Members selected for BPFNA Working Group on Centering Black Lives

The group will work to center Black life in the organization in pursuit of racial justice and liberty for all.


March 8, 2016

In February 2016, BPFNA ~ Bautistas por la Paz formed a Working Group on Centering Black Lives in Pursuit of Racial Justice. For at least one year, the group will assist BPFNA board and staff in its work to prioritize centering Black life in the organization in pursuit of liberation for all.

The Centering Black Lives Working Group grew out of a trip in which BPFNA sent delegates to Ferguson, MO in August 2015 to participate in events surrounding the anniversary of Michael Brown’s death.

“One year ago, in February 2015, BPFNA applied for a Shield-Ayres Foundation grant to support a delegation to visit Ferguson,” said BPFNA Executive Director LeDayne McLeese Polaski. “At our Summer Conference that year, five BPFNA young adults were particularly key in planning the trip and decided that it should coincide with the anniversary of Michael Brown's death. These young adults, Alison Amyx, Kadia Edwards, Nathan Watts, Reese Rathjen, and Gretchen Honnold, became known as the Selection Committee.”

From September 2015-January 2016, the Selection Committee created an application process and selected the Working Group members. There were a total of 16 applicants, and seven were chosen for the Working Group:

Teresa Diewert
Greg Jarrell
Toussaint Liberator
Brooke Rolston
Alexis Tardy
Sydney Webster
Tremonisha West

Allison Paksoy will serve as the staff representative to the group.

“If we assume racism is built into the system, then even ‘good, progressive’ organizations like BPFNA need to examine themselves and the harm they may be causing, even if that harm is unintentional,” said Polaski. “We hope the Working Group will help us to recognize – within our programming, within our publications, within our staffing, within our entire structure – how we may be unintentionally promoting systems of white supremacy and oppression that cause harm.”

BPFNA does have a four-nation identity and seeks to respond to injustices affecting all peoples within the nations of Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the United States. While this current work is predominantly focused within the context of Black lives in the US, the intent is to “strike directly against the roots of latent white supremacy and militarism.” Black and Brown bodies are under attack globally, and these systems of oppression cause harm on the global scale. We see this work ultimately affecting all four of our member nations and beyond. The ultimate goal is to work to eradicate these systems worldwide and to achieve true liberation for all.

We would like to thank everyone who applied. We received an excellent group of applicants and would have loved for everyone to be in this group. We hope everyone feels included in the work of racial justice and we hope to work with more people in a variety of capacities who have a passion for this work.

BPFNA staff would also like to give a HUGE THANK YOU to the selection and planning committee who did the bulk of the work to make the trip to Ferguson and the working group a reality: Alison Amyx, Kadia Edwards, Gretchen Honnold, Reese Rathjen, and Nathan Watts.

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