"Fit for Freedom, Not for Friendship"
Vanessa is co-authoring a book with a New England Friend, Donna McDaniel. The working title of the book is, “Fit for Freedom, Not for Friendship.” It will focus on the relationship of Quakers of European descent and African Americans in North America from pre-colonial times to the present. Their research has revealed surprising, perhaps to some jarring, levels of ambivalence and ambiguity in Friends' relationships with African Americans throughout their history. Vanessa and Donna believe Friends in the United States and Canada today will see their own thoughts and struggles reflected in those who have preceded us. The book will reach for the truth about North American Friends who, even as they strongly advocated for the freedom and education of enslaved African Americans, were reluctant to invite African Americans into membership in their own Society. The intention of the book is to offer Friends who struggle with the concern about North America Friends' lack of racial and ethnic diversity some insight into how it is to be an African American who visits, becomes acquainted with, and eventually applies for membership in a Friends meeting in the United States and Canada. The research for the work, to be published by Quaker Press of Friends General Conference (FGC), is under the care of FGC's Committee for Ministry on Racism, Religious Education and Publications Committees.
In July and August 2004, Donna and Vanessa gave presentations at both Baltimore and New England Yearly Meetings revealing some of their findings from their three years of research for "Fit for Freedom, Not for Friendship." You can view the text of their address by clicking the link below:
Vanessa received a 2005 Art and Change Grant from The Leeway Foundation to provide some financial support her while she works on the book.