Pizza & Social Justice: From Glen Ellyn potlucks to incorporation

  • First meeting of Pizza & Social Justice at St. Mark's Episcopal with Nancy McKee (left), facilitating, with Nancy Hopkins, assisting.

    First meeting of Pizza & Social Justice at St. Mark's Episcopal with Nancy McKee (left), facilitating, with Nancy Hopkins, assisting. Courtesy of Adrian McKee

 
 
Updated 1/10/2022 2:01 PM

Pizza & Social Justice, conceived around a local couple's dining table, is now incorporated as an Illinois 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization under IRS rules.

In 2012, Adrian and Nancy McKee began inviting a few friends to their home for Saturday potluck dinners, fellowship, and conversations about current events.

 

Viral videos of police killings of people of color, civil unrest, and an upsurge in toxic rhetoric led to recurring questions:

• How did we come to this?

• How can we replace divisiveness with unity?

• What are the roots of racial inequality and injustice in the U.S.?

• Why do some believe racial inequity still exists here while others don't?

By 2017, Saturday potlucks were traded for Friday delivered pizza (thus the name).

The purpose: To learn about and discuss racial injustice in a safe, judgement-free, and -- most important -- nonpartisan environment using a simple format:

• Pizza;

• Introductions and discussion guidelines;

• A short video to frame the discussion;

• Candid conversation about issues the video raised.

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In 2018, P&SJ hosted a screening of "The Long Shadow," a documentary by filmmaker Frances Causey. The film, which traces slavery's legacy, white privilege, and white supremacy from a historical perspective, served as a catalyst for deeper ongoing conversations.

A larger group (including a self-proclaimed "recovering racist") began meeting monthly, on the first and third Tuesdays, at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Glen Ellyn. Sixty-plus "regulars" now constitute almost 200 email contacts to date. A well-curated website (www.pizzaandsocialjustice.org) has added instructions on starting a "Do-It-Yourself" P&SJ for individuals and organizations seeking to lean into this difficult subject matter.

When COVID-19 descended like … well … a plague in early 2020, meetings pivoted to an online platform. In keeping with current CDC guidelines, in-person gatherings -- and pizza -- are suspended until further notice. Two things, however, have not changed. One is the mission: "To educate the community to become more aware of the biases, racial attitudes (and) unconscious privilege that we come into contact with and are a part of; foster and strengthen relationships between diverse members of the community; and network and provide support to other organizations with similar goals."

The other is P&SJ's open invitation: "Come for the pizza. Stay for the conversation."

Visit www.pizzaandsocialjustice.org or www.facebook.com/groups/Pizza.and.Social.Justice.

Donation and general inquiries at psjustice18@gmail.com.

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