Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Meet Up from Sat. Aug 1st in Selinsgrove

The Meet Up in Selinsgrove was a start at looking at what tools we have to address the injustices of racism and the challenges we face in talking about racism in Central PA.

Challenges:
The perspective that 'We don't have a problem with racism'
People think racism does not affect them
Getting non-white perspectives
Talking to white people about racism
People are afraid to speak up
We are ashamed to talk about racism and afraid to talk about our feelings of shame
Reaching people who 'are not the choir'
Support for the work of addressing racism

Tools:
Undoing Racism         
Socrates Cafe
Reading Clubs
Civic action
The United Way:
-has a Diversity and Inclusion Council- is looking for diverse members
-and a Diversity Blog to share stories- good and bad about diversity in the Valley 

Many people have approached me and asked me to not talk about racism- to focus on other issues like poverty, 'new conservative' streams of consciousness, LGBT rights, prison initiatives, or to look at all oppression as one- but that is not going to help the growing numbers in our communities who are affected by racism every day- who die, are sent to prison, and ultimately live a shorter life due to the stress of living in an aggressive environment.

Equally important is the knowledge that racism is not a conservative vs. liberal phenomenon- we all have grown in a similar culture in this respect, and I can tell you, through my conversations and experiences here in PA that people of all persuasions care very much, and we are all challenged by talking about racism.

Can we ask ourselves, "Who are we?," "Who do we want to be?" and "How do we contribute to our national creed and struggle for equality and justice for all?"

The first challenge is 'the conversation' which starts with "I am not racist". We all react this way, it seems, but if we can push a little further we will start to see that we are.  Let's talk about it. I want to assure you that racism is a problem we need to solve in Central PA, and that the first step is to simply talk about it.

Racism- a power element or structure that favors one race over another. 
Structural Racism- community or societal structures that favor one race
White Privilege-  benefits for 'white' people in societies that favor white complexions
Discrimination- consideration of others based on group identity rather than individual merit
Bigotry- intolerance toward those who have different opinions than oneself 

"Focusing on people as causes of evil then exonerates social structures and political decision making for contributing to underlying conditions that foster evil:
poverty, racism, sexism and elitism."-Philip Zimbardo