Listen, Dialogue, Take Action! Diving into History to End Racism Today
More than 200 community members attended the first It’s Time to Act forum on Dec. 4. The event’s theme was “Systemic Racism: Identifying and Dismantling It,” and it featured the award-winning scholar and writer, Dr. Nell Irvin Painter, who spoke to how knowing the history of race can inform how we take steps to eliminate racism today.
Dr. Painter, author of “The History of White People,” gave a brief lesson on how race came into existence and how values and characteristics began to be assigned to each race. “Nobody has ever agreed on how many races there are and how to measure that,” said Dr. Painter. Because after all, race is a completely human-created concept. Dr. Painter discussed the importance of understanding our history as a tool to understanding why inequitable social constructs exist today.
After the lecture, participants moved into dialogue. Facilitators guided conversations about what was challenging or resonating about Dr. Painter’s talk and how participants see their own roles in deconstructing racism. Participants had time to create a strategy for taking measurable steps toward positive change in their own lives and communities.
The next forum will take place Tuesday, Feb. 5 and will feature Dr. Robin DiAngelo whose work on white fragility has influenced the national dialogue on race and been featured or cited in Salon, NPR, PBS, The New York Times and The New Yorker.