Today, I had the pleasure of attending a Community Conversation on Elevating Our Discussion on Racism at the local library. What a wonderful opportunity to learn from various perspectives and come away with actions to impact change and acceptance.
Although the event was held midday, the room was at capacity. The conversation was moderated by Kevin Knight, President and Founder of K. Group. The panelists consisted of the following individuals.
- Congressman Jim Himes, U.S. House of Representatives
- Senator Marilyn Moore, Deputy President Pro Temper, Connecticut State Senate
- Rev. Dr. Lindsay Curtis, Pasor, Grace Baptist Church
- Dr. Laura Skandera Trombley, President, University of Bridgeport
- Eloisa Melendez, Member, Norwalk City Council
- Steve Ginsburg, Regional Director, Connecticut Anti-Defamation League (ADL)
- Austin McCord, CEO, Datto
- Tim Hodges, V.P. Government Relations and Community Development, People's United Bank
- Rev. Dr. Richard Wesley Clark, Pastor, Bethel AME Church, Norwalk
- Alicia Strong, Executive Director, CAIR-CT
As you can see, it was an impressive list of folks ready to discuss race in our country. Two reasons caused me to attend this event. One, I'm interested in any opportunity to further educate myself on diversity and inclusion from a professional standpoint. Secondly, as a mother, I'm saddened by the state of race relations. When I read what's happening, it concerns me and I want to be well informed about my surroundings and be a part of the conversation where I can create change. Clearly a lot of other people felt the same way as the audience was highly engaged and impassioned.
The key messages were around leadership from the varying perspectives. The panel answered prompted questions on how to handle hate, bigotry, etc. Some ideas shared were around checking your assumptions (they aren't necessarily correct), assume positive intent instead of calling someone out as a racist (get curious and answer questions as they seek information from lack of understanding and exposure), embrace education, etc. The session was scheduled for 90 minutes but could clearly be a full day session. There was a clear appetite for additional conversations.
Key takeaways included:
- Be mindful of taking advantage to educate yourself and your family during your dinner conversation. It's an opportunity to get to know your family on a very different level. These insights allow you to bring that curiosity outside the home and get to know others. The Anti-Defamation League has table talks available to facilitate the conversation with prompts.
- Implicit Bias was referenced several times. To find out where you stand, check the website implicit.harvard.edu.
- An audience member shared the following book recommendations for better understanding of white privilege.
- Stand from the Beginning (history of racism in our country)
- Complicity (how we all benefitted from slavery)
- Waking up White
- Local coalitions exist to get involved. Click here to review a guide of the organizations focused on racial equity.
I would encourage you to engage in sessions like this if you have the opportunity to do so. The only way there will be change is to get involved and be a part of the conversation. Let your voice be heard.