Friday, November 26, 2010

Continue the Conversations on Race Event

In October, I attended St. Cloud's 5th Annual Conversation on Race Through Create CommUNITY. Create CommUNITY is an initiative that began by Mayor Larry Meyer and various leaders in the community to discuss how to address growing racial diversity in the community. The mission is to provide a welcoming, nondiscriminatory environment with respect and opportunity for all. The event focuses on challenging racism in our lives and communities thorugh interaction, education and dialogue.

Starting with a vignette illustrating a common occurence by people of color in a shopping mall, the audience shared observations about what occurred and calling attention to unintended, racist interaction. A presentation from Dr. Heather Hackman, Associate Professor in the Department of Human Relations and Multicultural Education at St. Cloud State University followed. Her presentation centered around white privilege. White privilege, defined by Dr. Hackman, is the system of advantages and benefits that white folks receive as a result of whiteness and racism in our society. Whiteness is the overwhelming presence of white centrality, white normatively, white privilege and white supremacy in our society.

While it's very difficult to accept the realities of white privilege as being a white person myself, the illustrations through the vignette and discussion that followed really brought this tough reality to the surface.

For more informationa about the topic of white privilege, check out the book, "Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" by Peg McIntosh.

Kathy Grochow, NRS, St. Cloud

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