Saturday, October 25, 2014

10th Annual Summit on Racism Returns to Create More Change

Well, well. Autumn is here, and I am not unaffected. I feel it every year: a sense of calm and reflection, a need to create and grow. To me, there is something remarkable about the season. In fall, the world is grave and magnetic. Leaves open up in new colors, the air vibrates in golden hues, and I am reminded that all of life ebbs and flows. As trees change and shed off the year's weight, so, too, do I. And though many see death in falling leaves (along with the impending doom of winter!), I see the epitome of life. I see time to reassess and begin. A foundation that will break down and create life. I see a chance to grow.

And so, what a phenomenal time to welcome in the 10th annual Summit on Racism! Since 2004, the Summit on Racism has been bringing together caring people from our community who are invested in creating change and eliminating racism in Kalamazoo. This invaluable venue has created space for different community members and organizations to share ideas and pool resources in order to better fight and eradicate institutional racism by taking action, and this year we're continuing the fight.

The Summit on Racism's theme this year is "Empowering ourselves to Transform our Community." We will be looking at ways of addressing racism in our own homes, our schools and in our places of employment. This year's program will feature a panel of representatives from The Whirlpool Corporation, Community Mental Health of Kalamazoo, Open Doors, and the Summit Education Committee--a group that sprang from last years Summit on Racism which has found some success toward creating change in the education systems in Kalamazoo. After the panel discusses how their organizations have successfully implemented racial equity initiatives in their institutions, Summit community members will divide into action network groups to hold a dialogue on racism and develop action steps to reach attainable goals for eliminating racism at home, at school and at work.

The Goals of the 2014 Summit on Racism are:
1. To introduce models of transformation at home, at school, and at work.
2. To continue the community dialogue about race and race relations
3. To generate action steps toward a more just and equitable society.

The Role of Kalamazoo’s Summit on Racism is to:
  • Challenge White Privilege by acknowledging how racism based on mainstream privilege works and to eliminate institutional structures and social practices that thwart equality, equity, and justice for all.
  • Focus on Racism by addressing racism in any proposed community solution to a problem
  • Promote Cultural Competence by fostering general cultural competence among and between groups, and to replace white privilege with multiculturalism as the dominant paradigm.
  • Eliminate Institutional Racism by focusing on changing systems that perpetrate racism.
  • Take Direct Action by engaging in action-oriented initiatives via research or study.

Brought to you by The Racial Healing Initiative of the Southwest Michigan Black Heritage Society, in collaboration with the YWCA of Kalamazoo, the Michigan Department of Civil Rights and the Kalamazoo Valley Museum, the Fair Housing Center of Kalamazoo, the Community Action Agency, and media sponsor WMUK, the Summit on Racism: Empowering Ourselves to Transform our Community will be held on:

Friday, November 14, 2014, from 7:30 am-Noon at the 
YWCA of Kalamazoo. 
353 E. Michigan 
The event is free and open to the public!

Please join us this year to participate in the dialogue, make connections and develop action plans for eliminating racism. To RSVP, please contact us here at the SMBHS via email: or phone: 269.381.9775