Monday, January 26, 2015
"Ugly pockets of conscious bigotry remain in this country, but most discrimination is more insidious. The urge to find and call out the bigot is powerful, and doing so is satisfying. But it is also a way to let ourselves off the hook. Rather than point fingers outward, we should look inward — and examine how, despite best intentions, we discriminate in ways big and small."
Happy Monday, Kalamazoo. It's a brisk and chilly, chilly day out there! However, the sun is shining, I'm drinking my favorite cup of coffee in town, and all is well. Our Lunchtime Film Showing of "Race--The Power of an Illusion" went well on Thursday. A thanks to all who came out. We had around 35 community members join us for the showing and participate in the dialogue. If you were unable to come, no worries! The Racial Healing Initiative has more conversations coming. Co-sponsored with the Kalamazoo Valley Office of Student Activities and Diversity and Inclusion Committee, we've got four chats scheduled.
Posted by B at 6:23 AM
Monday, January 19, 2015
Race--The Power of an Illusion
Thursday, January 22
Kalamazoo Valley Museum
Free and open to the public!
Looking for growth? Looking for a chance to connect? Looking for a place to eat your lunch among good company while having a stimulating dialogue about issues that affect you and your community? Well, look no further!
Please join us this Thursday, January 22 at Noon at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum, for a free film showing followed by a facilitated discussion. Presented by the Racial Healing Initiative of the Southwest Michigan Black Heritage Society and Kalamazoo Valley Community College's Arcadia Campus Committee for Cultural Understanding, we will be showing a segment of the three-part film "Race--The Power of an Illusion," a compelling and influential documentary that questions the idea of race as a reality.
The film explores the ways that race has been built up and how it has shaped the way we related to ourselves and each other. The documentary shows us that although race is only a social construct, it is a very real system and foundation on which our society has been structured and built. And the consequences of this imagined identifier have been catastrophic for our humanness on a whole--wounding and damaging our humanity in the lingering legacy of centuries of oppression and cruelty. As a social construct, race still exists as the foundation for discrimination and oppression, giving white populations more freedom and access to resources and opportunities, while creating incredible barriers to attaining these same resources for folks of color.
As we reflect on the film together, we'll be asked to think about race and racism in ways that go beyond individual stereotypes and prejudices, and address the systems, policies and procedures that allow oppression and disparities to thrive between people of different skin colors.
Until Thursday, check out the website, where you can explore some of these ideas and analysis about race before the showing. The PBS site for "The Power of an Illusion" is a very interactive site where you can look at definitions of race, discover how race is a social construct and not a genetic code, see how people are sorted into races (rightly or wrongly), view the variety of shared traits such as skin and blood type between races, explore a timeline of how American ideas of race have changed over time based on shifting political priorities and much, much more. I highly recommend taking a look at this resource.
See you there!
Posted by B at 12:45 PM
Monday, January 5, 2015
“Why fear? The stuff of my being is matter, ever changing, ever moving, but never lost; so what need of denominations and creeds to deny myself the comfort of all my fellow men? The wide belt of the universe has no need for finger-rings. I am one with the infinite and need no other assurance.”
Okay, okay, I'll be honest. I haven't read it yet. But, geeze! It sure does look good!
This month for our Racial Healing Book Club meeting, we will be reading and discussing Zora Neale Hurston's well-loved autobiography "Dust Tracks on a Road." First published in 1942, at the peak of her popularity, this book chronicles Hurston's childhood of poverty in the rural South on to her success as one of the most prominent artists of the Harlem Renaissance. Renowned for her wit, wisdom and audacity, Hurston is routinely considered a pioneer of her time, and one of the greatest geniuses of anthropology and writing in the
The Southwest Michigan Black Heritage Society holds this Book Club meeting every other month throughout the year. The Race Initiative Book Club is founded out of the SMBHS’s Racial Healing Initiative, which is a program that maintains that the “lingering legacy of historical injustices must be addressed through” four steps: facing history, making connections, healing wounds and taking action. The Book Club is a drop-in club that fits into this structure by opening up a space for people to read and discuss books that promote racial healing and reconciliation.
Please join us on Thursday, January 15th from 6:30-8:00 pm at Kazoo Books to discuss this historic piece. It is free, open to the public, and we would love to see your face! The book is available at the library or at Kazoo Books for purchase.
2513 Parkview Avenue
For more information on our Book Club, check out this article.
Posted by B at 7:17 AM
Friday, January 2, 2015
If you're looking for something to do in the chill of the new year, why not visit the Kalamazoo Valley Museum and hear a little bit of wisdom from some local residents who are working to create change?
The Kalamazoo Valley Museum and the Southwest Michigan Black Heritage Society are working together to continue the community conversation about race, equity, and social justice in a new project based on oral histories with contemporary residents of Kalamazoo. The project, “Voices for Social Justice,” opened at the
on October 5, 2014 with a panel question and answer session moderated by
Earlene McMichael from WMUK Radio, and featured five local social justice
activists who were interviewed and highlighted for the project. Kalamazoo Valley Museum
The engaging conversation between the panelists and the audience stressed the importance of continuing to fight racism consciously and with full commitment. Despite the often remarked sentiment that we live in a post-racist society, Chéree Thomas, Program Director at Douglass Community Association, reminded the audience that racism “hasn’t gone anywhere; it just looks different.”
The panel was unanimous in the sentiment that racism is still alive. “No one can survive in this society without being poisoned,” said Jo Ann Mundy, Executive Director of ERAC/CE. Racism wounds not only the oppressed, but also the oppressor. However, according to JR Reynolds, anti-racist activist and columnist for the Battle Creek Inquirer, racism is but one facet of the problems that we face in society. He argues that in order to address social justice issues and fight for equality, one cannot focus on only one of the “isms.” Racism, sexism, able-ism, et cetera are all part of the equation that adds up to injustice and inequality in
Reynolds says that one cannot work against one ‘ism’ and not be affected by the
other issues, and this sentiment was repeated by every panelist. “The crux
of justice” is “anti-oppression” as a whole, said Lisa Brock, Academic
Director of the America Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership at .
We must do it together and “it’s going to take all of us.” Kalamazoo College
“Voices for Social Justice” can be viewed for free at the KVM now through January 19, 2015. Stop by the Museum to listen to excerpts of interviews in which several local residents speak about their work, ideals, hopes, and dreams for a
community that fully embraces social justice. What does an equitable society look like? See what a few of
your neighbors think, and participate in the conversation. Kalamazoo
Posted by B at 9:58 AM