Friday, January 2, 2015

There's Still Time to View Voices For Social Justice!

voices for social justices

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 Kalamazoo Valley Museum 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.

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 America. 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 Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership at  Kalamazoo College. We must do it together and “it’s going to take all of us.”

“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 Kalamazoo 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.

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