The recent and tragic deaths of several African Americans caused by police officers and private citizens, and the resulting protests, have caused many across the U.S. to reflect on the current state of race relations in our country.
Coloradans and others across the nation have sought resources to learn more about how individual racism, structural racism, and white privilege affects the status of Black people in the U.S. In addition, many are reading about how they can become anti-racist individuals. They hope that once equipped with enough information and practical applications to their own lives, they would be empowered to shape the practices of the organizations and institutions to which they belong, and the opinions and beliefs of others. It’s no coincidence that in mid-June 2020, for “the first time the top 10 entries on the ‘combined print and ebook non-fiction list’ [of The New York Times] are primarily titles that focus on race issues in the US.“
People are doing more than reading about racial justice. They also seek inviting spaces where these racial issues can be honestly discussed. Many organizations have responded by hosting numerous virtual discussions on racism and racial justice. Often, people of color share what they’ve been through and what they’re feeling. Through such storytelling, those without lived experience with racism are there to listen and learn. Creating and hosting these events are nothing new for Colorado Humanities for it has done so for several years. A great example is its on-going “Changing the Legacy of Race and Ethnicity (CLoRE)” program series. To change our society’s trajectory on this critical issue, we need innovative events that inspire a deeper investigation of the persistent barriers to reaching the goal of equality.
To meet this moment, CLoRE will host a series of virtual events to explore various aspects of racial justice. We’re calling them “Conversations for One America.” The first event, titled “How Did We Get Here?” will take place on Wednesday, October 21st. I know what you’re thinking. You’ve listened to several excellent online racism discussions, and you’re wondering why you should participate in this one. The main difference is “context.” Many events assume that the audience knows how racism has developed and permeated our society, but that is not a safe assumption.
So, we’re gathering together a number of subject matter experts from different fields who will give attendees different perspectives on how racism affects, in various ways, the way we live today. Our speakers are:
Dr. Rachel Harding is a historian and poet who, as a professor, specializes in religions of the Afro-Atlantic diaspora.
Denise Maes, Esq. oversees all legislative work that affects civil liberties at the state and local level as the Public Policy Director of the ACLU of Colorado.
Wendell Pryor is the Executive Director of Chaffee County Economic Development Corporation.
Dr. Anthony Young is the President of Denver-Rocky Mountain Association of Black Psychologists.
These experts will give the “back story” on racism by looking through the lenses of criminal justice, economics, faith traditions, and psychology.
The CLoRE series is vitally important in this time. Without a closer scrutiny of such topics, a shared, multiracial society where equality exists will remain elusive. I hope that you’ll join us for this important discussion!
Adrian Miller is a Colorado Humanities board member, a James Beard Award-winning author, and executive director of the Colorado Council of Churches.