PWA would like to thank everyone who came out for our event "Looking Within Ourselves and Beyond to Eliminate Racism" and extend a very special thank you to YWCA CEO Charisse Mitchell, who led a frank and thought provoking conversation about race and racism in our everyday lives.
Charisse challenged us to see racism as an institutional and structural set of power relations and move beyond identifying racism as mainly the attitudes and actions of individuals. She explored the ways in which often well meaning notions of "colorblindness" can contribute to inequity and cultural erasure, and she helped define often misused terms such as diversity vs equality vs equity in order to foster more productive conversations. In a dialogue with the audience, Charisse discussed how we can be allies and activists in the fight for racial equality as well as touching on strategies to confront racism in our own families and social circles.
“If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. If you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”
Lilla Watson, Aboriginal elder, activist and educator from Queensland, Australia.
For those who would like to further explore the issue of racism in our society as well as here in Grand Rapids, Charisse recommended the following books:
Understanding White Privilege: Creating Pathways to Authentic Relationships Across Race, 2nd Edition, Frances E. Kendall
A City within a City: The Black Freedom Struggle in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Todd E. Robinson
The Social Construction of Race and Ethnicity in the United States, L. Ferrante and P. Browne, Jr
Dignity: Its Essential Role in Resolving Conflict, Donna Hicks, Ph.D.