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Dialogue on Race Series
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Cost for the entire six-week Series is $25.00. Payment can be made on line or at time of registration. Click the Event button and select Series Registration. Series is limited to 15 participants. http://conta.cc/1s11KLv

5/25/2016 to 6/30/2016
When: 5/25-6/30-16
Where: Taylor Porter Law Firm- Conference Room
450 Laurel St 8th Floor
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 
United States
Contact: Maxine Crump
255-274-6902

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Dialogue on Race Louisiana's core program is the Dialogue on Race: Original Series. It provides a safe space for honest discussion on the issue of racism. It's an important step in a journey toward enlightenment, understanding and the elimination of racism from our society. It's a journey that should include the majority of Americans. Since most of us do not believe we are a part of the problem, it must mean we are not in favor of racism and therefore would like to eliminate it in favor of the promise that America makes in the Declaration of Independence. 

 

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SIX SESSIONS Series -- Please note: 4 are on Wednesdays and 2 are on Tuesdays 

Days
Dates
Times
*Place
See address below.
Wednesdays

Tuesdays
May 25 - June 30
June 7 & 14
5:30 pm - 7:30 pm
5:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Taylor Porter Law Firm

 

 

Racism is perhaps the most elusive, penetrating, and permeating challenge in our society. So daunting a question is racism that is often avoided. When it is discussed, the result is often unmanageable and unsolvable. What often follows is a reassuring statement. "We have come a long way." It is true that we have, but have we come far enough?

When discussing opportunities in America you often hear, "Anyone can make it in America if they work hard enough." When has one worked "hard enough?" Is " hard enough" the same for people of color as it is for those who are white? Is the play field level? The answer depends on h ow people look at the part race plays in determining  one's opportunities in America.

Those who say we've come a long way are often reflecting on the passage of Civil Rights laws in the 106-s, in particular the Voting Rights Act and the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education that desegregated public schools. These institutional actions brought radical change but did not completely end racism. 

As a society, America has moved away from seeing racism as operating through institutions and began to understand the problem as personal attitudes and individual acts of meanness. Many believe the solution is to have white people simply find love in their hearts fro people of color. But even if they do, love alone cannot solve racism. Prejudice is without a doubt a troublesome attitude, but attitude and individual acts of meanness are evidence of bigotry, not racism. It is that mistaken focus on the attitudes of individuals that makes the elimination racism seem so daunting. Racism is not power, whether intentional or unintentional. Individual prejudice cannot determine where people of color live, work or shop. Prejudice alone is not racism. Only our institutions can determine where one lives, works, recreates, worships, shops and gets his or health care or education. We give our power to our institutions to run our society, and how these institutions operate determines how access is distributed. "It was racism when America intentionally took over land from natives and enslaved captured Africans. Stains that we have not yet cleaned," wrote Gene Patterson, a columnist for The Atlanta Constitution. 

In order to eliminate racism, we will need institutional change, for which there is precedent. On ce example of institutional change that might have seemed unlikely is the elimination of smoking in public buildings. It began as an issue of concern over breathing "second-hand smoke." When individuals alone attempted to solve the problem by changing the attitude of individual smokers, it became a divisive issue at best and caused no real change. Only through institutional backing of "No-Smoking Areas" did the illegalization of smoking in public become a sweeping change nationwide. It did not require people to change their attitudes in order to solve the problem. 

Since racism is an institutional problem, it needs to be solved through institutional change. We have already seen that trying to solve racism through changing personal attitudes has led to divisiveness and pointing fingers across racial lines. Since racism is an institutional problem, it is a societal problem. We consider the United States to be the greatest nation on the planet, and we can solve this problem. 

So to stop with the changes to some institutions brought by civil rights laws of the '60s is not the American way. When describing America as the greatest nation, that description needs to also mean "an equal and just society" for all. All institutions need to reflect America's greatness in that way. We also need to do whatever it takes to insure that we do not lose ground on the racial gains we have made so far. 

When we recognize that racism is prejudice plus institutional power, we are afforded an opportunity to rethink what is possible for out society. When we see that our institutions have shown that they can operate in a way that serves the needs of all people equitably it makes it possible to see that racism can be eliminated. Racism was built into our system, and anything that was built can be dismantled. We must see to it that our institutions rise to the challenge of solving racism. We all have a responsibility to do our personal part. Dialogue is a powerful tool. Talk is action and race dialogues are among the best steps toward eliminating racism. 

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