By Micky ScottBey Jones
On November 5, 2016, the Racial Justice Institute came to Eastern University. It was a full day of exploring the story of race in the United States, and in the lives of the participants. We began with story, Scripture, prayer and even a little conversation over breakfast, and moved through a day of small group discussion, journaling, group activities and dialogue about some of the most anxiety-producing topics in our society today.
Just saying words like “white supremacy” or “racism” can cause conversation to shut down, but our team of talented and compassionate facilitators—AnaYelsi Velasco-Sanchez, Kenji Kuramitsu, Sarah Withrow King and ESA’s two Associate Fellows of Racial Justice, Micky ScottBey Jones and Darren Callhoun—were able to create a space of conversation, learning and self-reflection.
Just saying words like “white supremacy” or “racism” can cause conversation to shut down, but our team of talented and compassionate facilitators were able to create a space of conversation, learning and self-reflection.
Students, faculty and community members came together for the workshop, which made for an intergenerational experience. The RJI is committed to local engagement, a plurality of stories and deep intersectional engagement. One of the ways we fulfill those commitments is to ask someone outside of our team to speak during the lunch hour. Dr. Drick Boyd, Eastern professor and author of the new book White Allies in the Struggle for Racial Justice, shared both personal stories of engaging racial justice as a white man, and historical and current opportunities in the Philadelphia struggle against oppression.
The day ended with a robust discussion about practical ways to work toward racial justice and an exploration of our own spheres of influence. The Racial Justice Institute is a dynamic training with a basic framework that is co-created with the location and participants. The task before us is complex and at times overwhelming, but we look forward to partnering with more communities to offer the Racial Justice Institute throughout 2017. If you would like more information about the Racial Justice Institute, please contact us!