Discussing Race and Privilege: A Series of Conversations
Following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police and the subsequent public demonstrations against racism and inequality in the US, we initiated our series of conversations on race and privilege. This forum is intended to provide an opportunity to learn about and discuss the history of race and privilege, increase understanding of current conditions, and explore how each of us can contribute to increasing equity and justice.
The plan is to continue these discussions over the next year, approximately every 6-8 weeks. The content will follow the stages of white identity development described by Janet E. Helms in her work on developing an anti-racist identity. We will also include discussion of our own Smith experiences and the current conditions at the college at the appropriate time. Your input and suggestions for materials and topics are encouraged! We want to offer a variety of articles, podcasts, videos – that can easily be consumed between meetings.
March 30, 2021 (7pm via Zoom) The recent NYT article discussing incidents and developments at Smith “Inside a Battle Over Race, Class and Power at Smith College” provides the catalyst for this conversation. Suggested background materials include videos and podcasts and press coverage related to the very public termination of Jodi Shaw whose YouTube video about her concerns about the focus of the college on issues of race have also captured considerable attention.
In advance of the discussion, please download the materials list which includes download links: March 30 Materials List. This material represents a variety of viewpoints, some of which may be offensive or controversial. We will observe our ground rules for respectful group interaction based on Parker Palmer’s Circle of Trust.
February 10, 2021 We’ll focus this conversation on actions and solutions. Our suggested readings and materials include work by Smith visiting professor Loretta Ross, authors Ta-Nehisi Coates, Ibrahim X. Kendi and others.
Tuesday, October 21, 2020 We continued with the fourth in our yearlong series of conversations intended to help explore how racism and racial identities function in our lives. This forum is intended to provide an opportunity to learn about and discuss the history of race and privilege, increase understanding of current conditions, and explore how each of us can contribute to increasing equity and justice.
Wednesday, September 2, 2020 This session provided an opportunity to learn about and discuss the history of race and privilege, increase understanding of current conditions, and explore how each of us can contribute to increasing equity and justice.
June 23, 2020 We considered the history of Black people in the US, from slavery to the present day. We’ll begin talking about white privilege and how systemic racism is present in our lives.
June 11, 2020 Our first session was intended to provide information and context for the long-standing economic inequality of Black people in the Twin Cities. We viewed and discussed “Jim Crow of the North,” a documentary on the history of racial covenants and redlining in the Twin Cities. If you missed this, you may watch the program for free on YouTube or TPT.
“African American Inequality in the US” – Harvard Business School
“Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping” – The White House
The Harper’s Letter is a Weak Defense – Harper’s Weekly
Helms White Racial Identity Model
How “White Fragility” (by Robin DeAngelo) Talks Down to Black People – discussion of why the idea of white fragility is problematic
“I am a racist. So is Katherine Kersten. She can’t admit it.” by Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer – Counterpoint to Kersten op-ed
In Defense of Looting – a discussion of looting in Ferguson MO during protests
A Letter on Justice and Open Debate – Harper’s Weekly
The New Religion? – op-ed piece by conservative Katherine Kersten
On the Desperate Longing Not to Be Part of the Problem – the initial response to reports of looting in Minneapolis
Smaller, And Smaller, And Smaller – Marlon James talks about self-image as a Black man
“Racial authoritarianism in U.S. democracy” – Vesla M. Weaver and Gwen Prowse
Style and usage: ‘White’ should be capitalized – changing how we reference race as a description
“Take small steps, but take them now” – Steven Belton, President and CEO of The Urban League
“Ten Keys to Everyday Anti-Racism” – Kirsten Ivey-Olson, Lynn Turner
“Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” – Peggy McIntosh
“Which party represents our racial future?” – Ross Douthat
Robin DiAngelo (White Fragility) and Resmaa Menakem (My Grandmother’s Hands): In Conversation from On Being with Krista Tippett
The Supreme Court Justice With The Most To Say – Corey Robin, writer and political scientist at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center, on all that we’ve missed (or ignored) about Justice Clarence Thomas. Episode from “Break Your Silence” from On the Media.