Excuse me, are you listening? 14-8
Sunday, May 3, 2015

Rina Risper, President & Publisher of The New Citizens Press

Dear Readers,

Our nation is going through an interesting time.  Rioting has been occurring all over the world for some time. Each group has specific grievances. Please educate yourself regarding the history before making comments that are ignorant or less than helpful. You cannot take words back. Why are we arguing about what is going on? Why are we not having conversations where people can RESPECTFULLY challenge one another? To grow you must include each voice, we learned that in kindergarten. There are many others who are not rioting but finding out the root cause is important before you look foolish especially if you have never been severely impacted by structural or institutional bias. Wikipedia has a list of riots to review worldwide. Put the word “riot” into the search engine.  Education is key.

During the last few months, I have been learning a lot about definitions of certain biases.  I received the information below at a session at Lansing Community College recently on racism.  Watching the segments of the movie, “Mobile in Black and White” was so eye opening.  It saddened me so to watch others speak about  the disparities that people hardly want to talk about for fear of offending.  

Internalized - The set of private beliefs, prejudices, and ideas that individuals have have about superiority of whites and the inferiority of people of color. Among people of color, it manifests as internalized oppression. Among whites, it manifests as internalized racial superiority.  

Interpersonal - The expression of racism between individuals. It occurs when individuals interact and their private beliefs affect their interactions.

Institutional - Discriminatory treatment, unfair policies and practices, inequitable opportunities and impacts within organizations and institutions, based on race, that routinely produce racially inequitable outcomes for people of color and advantages for white people. Individuals within institutions take on the power of the institution when they reinforce racial inequities.

Structural - A system in which public policies, institutional practices, cultural representations, and other norms work in various, often reinforcing ways to perpetuate racial group inequality. It is racial bias among institutions and across society. It involves the cumulative and compounding effects of an array of societal factors including history, culture, ideology, and interactions of institutions and policies that systematically privilege white people and disadvantage people of color.

Other instructions that were given:  

1. Listen actively--respect others when they are talking.

2. Speak from your own experience instead of generalizing. ("I" instead of "they," "we," and "you").

3. Do not be afraid to respectfully challenge one another by asking questions, but refrain from personal attacks --focus on ideas.

4. Participate to the fullest of your ability--community growth depends on the inclusion of every individual voice.

5. The goal is not to agree -- it is to gain a deeper understanding.

I was impressed by the stories and the conversations that people were having .  Each week someone said something that made me think.  

Here are the questions that were asked to discuss in a group setting.   

1. What is your initial reaction to the segment? Is there any experience that has occurred since our last meeting that relates to structural racism?

2. Does race play a part in your daily life? If yes, how? If no, why not?

3. Describe one racialized experience you experienced in K-12 school.

4. What is your perception of race based on: media, public, personal  relationships, etc.? 

5. How does history impact the discussion of race? Can we talk about the      history of Mobile, AL or the U.S. without discussing race?

6. Is there a need for action on the issues of race in Mobile? If yes, what can be done by individuals, organizations, institutions, and leaders? If not, how do we move forward? 

Log on to www.mobileinblackandwhite.com

Love People,

Rina Risper

P.S.  Our groups were diverse in race and age.  Conversations are good and facilitate understanding.  

This column was printed in the May 3, 2015 - May 16, 2015 edition


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