It is, even today, one of the most taboo subjects in American culture: race. And as much as we want to believe the unequal treatment of people of color is behind us as a nation, the events in Charlottesville, Va., a few weeks ago and the subsequent national conversation about Confederate monuments indicate that we are far from finished with these issues.
Even if you set aside the charged emotion of these hot button topics, a problem with racial disparities stubbornly persists in a host of socioeconomic and health indicators. Clearly, something needs to be done. But what?
The answers to that question are tricky and diffuse, but a host of organizations including the Alliance for a Healthier SC, Children’s Trust of South Carolina, St. Martin in the Fields Episcopal Church, Palmetto Association for Children & Families, and First Step South Carolina are moving the conversation forward through a series of webinars and community gatherings that seek to provide a safe place for expression, increase awareness of child well-being racial disparities, increase awareness about South Carolina’s civil rights history, and allow for discussions about public and private systems that perpetuate inequities.
“We thought these community gatherings would really give us a chance to reach out into populations from across the state with our partners to talk to them about what we're seeing, why we think we're seeing it, and what we might be able to do about it,” explains Whitney Tucker, a Policy and Research Associate at Children’s Trust.
“A lot of the organizations interested in learning more about race equity are non-profits who really wanted to get at this issue but weren't sure how to go about it. They really wanted to call out things that they might see or experience in their work that could be discriminatory or bad for children and families of color, but felt they didn't have a strong enough grounding at their own organization to really step outside and start calling out other practices.”
With their partners, Children’s Trust settled on a series of gatherings led by Speaking Down Barriers, an upstate SC group of facilitators trained in anti-racist framework and conflict mediation. The gatherings will incorporate the power of narrative and spoken word poetry art to “create a healing space across differences.”
“They are specifically trained to allow people to have these conversations. That's why we thought they would be the best group to help us facilitate,” points out Tucker. “They are going to use the power of spoken word and narrative as an art form to reach out in a really careful, mindful way and help people to create a healing space where we can talk to each other even when we disagree. I think that right now, in our current social and political climate, that the opportunities to do that are few and far between.”
“This is a chance for people who would like to talk about these things to come out, sit in front of people who may feel differently than they do, and have someone there to help people reach out to each other instead of talking across or over each other.”
Upcoming community gatherings are as follows:
Lowcountry Gathering – North Charleston
Tuesday, August 29, 2017
5 – 7:30 p.m.
Midlands Gathering – Columbia
Monday, September 11, 2017
5 – 7:30 p.m.
Pee Dee Gathering – Florence
Thursday, September 28, 2017
5 – 7:30 p.m.
Parking is free and refreshments will be provided. Click here to register.