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Old Stone Church's 10th Annual "Hope for the City"

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At noon on Wednesday, March 21st, we went to the Old Stone Church for the last program in its 10th annual "Hope for the City" series. The speaker for the day was Dr. Imani M. Scott, Ph.D., Consultant for Conflict Analysis and Professor of Communication at Savannah College of Art and Design. Dr. Scott is also the editor and contributing author of the book, "Crimes Against Humanity in the Land of the Free: Can a Truth and Reconciliation Process Heal Racial Conflict in America?" 

The subject of her presentation was "Peace begins with Truth: The Moral Imperative to Build Community and Race Relations in Cleveland, Ohio and Beyond" and it was conducted via a series of slides. One of the slides indicated that truth matters because it:

***Legitimizes Realty

***Authenticates our efforts to locate meaning in the world

***Offers a base upon which we can rely on and place confidence in

***Establishes a foundation for our inner peace

Dr. Scott talked about these truths regarding racism:

***The concept of race is built on a lie (i.e. human sub-species do not exist, skin color is only skin deep, race is not biological, and racism is real)

***The U.S. has an addition-like affiliation with racism

***There are contemporary and perpetual consequences of racism

***The U.S. government is fully aware of the wrongs of racism and its long-standing complicity in supporting it

***Racist beliefs, hatred and discrimination in the U.S. continue to perpetuate social discord

***Anger, fear and hatred based on the fallacy of race are genuine and palpable

***We are ALL beneficiaries of racism

In the course of her presenation, Dr. Scott requested that we ask ourselves:

***How would you respond to living the next 20 years with a different skin color?

***In your heart of hearts, do you believe that some groups of people are innately superior to others?

***What are the costs and consequences of racism to white Americans?

***Who benefits from racebaiting and its related perpetuation of discord, divisiveness and systemic inequalities?

***To what end, is there a moral imperative to build community and improve race relations in Cleveland and beyond?

Dr. Scott believed that fear is often the reason that people have racist attitudes. For instance, she shared with a story about one of her students who came to her saying that he was a straight, white male and he felt that he was being blamed for everything. Dr. Scott contended that we must listen to such people and address their fears if we are to move forward.

Accordingly, she called for a "truth, reconciliation, and peace process" to heal wounds and promote humanitarian principles.

As for us, we believe that a lot of the truths and questions poised at this time could be easily adapted to native born U.S. citizens' ambivalent feelings towards foreign-born people. In fact, we watched a clip of  Mr. Jorge Ramos interviewing Mr. Jared Taylor, a white supremist, who had very negative (to put it politely) things to say about immigrants of cultures different than his own. See https://www/google.com/search?q+jorge+ramos+interviews+jared+taylor&ie=UTF-8&oe+UTF-8&hl=en&client=safari 

As for what we can do as individuals, Dr. Scott suggested several books we could study to educate ourselves along with accepting our "shared' responsibility for the status quo and being "courageous conduits of change".

Along these lines we spoke to several people that day at the Old Stone Church who are doing just that including:

***Ms. Chinenye Nkemere Thompson, Community Engagement Coordinator of the Cleveland Community Police Commission, who introduced Dr. Scott. We talked with Ms. Thompson for a moment and learned that years ago Ms. Margaret W. Wong helped her parents obtain their Green Cards (they are now citizens) when they immigrated to the United States from Nigeria.

***Mr. Ephraim Abdullah who is heavily involved with "Cleveland Rise!" whose mission is "to assist in the realization of individual sustainability for at risk youth and their families through mentor-ship, education, and entrepreneurship". See http://www.clevelandrise.org//

***Mr. Steve Gorman who volunteers at "Thomas Jefferson Newcomers Academy"  and mentors a Syrian refugee family and finds both experiences to be immensely rewarding.

 

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC