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Confronting Racism : "A Workshop about Social Justice"

In January we had gone to the Westshore Unitarian Universalist Church on Hilliard Blvd. in Rocky River for the first half of a two-part workshop regarding confronting racism and on Tuesday, February 16th, we returned to for the final installment. Just as before, this workshop was conducted by social justice activists, Ms. Bridget Kent and Mr. Chris Knestrick. In the space of two hours, we explored different ways that racism is practiced unconsciously like adopting a policy that favors one ethnic group over another and justifying it by presenting a series of facts and figures; preferring not to attend an event located in a multi-ethnic area claiming fear as the main reason; and a person claiming not to be racist because he/she has several friends of a different ethnic group but avoids associating with different ethnicities as a whole. We also took part in several role-playing exercises including telling a friend/relative that his/her racist terminology is offensive to you; dealing with one's employer who has just told a joke that stereotyped/belittled an ethnic group; having a conversation with one's neighbor who is selling his/her house and moving away because the area is becoming "too East side." We also split into smaller groups and discussed the part that racism has played in our own lives and what we could do be better people. As things were winding down, it was said that a lot could be gained from reading books and following the news in order to absorb the facts about the history of racism and the role that it has played in our society. But in order to be effective advocates for inclusion and diversity we must come to terms with ourselves and our core values so that we will have the integrity and courage to move forward. Mr. Knestrick said that doing the work that he does on behalf of social justice is hard and emotionally difficult yet it helps him "to feel human in our society".     Written by: Michael Patterson Community Liaison, Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC.