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Spring 2006: Letter from the Chairs

“If I Hadn’t Believed It, I Wouldn’t Have Seen It”

Dear friends,

We hope that you’ll pause and reflect on those words. You’ll see them again soon, thanks to the Trinitarian Congregational Church as it promotes an upcoming workshop on Institutional Racism with a wonderful organization called Community Change.

Humans are quick learners. That’s wonderful, most of the time. Not always. Our prejudices are first acquired in our very early, formative years, before we have the adult intellect to help us make choices and determine personal values. Racism starts early, the experts tell us.

Our personal experience may tell us something else about learning. Un-learning is hard to do. Habits are hard to overcome. Prejudices and fears about differences may be a real challenge to identify, confront and overcome. We’re inclined to see what we have been conditioned to see, and may miss the rest!

When racism, a system of privilege that is based on race, becomes woven into the very ways we live – renting or buying a home, going to school, shopping, holding a job, caring for our health – that racism becomes part of the landscape of our lives. Thus it becomes hard to see, if we see it at all.

Institutional racism is not an “inner city” problem. The Concord-Carlisle Human Rights Council has been asked, more than once, to consider evidence of systemic discrimination in public and private institutions. We have learned that it can be easy to identify a single dramatic racist act as just that. And we have learned just how difficult it is to consider a series of small actions, imbedded within institutional practices and behaviors, to determine if it truly suggests that a racist system is somehow at work.

One thing is certain: we can only participate in solving problems that we recognize and understand. With this in mind, TriCon of Concord in collaboration with Community Change Inc. is sponsoring a workshop on April 9th from 2:30 to 5:30 pm. Paul Marcus, Executive Director of CCI, will be the facilitator for this interactive, thought provoking session.

We will explore the definition of racism by looking at the issues of race, prejudice, and power.  An awareness of institutional racism will then be developed by reviewing the systemic structures of society that impact everyone’s lives, including education, healthcare, housing, employment, finance, and criminal justice. The agenda will include:

 • An interactive presentation that establishes a common framework for understanding     race and racism  • A powerful video that demonstrates the effects of institutional racism  • Small and large group discussions

Yours for human rights, Court Booth & Kristin Allison

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