This week, I spent 2 days participating in the Institute for Healing Racism. It was an intense and very interesting 2 days. Growing up in a small town where the population was basically all white, I never witnessed or experienced any forms of racism. In fact, my first “experience” with it was while reading “Iggie’s House” by Judy Blume. It amazed and shocked and angered me that this black family was unwelcome in this white neighborhood! I coudln’t imagine such a thing! It wasn’t because I was an enlightened 9 year old. The thought simply never occured to me. I had family in larger cities, AKA Saginaw, so I was not unawares, I just never gave any of it much thought. In college, I was, of course surrounded by thousands of other students with backgrounds far different from mine. Again, though, I never realized the depth and breadth of racism. At this institute, I was struck with how sheltered and naive I have been my whole life. Sure, as an adult, I’ve seen news stories and read articles, but I still never really heard people tell their stories (except one teen volunteer, and that did break my heart!). And I was ashamed to learn much of the history that we weren’t taught in schools. Two African American gentlemen shared their stories and admitted that they were no longer angry. It was a part of their every day life. They have learned to accept that THAT is how it. Really? As far as we’ve come, and especially with the election of Barack Obama, there are sill miles to go. Still, even as I write this, I still feel uneducated and ashamed at my ignorance of the scope of racism, but thanks to these past 2 days, I will try to become even more aware and hopefully even make a small change.
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