This article by Executive Director Portia Espy originally appeared in Renaissance: The Magazine, a publication produced by the Fondren Renaissance Foundation.
We’re certainly at what appears to be a tipping point in America and abroad, sparked by the death of an African American man by the name of George Floyd. I long for the days when this 400-year-old narrative of death, intimidation, and injustice ceases.
I’ve heard these stories all my life. I listened to the stories as a young child, often told in hushed tones spoken by well-meaning adults who thought I was not within earshot. They wanted me to hold on to my childhood innocence as long as possible. Still, at a young age, I had to learn about the ugly legacy of race in this country and its impact not only within my community but within my own family.
It’s essential always, but especially during this time, for communities to come together to identify the things that are causing us harm, determine a way to eliminate the issues that divide us, and seek a pathway towards healing and wholeness. With tensions running high in our communities due to the deadly impact and social isolation caused by COVID-19, the Winter Institute has received many calls from community members from all walks of life asking: What can we do? How can we come together, and what does that look like?
There are several things we can do to support one another:
- Form a dialogue circle to include those within your life, but even better, invite someone who’s not in your usual social circle and who does not look like you. Keeping social distancing in mind, you can conduct a dialogue circle in person with no more than ten people, or you can create a virtual circle using ZOOM. If you don’t feel that you’re ready to host a circle, join a circle like the ones that we have coming up soon (see information below). We suggest that a set of ground rules be established to help create a safe and positive space for such sessions. Our organization has created and uses what we call our “Guideposts” during each session.
- Get to know someone who you perceive to be different from you. Engage in an exercise where you recognize your differences, learn about them, and then identify those things that you have in common. Learn from one another how you define being in community with one another. Over time, invite other individuals to join you.
- Explore the many resources available to you. There is a plethora of resources easily available with just a quick internet search. Some of our favorites are included below.
- Visit our website at winterinstitute.org. While you’re there, sign up for our newsletters, learn more about our offerings, and donate.
We each can positively support one another and be the change we want to see in our communities and the world.
WINTER INSTITUTE SPONSORED ZOOM CALLS
General Call – Open To All
Tuesday, June 9, 5:30-7:00 pm CDT – Facilitated by the Winter Institute’s Community & Capacity Building Team
Single-Identity Call: An Invitation to Black people who need a space to talk
Wednesday, June 10, noon – 1:30 pm CDT – Facilitated by Jackie Byrd Martin (Community & Capacity Building Coordinator) and Vondaris Gordon (Youth Engagement Manager)
Single-Identity Call: An Invitation to White people who want to be better allies in the work for racial justice
Thursday, June 11, noon – 1:30 pm CDT – Facilitated by April Grayson (Community & Capacity Building Director) and Jennifer Heath (Community & Capacity Building Coordinator)
- Research-based solutions to stopping police violence: https://twitter.com/samswey/status/1180655701271732224?s=20
- Anti-Racism Resources: http://bit.ly/ANTIRACISMRESOURCES
- Talking About Race, a guide from the National Museum of African American History & Culture: https://nmaahc.si.edu/learn/talking-about-race
- Campaign Zero: https://www.joincampaignzero.org/research
- 75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice: https://medium.com/equality-includes-you/what-white-people-can-do-for-racial-justice-f2d18b0e0234
- Colorlines: https://www.colorlines.com/
- Racial Equity Tools: https://www.racialequitytools.org/
- Teaching for Change: www.teachingforchange.org