Many will tout these days, particularly since the election of President Obama, that racism is no longer an issue in the country. But as we’ve seen how the disparate rates of black male prisoners in this country have created slavery by another name, we must also see how certain daily privileges afforded to the majority groups in power in the United States, media portrayals, and the like, are, in fact, racism by another name.
The fact is, even if we have succeeded in quashing the completely irrational fears that led to the formation of hate groups such as the Klu Klux Klan and other groups that sought to torture or kill people based on race, we are still dealing with the socio-economic aftermath of what that way of thinking has done to this country and its diverse body of citizens.
Right here in Minnesota, a recent study from the Wilder Foundation found that 37 percent of people in Dakota, Washington, and Ramsey counties still say they get nervous walking into a room of people from other races, if they are the only one of their own race present. One third of these same folks say they strongly or somewhat agree that they would like to get to know people of other races better, but often feel as if they might be ridiculed or shamed if they say the wrong thing. Combine that with the disheartening statistics on education and housing disparities by race in this state and it’s hard to deny that racism is still an issue that needs much attention.
Who will step up to help bridge the cultural and institutional divide that racial tensions have spawned? How exactly do you confront racism in a way that is both implicating and welcoming? These are all goals of the Facing Race ‘We’re all in this together’ Initiative. Hosts, Michelle Alimoradi and Tom O’Connell will discuss these issues of racism that are subtly embedded in our societal structure today as we talk about their upcoming Facing Race Ambassador Awards ceremony, happening the evening after our broadcast, and what these folks are doing to shed light on the privileges and the fears that continue to perpetuate racism in this country.
TTT’s MICHELLE ALIMORADI and TOM O’CONNELL talk with key figures in this year’s Awards event.
JOSIE JOHNSON- former University of Minnesota Regent; retired University of Minnesota Associate Vice President for Minority Student Affairs; Founder, UofM Office of Diversity & Equity, and Honoree – Josie R. Johnson Human Rights and Social Justice Award; Principal, Josie Robinson Johnson & Associates Consulting, and recipient of a 2013 Facing Race Amabassador Award.
CORINTH MATERA- Teacher, South High School, Minneapolis. Corinth was nominated for a Facing Race Ambassador Award for her work in creating an education unit addressing the U.S. Dakota War of 1862. Ms. Matera has been a leader in promoting this education unit, and it has reached over 600 students in the past three years.
DR MANUEL PASTOR- Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity, Southern California; His most recent book, published in 2010, is Uncommon Common Ground: Race and America’s Future. Keynote speaker at this year’s Facing Race Awards Ceremony.