Dialogue on Race

From time to time the YWCA in Northwest Louisiana will be offering the Dialogue on Race Louisiana Original Series. Each Original Series session, except for the first one, is a structured, two-hour weekly dialogue limited to 10 to 15 participants. The first session lasts two and 30 minutes. The 6 sessions are held at the same time, once a week, for 6 weeks and are led by two trained facilitators.

Participants prepare for the weekly dialogue by reading short articles before each session. The facilitators set a safe environment for open and honest dialogue around three topic questions with one 10-minute break at the middle of the session. Refreshments are provided. All sessions will begin and end on time.

Understanding what racism is and how it operates through and is perpetuated by institutions in the United States is the core of the Original Series education process. As long as racism exists, our institutions will tend to operate to the advantage of one race and to the disadvantage of others.

Session I distinguishes dialogue from debate; provides definitions of key terms, including institutional racism and white privilege; explains the different roles of participants and facilitators; and sets some ground rules. After these basics are covered, the first week’s dialogue is based on the Jim Wallis article, “Race: America’s Original Sin,” which sketches the history of racism in the colonies and the United States.

Session II’s dialogue is about white privilege, the corollary of disadvantages to people of color, which is invisible to many whites.

Session III’s dialogue is about institutional racism as opposed to individual racial prejudice.

Session IV’s dialogue is focused on an honest look at the movement to end racism, which began in the middle of the last century, the positive changes it did make and what remains to be done to ensure human rights to all residents and citizens of the United States, regardless of race.

Session V’s dialogue is concerned with affirmative action, the constitutional but controversial requirement designed to roll back racial discrimination and level the playing field among races. What were its benefits and drawbacks?

Session VI’s dialogue is focused on how participants can practice what they have learned in the earlier dialogues that will help them play a part in the elimination of racism.

If interested in participating in Dialogue on Race Louisiana’s Original Series, please complete the Dialogue on Race Interest Form here.

Completing the interest form does not register you for an Original Series. But it will put you on a list of persons who will be notified of the dates and times of each Original Series when it is scheduled and of other racial justice programs offered by the YWCA.

Once an Original Series is announced, you will be provided the opportunity to register for it. At that time you will be asked to pay a $25 registration fee or you can request that the fee be waived. The fee covers cost of the Original Series materials, including a book containing the articles you will read. Each session of the Original Series is important, and you will be expected, when you register, to attend at least 5 of the 6 sessions, the number required to receive a certificate of completion.

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