Community Conversations Aim to Understand Race, Racism, Antiracism

Posted on Jun 22, 2020, by Amy Spreeman

To make it easier to talk about race and have compassionate community conversations, Imagine Fox Cities is providing series of free conversation guides to those who live and work in the region.

Kimberly A. Barrett

“We launched this series on Juneteenth in recognition of the lasting racial inequities in the US that have their origins in the transatlantic slave trade,” said Kimberly Barrett, Co-Chair of the Imagine Fox Cities Belonging sub-committee and Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion at Lawrence University. “The enduring taint of racism left by slavery on our society is painfully clear in the negative health disparities experienced by communities of color during the current pandemic and the recent police involved killing of African Americans.”

Coordinated by the Belonging sub-committee, the three-guide series includes information and instructions on having 90-minute conversations focused on listening and sharing — without judgment or debate. The first conversation is about understanding the idea of race. The second focuses on racism, and the last discussion will explore ways to practice antiracism.

Facilitator guides will be provided for those who wish to host a conversation. The Belonging group will share a new guide every two weeks for six weeks, beginning Monday June 22. No prior training is needed to effectively use the guides. However, if people would like assistance in hosting and facilitating these conversations, volunteers are available.

The focus of Imagine Fox Cities is to increase the well-being of all residents in the region. Its work began when a group of community leaders from business, nonprofits, municipalities, civic organizations and education met in 2017 to discuss how the Fox Cities might benefit from looking ahead a generation or two to imagine what kind of community we might want to be. They considered, “What would we want for our children and grandchildren as they live their lives in this place?” The group decided to do just that: Imagine Fox Cities. Read more here.

One aspiration clearly expressed during the group’s first convening of several community stakeholders in October 2019 was to become a community in which all who live in the region feel they belong and were embraced and valued for their unique contributions. A key aspect of such a community is to promote inclusion, not only by responding to individual racist acts of discrimination, but to help prevent them by working together to dismantle structural racism in all organizations and institutions.

“The Belonging group set out to design a series of conversations to help diverse members of our community come together to better understand the problem and discuss solutions that fit the places in which we live, learn, work, worship and play,” said Patrick Ambroso, Co-Chair of the Belonging subcommittee and a Kimberly Clark employee.

“We want to support our community in joining those around the country, in urban and rural settings, of all races and ages, who in this pivotal moment are demanding an end to racism.” Dr. Barrett added.

Click here for more information.

Imagine Fox Cities was created in 2018 with the support of the Community Foundation in an effort to shape a living vision that guides actions and decisions that advance the well-being of all who call the Fox Cities home. It is the goal of Imagine Fox Cities to spark and support new effort to fill identified needs and opportunities in the Fox Cities while honoring the autonomy and uniqueness of each community. Imagine Fox Cities is eager to engage new leaders and voices and maintain what makes the Fox Cities such a special place to live and work for today and future generations.

Support for Imagine Fox Cities has been provided by grants from the Bright Idea Fund and David L. and Rita E. Nelson Family Fund, both within the Community Foundation, as well as major contributions from Bank of Kaukauna, Boldt, Community First Credit Union,Galloway, SECURA, ThedaCare, and Thrivent. Additional support came from Kimberly-Clark, Miller Electric, NAI Pfefferle and United Way.