June 2019 Round Table Discussion
These are some of the points that were discussed:
We all have struggles in life regardless of race, class or culture. Even so, some people have privileges that others do not have. One of those privileges was skin color. Example someone mentioned that she can walk into a hotel downtown Atlanta to use a bathroom or walk through a high end store without fear of being followed or being asked to leave, which may not ring true for someone who does not look like her. Money was another privilege. Someone gave an example of her poor classmates in High School who were forced to carry on their unwanted pregnancy full term compared to those with money who had options to abort unwanted pregnancies. The poor young to adult generation cycle of poverty continues because of a lack of resources. How can we as a community come alongside persons in those situations and find ways in making a difference?
There is a gap between the older and younger generation in the way one sees others because of experiences. For example, one person mentioned her son who is in his 20’s with friends from all walks of life. She described her son’s circle of friends as a color guard. These friends travel several places together. On the other spectrum is her mom who grew up in segregated schools and constantly fears for her grandchild who is taking chances. This grandma is projecting her fears from her upbringing onto her grandson. The question here is how do we find ways to bridge that gap? How can we let the older generation see that even though the overall system has not changed, the younger generation sees a different picture?
Another important factor that came to the table was the people who do not to see certain types of discrimination because it has not affected them personally. As a community we must see discrimination for what it is and not keep silent. For instance, one person mentioned that his first encounter with discrimination was when his friend was arrested for being in the wrong place (in a car with his white girlfriend). He decided to be a character witness for his friend. Since then he has made and continues to make every effort to address person who consciously or unconsciously discriminate.
We also address the importance of awareness. Awareness of the subconscious mind that harbors much of the influences of societal culture as well as family culture. For example, one may attempt to project their values on others or judge others who do not have the same values. For example, someone spoke about her problem with the LGBTQ community because of her religious upbringing until she spent an hour with a man whose partner of 21yrs was actively dying. That day she saw another human being and not a gay man. That experience removed many of her prejudices blinders. Awareness of our surroundings that have effect on our seniors and disabled also came up. For example, scooters left in the middle of sidewalks that hinder the use of motorized chairs and wheelchairs.
Another important point made was the fear instilled in us because of experiences past and present. Someone mentioned that instead of focusing on privileges, we should focus on the talents that we each have and focus on uplifting that in each other. Fear to a young man in his 20s was not the way to live life. He mentioned it is not about being naïve yet he stated that he lives his life to the fullest with the knowledge that there are certain things we cannot change.
We decided to start with ourselves. Our assignment is to use our talents to serve/interact two people outside our comfort zone. Even though the exercise may not be challenging for many we were encouraged to be creative and stretch ourselves. We will talk about our experiences at the next discussion. We will also address areas where we can make a difference.