May 2019 Round Table Discussion
Rachel, one of our attendees, shared some key points from the article White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible on Knapsack. In her short presentation, we were reminded that those points were from the personal experiences of the writer, Peggy McIntosh.
Joe, our facilitator, gave a short summary on the video and the second article about Kyle Korver, a pro basketball player for the Utah Jazz. He pointed out how much society influences our thought processes.
We were encouraged to discuss unearned advantages and disadvantages from our personal experiences.
We discussed how different races can bring preconceived notions to a situation (from their past and their experiences), just to find out that people are not the way we see them. For instance, Sheila started a new job as an Administrative Professional where she was the only black female. Jim, a white man, had worked there for a while in building maintenance. The first day Jim saw Sheila, she had just walked away from the coffee machine with a cup of coffee in her hand. He rushed down from his ladder hurrying after her yelling, "Hey, are you the coffee lady?" Sheila was offended. After all, she was dressed for her profession. She wasn't carrying bags or boxes of coffee, just a cup like anyone else. She had seen it before. You can look and do as everyone else, but be considered a maid, cook or even coffee lady simply because of the color of your skin. She already had to deal with confederate flags on the way to work and outside the building, as well as confederate figurines and screensavers inside the office. Jim realized she was offended and was really kind to her every time he saw her. Even though Sheila was bothered by being judged by the color of her skin, she realized that Jim did not intend to offend her. After all, he had never seen any black professionals in that company. As they got to know each other, the lines seemed to fade.
We discussed how some police officers and others in authority treat black people vs white people.
We discussed how some white people feel uncomfortable or offended by people of color having their own organizations such as HBCUs and Miss Black America pageants. Someone shared how a white person once asked, "What if we had historically white colleges and universities?" Her response was, "Most schools that are not HBCUs AREhistorically white. So much so that black people were not admitted."
We discussed how some people just don't see the race issue. Even if they have been affected by it, they choose not to see it. It works for them.
We discussed cultural prejudices such as hatred towards Jews.
We also discussed the balance of loving others with the knowledge of who, and what you're dealing with – meet people where they are and see others as human beings instead of seeing race, culture, gender or class etcetera.
Someone suggested dialogue with police officers as a start. We discussed the ongoing coffee with a cop conversation where citizens are encouraged to stop by for dialogue with Tucker precinct officers at different locations across Tucker and neighboring cities. Unfortunately, based on experience from those conversations, few people show up. We see those dialogues as a positive way of changing perceptions on both sides. We concluded that one way to get involved was to mobilize our community to show up.