BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Tough but meaningful conversations about race are happening across the globe.
Dialogue on Race in Louisiana is a non-profit organization focused on eliminating racism through education, action, and transformation. The group formed in 2011, according to President and CEO Maxine Crump.
Crump’s experiences through the Civil Rights Movement and the desegregation of LSU helped her create the concept of change through meaningful conversations.
For the last several years, Dialogue on Race in Louisiana has created a safe space for groups of people to openly discuss race.
The series is structured, formatted, and includes six sessions. The outbreak forced sessions to become virtual allowing for fifteen participants at a time. Crump says the discussions are guided by a moderator, " We get to unpack what we think we know about race," she says. " And so the conversation in our dialogue series is not just people sitting around saying how they feel or trying to find out how other people feel. The conversations are: what do you know about racism, how do you define it, where do you see it once you define it, and then what would you like to see happen?"
She says each session is centered around those topics while encouraging people to feel like they are empowered. Additionally, Crump says the discussions are rooted in facts, so the conversation can be meaningful and lead to change. “In dialogue, they learn that what someone intended is not the focus. What is the outcome is the focus and the outcomes continue to be measured that African Americans and other people of color in America are disproportionately negatively impacted by much of the institutional set up in America.”
The virtual sessions sometimes include friends, while many include complete strangers looking to understand their neighbors.
Crump says they don’t screen participants, rather encourage diversity, with some coming from varying parts of the world. “As far as what side anyone is on, that hardly comes up in the dialogue. What point of view someone holds doesn’t come up. The focus is on institutional racism, where do you see it, how do you see it operating? People end up having a change of thought or awakening. They choose what they want to think.”
Having an honest conversation about racism in American is uncomfortable and tough, however, Crump says, " We recognize that this conversation, I believe is one of the healthiest conversations people can have.” Crumps adds that she encourages people to ask themselves, “What’s the problem, am I a part of the problem and how can I be a part of the solution?”
Crumps says dialogue isn’t a therapy session, but a, “We the people session. What do we the people want to know? What kind of country do we want to live in? What kind of institutions do we want? What do we want our community to look like? Because constitutionally this country belongs to the people. It seems like it’s been let go of. But I think empowered people are the best citizens.”
Click here to learn more about the sessions. If a dialogue session is full, add your name to the waitlist.
Visit PBSKids.org for more resources on discussing race and diversity with your kids.
The Center for Racial Justice in Education has links to several interviews with experts and resources to help navigate those difficult conversations.
Click here to report a typo.