In 1989, I participated in a workshop designed to help social activists confront and change our (largely unrecognized) racist attitudes and actions. The two-day workshop was facilited by Rev. C. T. Vivian of Atlanta, Georgia (a former aide to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) and assisted by Ms. Toni E. Weaver, a racial analyst from Ohio. There were 25 participants, 6 of whom were required--according to the program's format--to be persons of color. This was to insure that voices from "inside" the issue in our own community would be there acting as mirrors to reflect and speak their truth.
During the civil rights struggles of the 1960s and '70s, a number of United States laws were changed. Unfortunately, cultural racism remains alive and well...even among sincere white folks working within the nation's black communities. Seeing the need for deeper attitudinal and social change, Rev. Vivian established B.A.S.I.C. (Black Action Strategies and Information Center, phone: 1-770-716-0505), a resource for persons and organizations committed to this ungoing work of what he calls "our shared humanity".
The two days were disturbing, provocative, illuminating and transformative. We started by examining our personal attitudes and actions toward persons of color. I came face-to-face with my own racism hiding behind the mask of my identity as activist and friend-to-blacks. As painful as was that discovery, it was the opening I needed to see more clearly the pernicious spread of racism into all aspects of our social, cultural, governmental, economic, educational and religious institutions. Honesty was a prized quality during those early October days...and speaking out was encouraged, as racism thrives in silence.
The following images emerged
as I began to assimilate the powerful impact of this workshop on my views
of myself and society. The words quoted are those of Rev. C. T. Vivian.
May his work continue to help us recognize and live into the fullest expression
of our shared humanity.
Two of these drawings appeared
with my article, "God is Just...Am I?", that appeared in the national newsletter,
Groundwork for a Just World, (Vol.14, No. 2) November 8, 1989.
©1989-99 Patricia Lay-Dorsey. Please
use with attribution.
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