Community Conversations

Made possible with generous support from the National Center for Institutional Diversity.

Share YOUR voice!

Community Conversations are offered as part of the Understanding Race Project, an audience engagement effort launched in support of the Race: Are we so different? exhibit coming to the U-M Museum of Natural History from February 9–August 11, 2013.

Community Conversations provide a safe place to talk about race with friends, neighbors, and new acquaintances. Our goal is to bring members of the community together to exchange information, share experiences, honestly express perspectives, clarify viewpoints, build community, and provide a space for racial healing and creation of equality.

Offered since January 2012, a complete list of past Community Conversations is listed below. More than 600 people have participated to date.

Two Conversations are offered each month, each with the same agenda. We hope that by varying the time of day and the location, more people will be able to participate.

Refreshments are provided. RSVP to sablanks@umich.edu to help us plan for materials and snacks. Bring teens and an open mind!

 

2013 Community Conversations

January 2013

January 2013

Colorblind: How Not Seeing “Color” Actually Hinders Justice and Equality

Tuesday, January 22, 6:00–9:00 PM
Sunward Cohousing Community Common House
424 Little Lake Dr., Ann Arbor, MI 48103

AND / OR (same agenda at each meeting)

Wednesday, January 23, 11:00 AM–2:00 PM
Washtenaw County Learning Resource Center (on the Sheriff’s Department Campus)
4135 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor, MI, 48108

We often hear people adopt an approach of “colorblindness” and try to minimize or ignore “racial” differences. “I don’t even see color. We’re all just human and I treat everybody the same.” This month, we’ll explore this approach of ignoring race. Is it possible to truly be “colorblind?” How has this played out historically in the U.S., and how does “colorblindness” currently affect systems of education, employment, and criminal justice? Could it possibly do more harm than good?

We invite community members to share their thoughts through a facilitated conversation. Please bring teens, a friend, your voice, and an open mind.

Refreshments will be served. RSVPs are not required, but appreciated for planning appropriately. RSVP to sablanks@umich.edu.

February 2013

Race and Health

Tuesday, February 19, 6:00-9:00 PM

Washtenaw County Public Health Department, Room 1120, 555 Towner, Ypsilanti, MI

Why are there racial differences in health? There’s more to our well-being than genes, personal choices and medical care. Racism and social inequity can get under our skin and disrupt our biology as surely as germs and viruses. Join us for a facilitated conversation
on the connections between racism and health. Share your thoughts and learn from others. Bring an open mind and a friend!

This event is part of the Understanding Race Project and co-sponsored by the Washtenaw County Public Health Department and the U-M National Center for Institutional Diversity.  It is free and open to the public.

Dinner will be served. RSVPs are not required, but appreciated for planning appropriately. RSVP to sablanks@umich.edu.

March 2013

Biases: Conscious and Unconscious

 

Tuesday, March 19, 6:00-9:00 PM

Eastern Michigan University Student Center - Room 352

 

AND/OR (same agenda at each meeting)

 

Wednesday, March 20, 11:00 AM - 2:00 PM

Eastern Michigan University Student Center - Room 352

 

Each of us has lived lives rich with experiences which shape how we view the world and the people in it.  Some of our beliefs are conscious, and others are unconscious.  Some are "nice," others are not so "nice."  How do individual biases intersect with racism systematically?  Join us for an opportunity of deep introspection and community building.  Bring an open mind, a friend, and your voice!

This event is co-sponsored by the Eastern Michigan University Office of Urban, Community, and International Outreach and the U-M National Center for Institutional Diversity.  It is free and open to the public.

Refreshments will be served.  RSVPs are not required but are appreciated so we can plan appropriately.  RSVP to sablanks@umich.edu.

April 2013

Community Conversation: Immigration

Friday, April 5, 2013

6:00 - 9:00 PM

Location: Peace Neighborhood Center, 1111 North Maple Rd., Ann Arbor

 

With immigration reform policies rising to the top of the national political agenda, this conversation sponsored by the Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights provides the larger community the opportunity for inter-group dialog with our immigrant community members who have been the targets of increased immigration enforcement in the Washtenaw County area.  The intersecting identities of race, national origin, immigration status, and language, as well as, social justice issues involving the criminalization of immigrant communities and the separation of families will be explored.  Come out to participate in enlightening conversation.

 

Community Conversations provide a safe place to talk about race with friends, neighbors, and new acquaintances. Our goal is to bring members of the community together to exchange information, share experiences, honestly express perspectives, clarify viewpoints, build community, and provide a space for racial healing and creation of equality.

We invite community members to share their thoughts through a facilitated conversation. Please bring teens, a friend, your voice, and an open mind.

Refreshments will be served. RSVPs are not required, but appreciated for planning appropriately. RSVP to sablanks@umich.edu.

 

May 2013

May Community Conversation

Interrupting Racism: Practicing the Skills of Creative Intervention

Saturday, May 11 from 1:00 - 4:00 PM

Location: Zing Train, 3728 Plaza Drive Ann Arbor, MI 48104

 

We’ve all experienced times when we failed to speak up and challenge racist behaviors, remarks, or policies. The reason for our silence can stem from many sources, depending on the situation. We may not be able to find the right words or formulate an adequate response. We may feel there is too much at stake for us. We may fear that we will do more harm than good.

This facilitated conversation will provide an opportunity to explore positive approaches to confronting offensive or oppressive words, actions, and policies. In a supportive group setting, we will practice the skills of interrupting and challenging racism as well as examine the dynamics that can lead to authentic dialogue and change.

Shayla R. Griffin is a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the Center for the Study of Black Youth in Context in the UM-School of Education. She has designed and facilitated social justice trainings for teachers and students in Detroit, Washtenaw County, Oakland County, Taylor, and Warren. Currently, Shayla is writing a book about race relations in high schools. In August 2012, she co-facilitated the Understanding Race Summer Institute for K-12 Teachers in Washtenaw County with Melanie Morrison.

Melanie S. Morrison is director of Allies for Change (www.alliesforchange.org) and an anti-oppression educator with 25 years experience designing and facilitating transformational group process. In 1994, she founded Doing Our Own Work, an intensive anti-racism program for white allies who seek to deepen their commitment to confronting and challenging racism and white privilege. Melanie believes it is possible to grow ever more aware of the depth and complexity of injustice without surrendering our capacity for compassion, joy, and hope.
Refreshments will be served. 

 

RSVPs are not required, but appreciated for planning appropriately. RSVP to sablanks@umich.edu.

 

The May 2013 Community Conversation is made possible by support from Zingerman's Community of Businesses and the National Center for Institutional Diversity.

June 2013

In It for the Long Haul:
Nurturing and Sustaining the Work for Racial Justice over Time

Saturday, June 8th
1:00 - 4:00 pm

Location: United Way of Washtenaw County
2305 Platt Road, Ann Arbor, MI

 

What does it take to nurture and sustain work for racial justice over time? What are the costs,
benefits, detours and possibilities if I choose to do this work for the long haul, if I identify as a
person of color, or if I identify as a white person? And is dialogue enough, or is there more that
is needed to build welcoming and inclusive environments in which all are affirmed and have the
opportunity to succeed? How does privilege inform our responses to these questions?

Through a series of interactive activities and guided dialogues, participants in this session will
explore these and other issues as we continue to move through the complex and life giving
work of racial justice at the personal, interpersonal, institutional and cultural levels.

Co-Facilitated by: Dionardo Pizaña and Aaron Wilson-Ahlstrom of Allies for Change

Refreshments will be served

This event is a part of the Understanding Race Project and co-sponsored by the United Way of Washtenaw County and the National Center for Institutional Diversity. It is free and open to the public. Visit www.UnderstandingRaceProject.org for additional events.

2012 Community Conversations

January 2012

Agenda: Exploration. What is the state of race relations in our community?
Date: Tuesday, January 17; 3:00 PM–5:00 PM
Location: The Hope Clinic 518 Harriet Street, Ypsilanti, MI 48197–5358
Facilitator: Zarinah El-Amin Naeem, Community Engagement Liaison, Understanding Race Project

February 2012

Agenda: Exploration continued. What can a dialogue on race in our community address?
Date: Wednesday, February 15; 6:30–8:30 PM
Location: Peace Neighborhood Center, 1111 North Maple Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Facilitator: Rosemary Linares, Founder and President, Cross Movement Social Justice Consulting

March 2012

Agenda: "The Social Construction of RACE"
Date: Tuesday, March 13; 11:00 AM–1:00 PM
Location: Sunward Cohousing Community, 424 Little Lake Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48103
and/or Date: Saturday, March 17; 1:00 PM–3:00 PM
Location: Ypsilanti Middle School Media Center, 105 N. Mansfield St., Ypsilanti, MI 48197
Facilitator: Shari Robinson-Lynk, Director, Project Community, Ginsberg Center, University of Michigan; Co-Chair, Understanding Race Theme Semester; and over the past ten years, part-time instructor, guest speaker and professional development facilitator in the areas of social work diversity and cultural anthropology at Wayne State University, Michigan State University, Eastern Michigan University and Washtenaw Community College.

April 2012

Agenda: Working backwards. We see the goal….how do we get there?
Date: Tuesday, April 17; 6:30 PM–8:30 PM
Location: Traverwood Branch, Ann Arbor Public Library, 3333 Traverwood Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48105
and/or Date: Wednesday, April 18; 11:00 AM–1:00 PM
Location: The Hope Clinic 518 Harriet St. Ypsilanti, MI
Facilitator: Dessa Cosma, Program Director for Center for Progressive Leadership, as well as a student in Marygrove’s Masters of Social Justice program.

May 2012

Agenda: Collective Vision And Collective Planning around RACE
Date: Wednesday, May 9; 10:30 AM–1:00 PM
Location: Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice, 1679 Broadway St, Ann Arbor, MI 48105
and/or Date: Thursday, May 10; 6:00 PM–8:30 PM
Location: Carpenter Elementary School, 4250 Central Boulevard, Ann Arbor, MI 48108
Facilitator: Zarinah El-Amin Naeem, Community Engagement Liaison, Understanding Race Project

June 2012

Agenda: Our Story: Racial Justice Community Scan/ Community Mapping in preparation for the “Race in this Place” local exhibit at the U-M Museum of Natural History
Date: Tuesday, June 12; 6:00 PM–9:00 PM
Location: Pittsfield Charter Township Building, 6201 W. Michigan Ave., Ann Arbor
and/or Date: Wednesday, June 13; 11:00 AM–2:00 PM
Location: Great Oak Cohousing Common House, 500 Little Lake Dr., Ann Arbor, MI 48103
Facilitators: Zarinah El-Amin Naeem, Community Engagement Liaison, Understanding Race Project
Abigail Celis, University of Michigan PhD Candidate; Arts of Citizenship Program graduate student intern at the U-M Museum of Natural History

July 2012

Agenda: How Society “Plays” Race
Date: Tuesday, July 10; 6:00 PM–9:00 PM
Location: Parkway Meadows Club House 2575 Sandalwood Circle, Ann Arbor, MI 48105
and/or Date: Wednesday, July 11; 11:00 AM–2:00 PM
Location: Learning Resource Center at 4135 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor, MI 48108
Facilitator: Shari Robinson-Lynk, Director, Project Community, Ginsberg Center, University of Michigan; Co-Chair, Understanding Race Theme Semester; and over the past ten years, part-time instructor, guest speaker and professional development facilitator in the areas of social work diversity and cultural anthropology at Wayne State University, Michigan State University, Eastern Michigan University and Washtenaw Community College

August 2012

No Meeting

September 2012

Community Leadership Meeting
Wednesday, September 12, 9:30 AM–11:30 AM
Traverwood Branch, Ann Arbor District Library, 3333 Traverwood Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48105

Community Conversation:

Agenda: On the Ground Case Study — Calhoun Race Impact Alliance (C.R.I.A.)
Date: Tuesday, September 18; 6:00 PM–9:00 PM
Location: Rudolf Steiner High School, 2230 Pontiac Trail, Ann Arbor
and/or Date: Wednesday, September 19; 1:00 PM–2:00 PM
Location: Learning Resource Center 4135 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor, MI, 48108 (next to the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office)
Facilitator: J.R, Reynolds, Director CRIA, Calhoun Race Impact Alliance of Calhoun County, Michigan

October 2012

Agenda: The Timeline of Privilege
Date: Tuesday, October 16; 6:00 PM–9:00 PM
Location: Arrowwood Hills Cooperative, Community Center 2566 Arrowwood Trail, Ann Arbor Charter Township, MI 48105
and/or Date: Wednesday, October 17; 11:00 AM–2:00 PM
Location: Peace Neighborhood Center, 1111 North Maple Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48103
Facilitator: La'Ron Williams, Ann Arbor-based activist and cultural storyteller

November 2012

Agenda: “Doing Race in 2012: An Opportunity to Explore Meaning and Dismantle Assumptions"
Date: Tuesday, November 13; 6:00–9:00 PM
Location: 101 Morris Lawrence Building, Washtenaw Community College
and/or Date: Wednesday, November 14; 11:00 AM–2:00 PM
Location: 150 Morris Lawrence Building, Washtenaw Community College
Facilitator: Angela K. Guy-Lee, doctoral student in Medical Anthropology at Wayne State University and instructor, Washtenaw Community College (Angela teaches Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, Sociology of Race and Ethnic Relations, and Principles of Sociology)

December 2012

Agenda: Becoming a Social Activist
Date: Tuesday, December 4; 6:00 PM–9:00 PM
Location: Rudolf Steiner High School, 2230 Pontiac Trail, Ann Arbor, MI
Facilitator: Amer Ahmed, Associate Director of Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs, University of Michigan; Associate Faculty, Summer Institute for Intercultural Communication; member of SpeakOut: Institute for Democratic Leadership and Culture; Co-Chair, Board of Directors, Hip Hop Congress.