Friday, March 25, 2016

Working on my own racism

Today I attended a talk by Dr. Todd E. Robinson, author of A City within a City: The Black Freedom Struggle in Grand Rapids, Michigan and Dr. Louis Moore, about historic racism in GR and how we can do better presently at GVSU and in GR. One of our Financial Aid staff mentioned BL²END, which connects business leaders to
"young professionals of color to learn, network, grow and become engaged in the Grand Rapids community." Today's speakers' advice for caucasians was to go to the neighborhoods and shop at places we might not usually be in, to put ourselves into our discomfort zones, to interact and communicate with people who are different from ourselves. I liked BL²END's fb page.

Earlier in the semester, I worked with a student whose thesis was that the Black Panthers were not a "radical" group in the socially negative sense. I was happy to connect him to the Articles/Databases page of the Library Subject Guide for African American Studies, to find first-hand, participatory and observed accounts from African Americans.

A couple of weeks ago, we watched The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, a documentary which was fascinating and worth watching multiple times. I also just finished reading Rita Williams-Garcia's book One Crazy Summer, which set 3 young girls in Oakland, CA, in 1968, interacting with the Black Panthers. Both the film and book showed me that there were really positive aspects of the Panthers, e.g., African American men cooking and serving free breakfasts, the summer camps for youngsters, and the power of a kitchen printing press-produced poster of 20 copies bringing over 1,000 people to a rally.

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