Baha'i Club hosts 'A Dialogue for the Healing of Racism'
By Rebecca Emmerich
Aggie News Writer
In response to the recent hate crimes and mural defacements at UC Davis, the Baha'i Club hosted "A Dialogue for the Healing of Racism," a program designed to bring people together in a comfortable atmosphere to learn new information, share their experiences and heal racism from within and without.
The Baha'i Club is a multicultural group dedicated to promoting unity in diversity and racial harmony on campus.
"Our club really strives to bring about racial equality through unity in diversity," Baha'i Club member Clayton Russell said. "This is the third year we've done this program, and we hope that in light of the hate crimes there will be a lot of support for it."
According to Russell, the purpose of the workshop is to, "provide a mechanism for people to get together and talk about their feelings and experiences, and to also provide solutions for people to take with them and use in their own life."
Baha'i Club member Andrea Atkinson said she feels the dialogue is a good way to combat the feelings of hatred felt on campus after the hate crimes.
"If people don't talk, the tension will simply build until it explodes," she said. "Just having a place to come together to talk about the whole issue will diffuse the frustration and move it in a positive direction."
Atkinson also noted that knowing how racism is sustained will help promote awareness about how to break its destructive cycle.
"By learning how these prejudices are being perpetuated, people are better empowered to respond to what is happening around them," she said. "They become more aware of what the problem is, and they become better listeners.
"Racism in this country is not something that can be healed overnight, but we have to start somewhere," she added.
The dialogue began with an introduction by Taliba Sun-Boothe, a trained facilitator on race relations. Sun-Boothe divided the group into pairs, and each discussed their heritage and feelings toward their own race or races.
Individuals subsequently introduced their partners to the entire group. Following the introductions, the partners discussed their personal experiences and encounters with racism.
Those attending then viewed the movie, The Color of Fear, whose filmmaker, Lee Mun Wah, is a Chinese man whose mother was killed by an African American male.
The film depicts several of Mun Wah's friends from different ethnic backgrounds, who come together for a weekend to talk about racism.
After the film, Sun-Boothe allowed the members of the group to share their reactions, and noted that dialogues, such as the one in the film, will help to encourage race relations in the future.
"The process is to start healing -- to start dialogue between people to discourage the judgment and misconceptions that often occur between the different races," she said.
The second part of the dialogue included a workshop that sought to define racism and provide solutions on how to promote race relations.
Baha'i Club members explained suggestions they have developed for achieving race relations, which lie in the acronym SOAPS -- self-examination, oneness of humanity, ally-building, promoting justice and seeking true fellowship.
Following this explanation, the larger group was again split into smaller groups that examined these solutions and presented their ideas to the entire forum.
The encompassing idea and theme of the workshop lie in the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.
"Men hate each other because they fear each other, and they fear each other, because they don't know each other, and they don't know each other because they are often separated from each other," King once said.
The program was co-sponsored by the Cross-Cultural Center, and supported by African Continuum, African American studies, Asian American studies, Native American studies and the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs.
Another session of the program, with Sandra MacDonald as facilitator, will take place May 17 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in 226 Wellman.
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