Healing racism through conversation | life lessons

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Institutional racism, diversity and inclusion, safe spaces, critical race theory – these are all terms that have come into the spotlight since May 2020, after a 9 minute, 29 second video showed a police officer kneeling on George Floyd’s neck. He died and polarizing conversations developed around race. Now, an organization that has had this conversation for more than three decades is shining a light on how we can have conversations about race more effectively.

“It’s one of those conversations that even though you recognize it, you don’t want to have that conversation, so you find ways not to,” said Cherry Steinwender, executive director and co-founder of the Center for the Healing of Racism. .

Steinwinder has had conversations about race for over 30 years. It all started when she and a group of multi-ethnic friends would meet and have open conversations about racism around the kitchen table.

“Being totally transparent was creating something in us, maybe we could call it healing,” Steinwender says.

It was then that the Center for the Cure of Racism was born. The center runs workshops for groups of all races to have an educational dialogue where they confront stereotypes, discuss issues of racism and its impact and racial conditioning.

Steinwender thinks talking is the beginning of understanding racism.

“When we don’t talk about anything, we don’t know anything. Falling ill with the disease of racism was not your fault, but healing is your responsibility,” she said.

Those who attend the workshop learn techniques on how to talk about racism.

“’Would you be interested in sitting down with me and talking about our racial conditioning?’ It’s a very different question and a very different opening to ‘I don’t like what you just said,'” she said.

Starting this conversation can be eye-opening.

“We may have different hues and have different characteristics, but we have at least 98 points of DNA in common,” Steinwender says.

Steinwender thinks parents should start talking to their kids about race early. The center organizes workshops for children from preschool age, and Steinwender uses bread to teach children about cultures. She says that even though bread comes from different regions and in various shapes, sizes and colors, it is still bread, just like people.

For her work, she received the Gandhi, King, Ikeda and Diversity Champion Award.

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