Workshop Explores Race Relations in Our Community

By Richards, Sally | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), June 15, 2002 | Go to article overview

Workshop Explores Race Relations in Our Community


Richards, Sally, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Sally Richards Special to the Daily Herald

The Wheaton Franciscan sisters and staff have made a commitment to non-violence since 1997.

That's why they began organizing a workshop and debate on racial relations more than six months before it actually happened May 25 at Our Lady of the Angels Auditorium in Wheaton.

The debate began with a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. read by Sister Sheila Kinsey, coordinator of the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Office for the Wheaton Franciscans.

"'True peace is not the absence of conflict, but the presence of justice,'" Kinsey quoted. "Today we are about exploring ways to promote racial justice."

The day focused on three goals: examining diverse ways society experiences racism, perception and knowledge of racism and proactive ways to solve racism.

As a way to explore those issues, four categories of racial discrimination were illustrated based on the book, "Dwell in my Love" by Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago.

According to his pastoral letter on racism, there are four subtle racial discriminatory categories existing in our communities: spatial racism in the form of affluent whites leaving minorities in deteriorating areas; institutional racism like school segregation; internalized racism, when society naively responds to violent acts; and individual racism of growing up with a sense of white supremacy.

Throughout the day, Terry Keleher, action education program director at the Applied Research Center, acted as the facilitator of the debate workshop.

He stressed institutional racism as being one of the most persuasive forms of racism.

"That's even more widespread, resulting in unequal treatment and opportunities based on race," Keleher said.

"But racial inequality continues to be widespread," he added. "There are new forms of racial discrimination that are often complex and subtle, but still very devastating - such as racial profiling and so-called 'colorblind' policy proposals that try and conceal racial disparities."

Alysia Tate, editor and publisher of The Chicago Reporter, an investigative publication covering race and poverty, was the keynote speaker.

Tate, a former Daily Herald staff writer, shared personal memories of having African-American and Caucasian biracial heritage and intimately learning two diverse cultures while growing up. …

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