Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Race Amity over Enmity Focus of Recent Conference

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Race Amity over Enmity Focus of Recent Conference

Article excerpt

Though history books and contemporary media are replete with accounts of enmity between the races, there is a long history of race amity that has not received the same level of attention, said Dr. William "Smitty" H. Smith, founding executive director of the National Center for Race Amity at Wheelock College in Boston.

Such was one of the dominant themes of the 2015 National Race Amity Conference held last month in Boston. This year marks the fifth anniversary of the Race Amity Conference, which was themed, "The Impact of Media and Education on the Other Tradition."

"While we're all familiar with the tradition of racism in America, there's always been a parallel moral counterweight, always pushback," Smith said, adding that advances in race relations have developed "from organized and not-so-organized collaborations across racial and cultural lines."

As examples of race amity progress, Smith cited the founding and organization of the NAACP and Urban League, the abolitionist movement and even Bacon's Rebellion in 1605. In all these movements, "you will find close, cross-racial, cross-cultural collaboration and friendship. We need to examine this model, and look at this, because it says something different about who we are," Smith said.

"Its ahistorical to ignore the fact that, in history, [there's] been a huge effort, informal effort, for African-Americans and Whites to get along. But it hasn't been seen as the central pole of what is needed," said Dr. Peggy Mcintosh, director of the Gender, Race, and Inclusive Education Project at the Wellesley Centers for Women.

Thus, racial conflict "is the norm, partly because writers of history books and newspaper articles--they think it's not news if there isn't fighting. They look for conflict. Or, if not for conflict, for attempts to get in control," added Mcintosh, who delivered the opening keynote for this year's conference.

Dr. Joe Atkins, assistant dean of students and coordinator of Multicultural and Student Programs at Colby College, said that, when young people witness the prevailing metanarratives of racial strife, they can believe that such problems cannot be solved. …

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