Let’s Talk About Race
Talking about race is hard. It can make people uncomfortable and defensive.
This summer, as the administrative intern at NCCD, I was lucky enough to be part of a training seminar about the history of racism in the United States and how to have difficult conversations surrounding race. During the week of June 25, training participants worked with two consultant groups, Race Forward and the YWCA. Part of their job was to teach us how to be explicit when it comes to talking about race. In this training, I also learned what the word “diversity” really means and that racial justice is the systemic fair treatment of people of all races that results in equitable opportunities and outcomes for all.
Learning that there are different dimensions of racism—internalized, interpersonal, institutional, and structural—was eye opening. We are not always aware of the racism that is present within our school systems, our jobs, and even our peers. We can change our internalized racism by re-training our brain to stop our use of implicit bias and have us think before doing anything.
We should be explicit, not exclusive, and focus on making everyone feel welcome. As the training went on for three days I learned that change is hard in any environment, and it takes time and commitment from everyone. At NCCD, the Diversity and Inclusion Committee is setting up a meeting to come up with a game plan. They are in the process of creating a new tool to share with each internal team. The purpose is to have opportunities to discuss, identify strategies for transformation, and do their work outside the traditional organizational power dynamics.
I am happy to say that I learned a lot from just a few days of training, and I am excited to see where NCCD goes from here. I will take this training into my day-to-day life to reshape my implicit bias when it comes to race.
One thing I took away from the training is a quote from Dan Wilkins, an outspoken advocate for people with disabilities: “A community that excludes even one member, is no community at all.” This really resonated with me because this happens every day, no matter where or what the issue is.
Eduardo Castillo is a high school student in Madison, Wisconsin. He had a six-week internship at NCCD over the summer through the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County, Wisconsin.