Over the weekend the Dominicans Sisters of Springfield hosted an antiracism training. The two and a half day training took place to create a shared language about systemic racism and how it operates in society. The institutions that were represented took an inward-looking approach to their role in systemic racism and analyzed the impacts on their communities. The participants created a timeline — a wall of history as large as a billboard — that displayed the causes of racism and resistance against racism, revealing that resistance against racism has dwindled over the years despite some progress. The group explored the historical development of institutional racism and how it continues to impact society in the United States today.
To begin the conversation on how to dismantle racism, the group first had to define what racism is and explore the individual, institutional and cultural roles in racism. The group analyzed the question, ‘why are people poor?’ and examined, in detail, the decision-makers inside institutions who are accountable for making the rules to keep a certain portion of the population in poverty. The system of power that provides, preserves and protects white privilege was studied along with the multigenerational process of keeping the foot of power on poor people of color. Less obvious power dynamics were discussed such as racism’s power to socialize American society by manipulating the identity of individuals, institutions and culture.
Seasoned veterans of antiracism training and newcomers alike expressed that this was the best incarnation of antiracism training that they have participated in. The Understanding & Analyzing Systemic Racism Workshop facilitated by Crossroads Antiracism Organizing & Training and Springfield Coalition for Dismantling Racism (SCODR) was a success in challenging participants’ worldview while energizing everyone involved to renew their antiracism work within their respective organizations.