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    Conversations on Peace

December 22, 2015

CONVERSATIONS ON RACE: Moving Out of My Cocoon

By Haven McLaughlin, Valencia College Peace & Justice Institute Ambassador
This article originally appeared in the Valencia College PJI Newsletter.

During my time with the Peace and Justice Institute, I have had a plethora of good experiences. This is especially true of the ones that dealt with social justice. One such experience was from the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation’s Conversations on Race workshop. It has stood out to me as the most interesting and one of the most profound experiences during my tenure as a PJI Ambassador.

When the presentation that declared race as a construction of human design and culture was shown, it was a rather shocking revelation that piqued my interest to actually think about how there truly wasn’t much of a real biological alteration that dictated race. We are human after all, but we are also so different and unique at the same time. We were asked to move in to small groups of approximately four to five people and urged to have different races in our group. The majority of the event comprised of prompts appearing on the screen with instructions for each member in the small group to discuss their stories and personal experiences.

Participants enjoying a lively conversation.

You can show people the statistics and provide logic, however, nothing can truly compare to another person’s experience firsthand when they regale some of the difficult situations they faced or the injustice they may have seen. After I heard these personal experiences it was easy for me to empathize with them and I felt like it helped me to better understand this issue that I had removed myself from without being detached or cynical. Read More