By Vickie M. Fouts
The Uprooting Racism Project grew out of a book discussion using Uprooting Racism: How White People Can Work for Racial Justice by Paul Kivel. It was sponsored by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) and facilitated by Fresno State’s National Coalition Building Institute in 2006. The project’s mission is to uproot racism on a personal, institutional and systemic level in the Fresno area.
With the recent backlash, nationally and locally, around #BlackLivesMatter and the continual killing of people of color, it seemed it was time, really past time, to bring back the Uprooting Racism Project in Fresno. Add to that the hatred, intolerance and ignorance that can be found in the news by public figures and the public comments on those news stories.
On Sept. 26, the Uprooting Racism Project screened Mirrors of Privilege: Making Whiteness Visible with discussions during and after the film. About 24 people attended ranging in age from a baby to senior citizens. Several attendees were college students and professors, with five persons coming all the way from Modesto Junior College. It was a diverse group with African Americans, Latino/as and Whites coming together to learn about and discuss White privilege.
The event was well received. People shared their feelings on how the film affected them and how racism in general affected them. It seemed that everyone left with a better understanding of what White privilege is and how it affects everyone.
Many voiced a desire to share the film with family and friends. A professor from Clovis Community College plans to share it with her students. The Uprooting Racism Project intends to share it at house parties and other ways with a possible future showing of the film with the Ethics Center of Fresno State.
The Uprooting Racism Project’s last event was an Islamic Cultural and Religious Diversity Workshop conducted by the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno on Nov. 14. It included basic Muslim beliefs and Islamic practices, holidays and rituals, Islamophobia and hate crimes, contributions of American Muslims and American Muslim identity.
As with #BlackLivesMatter, the hate, intolerance and ignorance in the news today from Republican Presidential candidates, the arrest of a Muslim student for bringing a homemade clock to school, the negative rhetoric surrounding Syrian refugees and the terrorist attacks in Paris just the day before the event made it a timely discussion. The event was well received with education around misconceptions and stereotypes.
The next event will be a screening of Cracking the Codes: The System of Racial Inequity with discussion. It will be held on Jan. 9, 1 p.m.–3:30 p.m., at the African American Historical and Cultural Museum (1857 Fulton St.).
The Uprooting Racism Project is also looking into redoing past events such as book discussions using Uprooting Racism: How White People Can Work for Racial Justice and The Color of Wealth: The Story Behind the U.S. Racial Wealth Divide along with the film Tim Wise: On White Privilege—Racism, White Denial and the Cost of Inequality.
Education is a wonderful tool for bringing about positive change in society such as dealing with White privilege, racism and bigotry, intolerance and ignorance. For information on Uprooting Racism Project events, contact socialjustice@ sti.net or 559-658-8260 or view www.facebook/Uprooting-Racism-Project.
Vickie Fouts is a social justice activist. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.