“Crises are rich opportunities,” asserts Tricia Rose, director of the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America (CSREA). “For example, after the last presidential election, many people across the political spectrum were confused and concerned about the state of race and the anti-immigrant tenor of the public conversation. They also wanted to learn more and consider pathways forward.”
So the CSREA, a leading voice on complex and important social issues, responded with a range of programs. One was “ARTivism: Power, Healing, and the 2016 Presidential Elections,” an art exhibition that encouraged students to recognize their own power when it comes to elections, and to express their thoughts and feelings about belonging and the current political state of affairs.
Next the center funded a dialogue by two respected scholars on immigration and the move to ban Muslim immigrants. Later in the year, CSREA organized a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals teach-in that complemented its five-part year-long “Critical Migrations and Refugee Studies” lecture series and a symposium on “Immigration and the Politics of Belonging.”
And then...Charlottesville happened.
“We felt it was important to explore this painful event in enriching ways that only research units committed to accessible real-world application can,” says Rose. “And the white supremacy march at the University of Virginia offered a striking opportunity for reflection and learning.”
The result was a conversation with Shannon Sullivan, chair and professor of philosophy at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. An expert on race and white identity and herself a southern white woman, she was invited to talk about her book entitled “Good White People: The Problem with Middle-Class White Anti-Racism.”
“The Parent’s Weekend forum was called ‘Good White People after Charlottesville,’” remembers Rose. “I opted for an interview style format in order to include the audience in the conversation from the start. We were packed! Professor Sullivan did a wonderful job engaging the insights of more than 200 Brown parents and students. The conversation was filled with such grace and patience, it was fantastic. I learned so much.”
As did many of the attendees.