Welcome to the conversation!

Welcome to the conversation!

Harriet Beecher Stowe's (1811-1896) best-selling anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852), made her the most famous American woman of the 19th century and galvanized the abolition movement before the Civil War.

The Stowe Center is a 21st-century museum and program center using Stowe's story to inspire social justice and positive change.

The Salons at Stowe programs are a forum to connect the challenging issues (race, gender and class) that impelled Stowe to write and act with the contemporary face of those same issues. The Salon format is based on a robust level of audience participation, with the explicit goal of promoting civic engagement. Recent topics included: Teaching Acceptance; Is Prison the New Slavery; Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North; Creativity and Change; Race, Gender and Politics Today; How to be an Advocate

This blog will expand the reach of these community conversations to the online audience. Add your posts and comments to keep the conversation going! Commit to action by clicking HERE to stay up to date on Salon and social justice news.

For updates on Stowe Center programs and events, sign up for our enews at http://harrietbeecherstowe.org/email.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Being "Color Brave" over "Color Blind"

The existence of race as a point of discussion is largely subject to greater national policies surrounding issues of racial equality and discrimination. Just as the politics circulating race have shifted, the ways in which we talk about race have changed as well. In the mid-20th century, as overt forms of racism gave way to more subtle institutional discrimination, the term "color blind" appeared in American lexicon. Largely deployed by well-intentioned, but unaware individuals, the term is used to indicate that "one does not see color" in social, political, or cultural contexts. Seemingly benign, this term actually shrouds the still existent biases and inequities towards members of marginalized races. In recent years however, individuals have taken aim at color-blindness with the intention to create more direct conversation about racism, implicit bias, and equality.

Mellody Hobson, Chairwomen of Dreamworks Animation and President of Ariel Investments, implores listeners in a recent Ted Talk to be "color brave" instead of "color blind." In a humorous, yet powerful 14-minute presentation, Hobson outlines the ways in which race operates as a "third rail" for social conversations, and how our fear over potential controversy while discussing race has prevented real, substantive progress in matters of equality.  

Hobson begins by declaring, "The first step to solving any problem is not hide from it...and the first step to any form of action is awareness." She then encourages listeners to be aware that talking about race is uncomfortable, but that we should embrace this discomfort and approach conversations with boldness.

She then concludes by stating:"We can not afford to be color blind, we have to be color brave."

What do you think of "color blindness"? Have you ever heard anyone identify as "color blind" or say "they don't see color"? In what ways can we be more deliberate in how we approach race? Hobson finishes her speech with a call to action, claiming anyone, from corporate executives to farmers, can be more bold about race. With the ongoing protests in Ferguson and across the country, the need for honest conversation about race has become more important than ever.  How will you take on Hobson's challenge and what will you do to enact more bold and brave conversations about race?

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