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.

Friday, July 10, 2015

#StoweSalonsatLunch: Charleston Part 2 Recap

In continuation of the first Stowe Salon at Lunch on July 1st, participants gathered once again to discuss the implications of the shooting in Charleston and the current politics surrounding racism and race relations.

The conversation began with an excerpt of Mellody Hobson's (Chairperson of the Board of Directors at Dreamworks Animation) viral TEDtalk, "Color Blind or Color Brave?" 

"You see, researchers have coined the term “color blindness” to describe a learned behavior where some people pretend they don’t even notice race. If they happen to surround themselves with people from their own race, it’s purely accidental. But color blindness doesn’t mean that we’re exhibiting a lack of prejudice. Color blindness means that we’re ignoring the problem." 

From the excerpted quote, the conversation delved into the meaning of the terms "color blind" and "color brave" and the ways in which explicit conversations about race can be brought to spaces, particularly white spaces, in which these discussion do not happen. One participant asked the group why there is such a fear to engage in these discussions. In response, one participant offered that for white people, who occupy political, social, and economic privilege due to their racial identity, these discussions threaten this state of privilege. To acknowledge that there are certain privileges granted based on race requires and work towards racial equity, requires white individuals to release some of the power granted by their skin color.
When one women expressed that she often feels guilty as a white person when discussing American history, several participants of color in the discussion expressed that one should not feel guilty, but rather take those emotions and propel them into action on issues of racial justice and equity. Drawn from these points was the topic of black liberation, and the question of what a movement focused on black liberation would look like. One participant noted that a movement focused on liberation would not concern itself with matters of white guilt.

The conversation ended with a call to action and a question of when direct action, not just conversation, will begin on matters of racial equity. One participant exclaimed that changes [political, economic] need to start soon or else people will take matters into their own hand:"People of color will do more than march and who will be the John Browns who join them?"

Join us at the Stowe Center next week on July 15th for the third installment of the Stowe Salons at Lunch series. The conversation will focus on the Confederate flag and symbols of white supremacy. What are the power of these symbols? What do they mean for racial equity? What do they say about the history and present state of the U.S.? 

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