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.

Monday, July 6, 2015

#StoweSalonsatLunch: Charleston Recap

On July 1st, the Stowe Center presented the first Stowe Salons at Lunch, a program in which members of the public gather for a facilitated conversation on a pressing current events issue of the week.  The first Stowe Salon at Lunch focused on Charleston and the related issues of white supremacy, privilege, violence against people of color, and racism. Unlike traditional Salon programs, where featured guests serve as experts of the topic being discussed and curate the discussion accordingly, this conversation was fueled by the stories, experiences, and knowledge of participants. Stowe Center Executive Director, Katherine Kane, began the conversation by asking "How does what happened in Charleston connect to Hartford and Connecticut?"

Participants responded by sharing stories of experience racism in Hartford, Connecticut, and other Northern states, including one guests describing that though she grew up in the South, she experienced "real racism" when she moved to Connecticut. She noted that though symbols like the Confederate flag are prominent in the South, segregation based on race and class is a defining feature of Northern cities and towns.

Matt Davies, June 22, 2015, Newsweek

The conversation shifted to discuss white supremacy and white privilege and the ways in which white individuals can often ignore the realities faced by people of color. One such reality is the violence, whether by police or by white supremacists like Dylan Roof, towards people of color. Participants also noted the unfair burden and assumption often placed on people of color to forgive attackers, whether they be Dylan Roof in Charleston or Darren Wilson in Ferguson. One participant proclaimed, "I am so sick of being expected to forgive after something like this happens. Did anyone ask white parents to forgive after Newtown?"

Participants also discussed the ways in which implicit bias (the subject of the next Salon at Stowe), or unconscious attitudes that affect our understanding and perception of others, result in the perpetuation of stereotypes toward people of color. One participant noted that "If a black person wears baggy pants or has tattoos, then people will make assumptions that they are a thug or a criminal, no matter what that person actually does. Even if they are not wearing baggy clothes, people [white people] will make assumptions, often negative, just because of how they look."  

The conversation ended with a guest proclaiming a simple, yet understated solution directed towards white people: "Just listen. Listen to those who have different life experiences than you, and believe what they are saying."

Did you attend the fist Stowe Salon at Lunch? Will you attend the next one? What steps do you think can be taken to improve our cities, state, and nation? What will you add to the discussion?  

No comments: