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, August 26, 2015

StoweSalonsatLunch: School Integration and Segregation

In honor of back to school season, the final Stowe Salon at Lunch of the summer will be on the topic of school integration and segregation.

Check out these two pieces for background information! Class Notes: What's really at stake when a school closes by Jelani Cobb, and The Problem We All Live With, from This American Life.

Did you attend a diverse, integrated school? Do your children? What are the best models for school reform? How do we achieve equity in education? 

#StoweSalonsatLunch Recap: The Mutual Interest in Ending Racism

On August 19th, Discovery Center staff Jason Fredlund and Derek Hall guest-facilitated a Stowe Salon at Lunch on the topic of "the mutual interest in ending racism." The conversation focused on the ways in which people of all backgrounds can be invested in anti-racism work. To begin the conversation, Jason and Derek defined both racism and mutual interest.

Racism=Prejudice + Power (people of color have never had historical, societal power and therefore cannot be racist)
Mutual Interest=Personal + Shared investment

Both then went over guidelines for the discussion:

-Use “I” statements
-Intent vs. Impact
-Brave space
-Lean In and embrace discomfort, empathy, and connection

After the introduction, Jason and Derek led the group in a facilitated activity:
Close your eyes if you feel comfortable and think back to a time in your life where you’ve experienced pain. When was this experience? Where were you? Who were you with? How did you respond? How might you respond differently? And what kept you going, what kept you moving towards a positive resolution?

These questions provided a foundation for exploring participants' personal investment in working towards ending racism. When engaging in anti-racism work gets difficult or painful, what can keep you going? What does mutual interest look like?

Participants, namely white participants, shared the ways in which racism affects their personal lives and prevents learning, relationships, and understanding. Participants of color shared the ways ins which racism impacts their familial relaitonships. One participant qualified racism as a "distraction" and did not want her child to have to navigate the distractions to success that racism poses. Another mother expressed that racism and police brutality makes her question her children's safety, especially that of her sons.

Derek explained that when he has these conversations with mainly white audiences, participants characterize their investment in anti-racism work as intellectual. Participants for example say, "Racism impairs our ability to get to know one each other or to get to learn from each other." Yet, when he has these conversations with mainly people of color, reasons for involvement in anti-racism work is more emotional and about survival. Derek posed that we need to work to identify emotional reasons, not just intellectual, to be invested in anti-racism work. For example, Jason exclaimed that as a white person he feels as if his humanity cannot be fully realized if the humanity of others is oppressed. It is from this perspective where he then begins his work.

Both Jason and Derek left participants with a challenge to examine their inner circle of friends and family and have conversations about race, privilege, power, and racism. It is in these personal relationships where change can be made.

Were you at the discussion? Have anything to add? What does mutual interest look like? How can both people of color and white people work together to end racism? How does ending racism benefit everyone? Share your thoughts below! 

Join us tomorrow for the final Stowe Salon at Lunch for the summer! In honor of back to school season, we'll be discussing school integration and segregation. Check out these two pieces for background information! Class Notes: What's really at stake when a school closes by Jelani Cobb, and The Problem We All Live With, from This American Life.

Monday, August 24, 2015

International Day for the Remembrance of the Salve Trade and its Abolition

August 23rd marks the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition honoring the Haitian uprising that began on that day in 1791. The uprising marked the beginning of the Haitian Revolution which lasted until 1804.

The Haitian Revolution (1791-1804) 

 The International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition commemorates rebellions, uprisings, and resistance to slavery around the world.

What do you know about the slave trade and its abolition? Why is it important to have a day of remembrance for the slave trade and abolition? 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

#StoweSalonsatLunch: The Mutual Interest in Ending Racism

Join us for another Stowe Salon at Lunch on Wednesday, August 19th! This week's topic is "The Mutual Interest in Ending Racism." Check out Paul Kivel's piece The Cost of Racism to White People for a jump start to the conversation.

What is the mutual interest in ending racism? How can different people come together to work for racial justice? Join us and share your thoughts!

Can't make it? Follow along on twitter with #StoweSalonsatLunch.

Monday, August 17, 2015

#SalonsatStowe Recap: Race and Housing Discrimination

On Wednesday August 12th, participants convened for a conversation on Race and Housing Discrimination as a part of the Stowe Salons at Lunch series. The conversation focused on housing discrimination in real estate, neighborhood segregation, and as related, school segregation. Susan Campbell's piece Discrimination Lives on In Real Estate provided context and background information for the conversation.  

To begin, the below cartoon was passed to participants. One participant commented that "All we are missing up North is a Confederate flag." Other participants responded by saying that the North, though people do not often think of it, is just as segregated and racist as the South. Participants

Matt Davies, Newsweek
What do you think of the cartoon? 

The opening conversation on the presence of segregation in Hartford and in Connecticut transitioned into a conversation on housing discrimination in real estate. One participant posed the question: "Does housing discrimination still happen? Are people of color directed towards certain neighborhoods?" Participants responded with their personal experiences.

One participant recalled her experience trying to purchase a home in the West End of Hartford: "I wanted to live on the north side of Farmington Avenue [predominately white area], but they [realtors] kept pushing me to the south side of the street. People still come up to me and and are surprised when they see that I, a black woman, owns a home."

Another participant shared a story of being the only black family on a small suburban street: "When we moved to the street in the 1970s, some of our neighbors put their houses up for sale. There was an economic fear that people's houses would become devalued if the neighborhood diversified."

María Cristina Cuerda, Fair Housing Specialist with the Connecticut Fair Housing Center, who was in attendance, provided additional context. As a Fair Housing Specialist, María works directly with clients who believe they have been victim to unfair or discriminatory housing practices. María noted that housing discrimination based on race still exists and that the Connecticut Fair Housing Center is working to create a required class that all potential real estate agents must take on discrimination. 

In response to María's point, one participant questioned if a mandated class would make any difference. As a former real estate agent, this participant noted that she witnessed discrimination occur even after agents had been trained or given classes on bias. "What will it take to get real estate agents to stop acting in this way? Do we need stricter punishments?"   

The conversation then turned to education as participants repeatedly posed the notion that if we live in segregated communities then our children will go to segregated schools. One participant shared that her and her husband are grappling with where to raise their kids. She expressed, "As someone who grew up in a time where the rhetoric was very much, everyone is equal, don't pay attention to race, be color blind etc. it is good that we are now beginning to actual reckon with the problems and racism that has always existed. My husband and I are talking about housing and education now. Where do we want to raise our kids so that they grow up in a diverse environment?"

To end the conversation, participants brainstormed several actions steps that can be taken following the discussion. Participants noted that we all have the capacity to stand up and speak out when we witness any type of discrimination as well as the capacity to continually learn about others and about housing and school policy.

Were you at the Stowe Salon at Lunch? Anything you would like to share? How can we desegregate our communities? How can we end discrimination in real estate? Let us know below! 

Come to the next Stowe Salon at Lunch! We'll be discussing the "Mutual Interest in Ending Racism." Read The Cost of Racism to White People by Paul Kivel to get started! Wednesday, August 19th at 12:00 pm. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

#StoweSalonsatLunch: Race and Housing Discrimination

This Wednesday at 12:00 pm, joins us for a Stowe Salon at Lunch on the topic of race and housing discrimination.

Where we live impacts so much of our life experiences. And though efforts have been made towards integration, studies show that our schools and communities are more segregated than ever. What role does racism and discrimination play in housing?

Check out former Stowe Center trustee and current Central Connecticut State University professor Susan Campbell's recent piece in The Hartford Courant on housing discrimination in Hartford and share your thoughts below!
Discrimination lives on in real estate
Susan Campbell, August 6, 2015, The Hartford Courant

Do we live in segregated communities? What does your neighborhood look like? Come to the Stowe Salon at Lunch and discuss!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Stowe Salons At Lunch:Voting Rights at 50. More here!

Today is the 50th Anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act.

Lively discussion yesterday - check out  the Stowe Center's Twitter feed .

 Look what happened in Texas yesterday Is this a hopeful sign?

And look whats happening to felony disenfranchisment in some states.

For more background, see the NYT piece, The Dream Undone and related commentary.