Conversation on Race: A Process of Discovery

The library is having this awesome event to raise awareness about the impact of race in our everyday lives.  This is building on the YWCA's National Stand Agaist Racism with support from NCBI Rochester.  We want to start a conversation.  Help us to decipher what is going on in our world.  We've heard from you that you want answers now is your time to make a response.


Tuesday, May 1 from 6-8 pm

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Comment by Margy Meath on June 5, 2012 at 10:22pm


i agree with your comments about the difficulty getting dialogue going especially about sensitive topics! I am just getting home from teaching my MSW students and we had an extremely difficult, heartfelt and interesting discussion about race, white privilege, perspectives, oppression, etc.

By way of background our 37 students are engaged in service learning in the SW community. Last week, 30 of them participated in a River Walk tour that also included their walking on Plymouth Avenue. Apparently, as they were walking, a couple of vehicles passing by yelled out various negative comments - some focused on race (the group is mostly, but not all white).

A couple of other students attended the 19th Ward Square Fair - both students are from eastern suburbs - one was older/black, the other was younger/white. The younger student heard some comments about the fact that she was from Pittsford.

In our classroom discussion tonight we talked about the fact that MANY things divide us - race is probably the most visible/obvious but all of us have felt oppressed, left out, discriminated against, etc. I think that our collective challenge is acknowledging/accepting the reality of institutional "isms" (i.e. racism, sexism, etc) while at the same time opening ourselves up to dialogue, relationship building, etc.

Comment by hellen davis on June 5, 2012 at 1:15pm

As you are probably aware by now, getting any kind of dialog going about the racial divide is not easy. I think it really is a one on one situation. If I can change one person's negative perception, that's a good thing!

Comment by hellen davis on May 15, 2012 at 12:46pm

My husband and I bought our first home in the 19th ward over 40 years ago. My children attended schools here. It was certainly true that some in the neighborhood were not welcoming. That was probably true in most neighborhoods at that time. A lot of people fled to the suburbs. Today the neighborhood has a lot of people, black and white, trying very hard to make a difference. There are also a lot of people who just really don't give a damn and it shows. They are the ones who won't bend over to pick up the trash in their own yards, who don't respect the rights and feelings of others when they play their music at ear splitting levels, that just don't know the real meaning of being a good neighbor. I would say that some people belong in the zoo, except that would be an insult to the animals. Those are behaviors that would not be tolerated in Brighton and Pittsford regardless of race.

When I go walking in the neighborhood I see houses in such disrepair, some that are owner occupied,  and wonder how they get away with that kind of neglect! My niece has a house on Frost and had difficulty getting the C of O last year because a window in the back of a first floor closet had bars on it and the inspector wanted the sill scraped and painted.  She also had to replace a cracked tile in the laundry room. It becomes clear that the City of Rochester has a lot of explaining to do when it comes to enforcement.

It is sad that blight in a neighborhood and racial composition are often linked. It gives the impression that anything goes. Too bad that there are so many negative images to contend with.



Comment by Diane Watkins on May 14, 2012 at 11:31pm

Jennifer, I don't want you to let this very important conversation die. Red lining by race kept the 19th predominately White until about 35 years ago, then White flight took hold. The 19th divested from RCSD schools and the young people who attended them as a result. Any real estate agent worth their salt will tell you that schools are an important factor in selling homes. If we engaged schools as aggressively as neighbors in Brighton or Pittsford do, there would be no way on God's green earth that schools in the 19th would have mediocre (at best) academic records, atheletic fields, or quality of care for students. Now that we have entered a regentrification period, I expect that our "community" organizations will re-engage. 

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