DEI Educational Event: Systemic Racism event recap

Last Wednesday’s DEI Educational Event: Systemic Racism on February 10th, marked the second time Teela Foxworth joined with SMPS Oregon for a discussion about what steps we can take to learn and understand more about our history and capabilities for empathy, understanding, and progress in the workplace and beyond.

The program began with an introduction to Taking Ownership PDX by founder Randal Wyatt. Although this event was free to SMPS chapter members, any profits generated from non-member ticket sales will be donated to Taking Ownership PDX. This organization helps repair and renovate Black-owned homes to “[enable] Black homeowners to age in place, generate wealth and simultaneously deter predatory investors and realtors to deflect the gentrification process.” Randal emphasized that what makes this organization special is their ability to take action and address concerns that homeowners have now. With over 200 families lined up for assistance, Wyatt urges those who are licensed or credentialed in contracting or construction to sign up to volunteer for upcoming projects.

A few months ago, Foxworth had the first DEI discussion of the series with the SMPS Oregon board. It focused heavily on introducing the what and why of DEI, and reviewed some of the historic frameworks in Oregon and Portland that have contributed to gentrification, oppression, and systemic racism.

For this second talk, the focus was on perspective and identity. Early in the presentation, Teela had participants set into small groups to discuss three questions:

  • What are three events or people you remember from history?
  • What were we taught about them, or why were they significant?
  • What perspective or discussion was left out of the lesson?

Foxworth pushed the discussion forward by urging introspection on how each of our individual experiences and early education influence how we react to, and perceive the world around us. For example, many people make snap judgement about other people’s identity. The problem is these judgements are usually topical, one-dimensional assumptions that cannot reflect the multi-faceted beings we are. She left us to muse over the question when does identity show up, and how can we respect all parts of a person.

Finally, this event closed with an overview of how education, history, and politics can gloss over systemic racism to benefit a select few people in society. Participants were encouraged to ask questions, and share resources they found helpful in learning about systemic racism.

We’d like to thank participants for joining us, and to Teela and Randal for their time and energy in speaking at this event!

Recommended Resources by Teela Foxworth

  • “13th” (Available on youtube for free and Netflix)
  • CBS “Oregon’s Race Against the Past”
  • “Unseen Tears”
  • John Oliver “Hollywood Whitewashing”
  • “A People’s History of the United States” – Howard Zinn
  • “How to be Anti-Racist” – Ibram X Kendi
  • “The New Jim Crow” –Michelle Alexander
  • “Caste” + “Warmth of Other Suns” – Isabel Wilkerson
  • 1619
  • Scene on the Radio Season 2: Seeing White

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