Community Conversations: Healing (July 10)

  On Tuesday, July 10th from 6:30 – 8:30, folks from IBARJ and CUAP are teaming up with ACCESS Initiative and the NAACP to host a community dinner conversation around the topic of “Healing”. As space in the Robeson room at the Champaign Public Library is limited, they are asking folks to RSVP.

Healing. Interesting topic, eh? When I first read the flyer, I thought “healing” would be a hard sell so I asked a couple of the ladies who are spearheading this effort some further questions. Leigh Courtney responded with the following (in part):

[…] two main issues: first, the recent series of accidental shooting tragedies that have occurred, and second, the long-term rifts that have grown between neighbors and neighborhoods throughout the recent history of the C-U community.

When I read this, I think about the strained relationships between the African American community and the police department. I think about how many of our homogeneous cultural groups are fractured; you see a ton of people complaining, but not many people working for change and volunteering their time (and those that are, are very passionate and dedicated). I think about the ugly effects of racism, and in general the lack of cross-cultural understanding. I think about the Consent Decree that forms a part of the Unit 4 history. Yes indeed, healing would be good. Necessary, in fact.

What I love about our public school system is that it is one of the largest melting pots (if not the largest) of all our cultures, ethnicity and backgrounds. Our kids, irregardless of their skin color, their accent, their access to technology and what toys they play with, they are all getting together in the same classrooms. This wide variety means some kids thrive while others struggle. For me, the travesty and the pain is in how we attempt to force this living, dynamic miasma into our own mold, our broken mold. If only we could learn from our kids. If only we valued things like conflict resolution, cultural differences and basic, raw respect.