Community Steps To Foster Diversity in #CHSArts
At sunset on a chilly autumn Saturday afternoon in late November, nearly 20 men and women from across Charleston came together on the back patio of The Royal American in the Upper Peninsula. We gathered to have a frank conversation and discuss a recent article in Charleston City Paper written by KJ Kearney, founder of H1GHER Learning (an organization that unites kids with cool sneakers). The goal was to envision how to foster greater inclusivity in Charleston’s creative scene.
The article was an invitation and a challenge – to acknowledge the primarily white audiences at creative events downtown, and to imagine what “hard work” is necessary to stimulate more culturally and racially diverse crowds across Charleston.
We discussed what was missing or could be the problem (mistrust, access to information, off putting communication, affordability). We acknowledged that for many, downtown is not a welcoming place for socializing. And, we envisioned what could be done about it – what exactly is the “hard work” KJ referenced in his article that might actually end systemic cultural segregation in Charleston so we can walk the unity talk?
For some of us, we do it, everyday, in our actions. We reach out and immerse ourselves (by choice or by circumstance) in communities that are unfamiliar and don’t look like us. Experiencing the richness of interconnectedness among this community is a powerful reward, or if not by choice, it can feel like the heavy sense of otherness. The group echoed that in order to effect real change, each of us have to live this commitment to change, to joyfully show up and connect meaningfully to one another, person by person.
We recognized there are systemic discriminatory issues, like poverty, race inequity, housing, transportation, and access to power. The cycle of racism is vicious and continues unless we, as a community, decide to wake up to simple yet proactive actions to end the nonsensical existence of racism for once and all.
The group offered stories, ideas, and solutions. Below are just a few. Do you have more? Continue the conversation on/offline. Talk about these steps with colleagues, friends, family and in your neighborhood. Host a small gathering of your own. Reach out to someone in the community outside your social circle and start a dialogue. The issue deserves a conversation and a commitment – a pledge, if you will, to walk the unity talk. Here are some tangible steps.
One of Charleston’s most effective organizations, the Charleston Area Justice Ministry (CAJM), which is made up of over 20 congregations that take action on a pressing topic, voted last week to make RACIAL DISCRIMINATION their issue for 2016. Many people from our group felt called to join this productive organization to help move this subject forward.
For us, creatively connecting the Upper Peninsula means that Enough Pie’s events and actions have the input and support of our neighborhood, which includes nearly 3,000 residents, local businesses, artists, and incoming developments. Race equity is an important piece of the pie for inclusive and thriving communities.
INTERESTED IN RACE EQUITY IN CHARLESTON? CONSIDER:
- Charleston Area Justice Ministry (CAJM)
- Showing Up for Racial Justice (Charleston chapter just launched / connect on Facebook)
- Charleston Engaged (Facebook group)
- Charleston Contemplative Alliance (through The Sophia Institute)
- Black Lives Matter
- Unity Article: http://www.charlestoncitypaper.com/charleston/unity-is-an-easy-word-to-say-but-fostering-true-diversity-is-difficult/Content?oid=5560626
- Diversity Leaders Initiative https://riley.furman.edu/diversity