I attended the Third Annual Overcoming Racism Conference on November 8-19, 2011. This conference took place at Metropolitan State University. This conference is organized by a group called Facilitating Racial Equity Collaborative (FREC). FREC is made of diverse organizations with different capacities and individuals active in anti racism work.
The keynote speaker was Dr. Joe R. Feagin. Feagin is a sociologist, scholar and author, currently serving as the Ella C. McFadden Professor of Liberal Arts at Texas A & M University. He produces and maintains RacismReview online. He recently authored the book The White Racial Frame: Centuries of Racial Framing and Counter Framing. His keynote was titled The White Racial Frame and Overcoming Racism.
In the keynote, Feagin spoke of some research he and some of his colleagues conducted through interviews and diaries. The research questions were:
- Do whites of various ages still do much everyday racism?
- Has the level of white-racist framing commentary, action declined as much as opinion surveys and "post-racial' pundits suggests?
- Or has significant white-racist framed commentary and action become concentrated in the "social backstage," with less performed in the "social frontstage" because of social pressures to fake being "colorblind."
Feagin shared several excerpts from diaries that showed blatant racism being played out by individual when surrounded by peer groups. The lessons learned is that we are far from a post racial society.
Feagin provided some options for reframing; call out racist acts, teach ourselves and others how to respond to racist actions, create national multiracial organizations that call out racism and teach how to challenge racist actions.
This was a very refreshing conference. I felt that I walked away with some new ideas on how to approach the diversity work that I do.