Dialogue to Eliminate Racism

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In 1776, Thomas Jefferson recited powerful words, but 229 years later our country is still plagued with racism. A group of local high school students is working to achieve Jefferson's promise.

"Racism is everywhere, it's not just black or white, but who you are, what you look like, what you wear, your beliefs, different variety; trying to figure out what they are and what I can do to change it."

Quinn Forrest is one of 14 local high school students taking part in a dialogue to eliminate racism sponsored by the YWCA and the Jane Adams Center for Civic Engagement.

"Let's dialogue with young people. We always do it with adults, but some of us are so stuck in our ways, we talk a good game, but it's hard to change it, but with young people there's a hope," says YWCA strategic director Dorla Bonner.

Organizer Dorla Bonner says these students are discussing the many facets of racism. She hopes the students will develop activities that will help open dialogues at their respective schools.

"My father used to say Jim Crow is dead, but Jim Crow, Jr. is still alive with a Ph.D. because it can't be as open with new laws like affirmative action, but it's the very subtle things that are hard to fight," says Bonner.

"It's kind of undercover. Some people hide it, others are blunt. Sometimes people do stuff behind your back, but sometimes it's in front of you and it's not just students, it's teachers, too," says Auburn junior A.J. Bonner.

Dorla Bonner says eradicating racism completely from our culture may never be possible, but putting a stop to its proliferation through education is the first step.

Students from Christian Life, Roosevelt Alternative High School and Auburn High were taking part in the dialogue. There will be a celebration luncheon in April where each school will share the results of their anti-racism activity.