Date of Press Release: November 25, 2014
The final Evening at Egan of the 2014 lecture season marked a turning point in the Juneau community’s on-going dialogue on racism. Presenting faculty Du Aaní Lance Twitchell, Sol Neely, Amanda Sesko and staff Kolene James facilitated a community dialogue and reflection on prejudice, discrimination and stereotyping at the Egan Library November 21. Attendees expressed gratitude for the experience. In a Facebook post, teacher Luann McVey thanked UAS for, “helping to move Juneau in such a positive direction.”
The evening began with an introduction to the parameters for listening and discussion as set by the Alaska Native Dialogues on Racial Equity (ANDORE) program from the First Alaskans Institute. Then the more than one hundred staff, students, faculty and community members in attendance sat at round tables and listened to Alaska Native students describe their personal experiences with racism. Students described incidents of feeling stereotyped, chastised or treated differently because of their race. Faculty presenters directed each table to engage in dialogue on their reactions to the students’ revelations.
The final directive was to answer two questions: where do we want to see the issue of racism in Juneau in 10 years and how do we get there? A spokesperson from each table group presented its conclusions to the room. The main takeaways were that people would like racism to be a non-issue, but to get there we can’t pretend that racism does not exist.
The goal is for more such forums to take place on regular basis to make healing racism and historical violence a priority for Juneau. McVey looks forward to the continuing dialogue.
Lance (X̱’unei) Twitchell, Assistant Professor of Alaska Native Languages
University of Alaska Southeast