Dialogue on race more needed than ever

Just Governance for Human Security 2017

24/08/2017
Just Governance for Human Security 2017

 

For the second year in a row, 14 people from Tulsa, Oklahoma (USA) came to the Caux Forum to hold a dialogue on healing the wounds of the past and working for better race relations in their community, as part of Just Governance for Human Security 2017.

Tulsa carries a long history of racial tensions and violence. Back in 1921, the city witnessed one of the most atrocious episodes of racial violence in the history of the United States. The Tulsa Race Riots led to the death of more than 300 people in two days, mostly African Americans. More than nine decades later, in 2016, blacks and whites from Tulsa got together in Caux to initiate a constructive dialogue. 

‘Last year none of us really knew each other, and once here, this unbelievable bond was created,’ said Michelle Place, Director of the Tulsa Historical Society and Museum. ‘The magic of Caux really took place for us. When we went home, four of us named ourselves the Caux Queens. We met a lot of times and really came to love one another and look for ways to collaborate.’

Soon after, the Caux Queens and other Tulsans who had been at Caux organized a public forum on race relations at the Tulsa Historical Society and Museum. ‘We decided that we have to talk,’ explained Place. ‘Caux is built on dialogue. We have to tell our story.’

‘When you deal with invisible history – the one that people pretend that never existed, as it was the case in Tulsa for decades – it impacts all of us,’ said Reverend Sylvester Turner, member of the Richmond Slave Trail Commission. ‘It sustains the trauma that has occurred because of that history. Until you begin to identify and then address the issue, things do not get better.

The most powerful thing that had come out of dialogue in Turner’s city, Richmond, Virginia, was that it became ‘okay to talk about the racial divide in our community’, he said. ‘So that which was invisible once, was now a common conversation that we can have, a base to grow in to address the healing that is necessary.’

Kimberly Ellis, a scholar who has researched Tulsa’s race relations, emphasized the importance of placing Tulsa’s case in the larger context of the white supremacy ideology still present in the United States. ‘There are still a lot of people who are infected by this disease’, she said. ‘They believe they are inherently, genetically and culturally superior and that black people are inherently, genetically and culturally inferior. This ideology is reflected in the US legal, social, religious and political system from the colonial period on through today.’

One of the initiators of the Tulsa dialogue in Caux was John Franklin, from the National Museum of African American History and Culture at the Smithsonian. He explained how the language and tone of the debate about race relations in the US has shifted since last year, through the campaign and election of President Donald Trump. ‘Exclusion and racism has become acceptable now,’ he regretted. ‘We need, more than ever, to promote dialogue.’

Recent incidents in the United States, such as the clash between white supremacists and anti-far-right protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, which ended up in the death of a young woman and dozens injured, confirm the relevance of dialogue to tackling growing extremism, violence and intolerance.

After their second experience of Caux, the Tulsa delegation expressed their commitment to continuing dialogue at the local level, as a necessary healing step for their community.

By Ronak Hasani

 

Featured Story
On

related stories

ICBE 2021 square white background

Sustainable businesses needs purpose beyond profit

Corporations and industries need a purpose beyond profit, says Sunil Mathur, the Managing Director and Chief Executive of Siemens in India and South Asia. ‘Companies’ purposes are critical,’ he explai...

Stephanie Buri and Nick Foster Opening Ceremony Caux Forum 2021

Opening Ceremony of the Caux Forum Online 2021: Swiss perspectives on peace

The Caux Forum Online 2021 opened on 5 July with a panel on ‘Swiss Perspectives on Peace – past, present and future’ to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Caux Conference and Seminar Centre as the ...

Dhanasree Jayaram CDES 2020

A closer look at links between environment and security

Food security is a key to understanding the complex connection between climate and security, Dhanasree Jayaram, Assistant Professor in the Department of Geopolitics and International Relations Manipal...

Shrouk Gamal

'A better version of myself'

'The conference showed me how much I really love to socialize with people. The members of our dialogue group asked me questions I never been asked before. This made me think about lots of things, in n...

ZimbaWomen credit: ZimbaWomen

Empowering women to enter the market

The Co-founder of Zimba Women, Peace Kuteesa, is passionate about providing women with the tools and resources to participate in their economies and develop their communities. She spoke at last year's...

Hani Abou Fadel

'Humans are made of stories'

'This extraordinary conference has changed me to be more ambitious, intellectually honest and more consistent', said Hani Abou Fadel from Lebanon after his participation at last year's Creative Leader...

Harmen van Dijk

How to pursue personal development: 'Just start somewhere!'

Why would a diplomat throw in his career and give up a prestigious job to do something completely different? Find out what made Harmen van Dijk leave the Dutch diplomatic service to pursue a new dream...

CDES 2020 IofC Bards meditation bowl square

The art of making a difference to the climate crisis

‘Artists are uniquely positioned to face what is happening to the climate, to reimagine the world and create a new narrative,’ says Sveinung Nygaard (Sven), a Norwegian composer and musician. He was i...

Mohammed Abu-Nimer

Mohammed Abu-Nimer: Dialogue – Weaving peace into the fabric of society

Mohammed Abu-Nimer is Professor at the American University’s School of International Service in International Peace and Conflict Resolution in Washington DC and a Senior Advisor to the International D...

Sabica Pardesi

Learning to be a Peacemaker 2020

"I am really thankful to the person who introduced me to the Initiatives for Change programme "Learning to be a Peacemaker". It was life-changing in so many ways. It opened my eyes to things we know i...

Irina Fedorenko CDES 2020 screenshot

Caux Dialogue on Environment and Security 2020

The Caux Dialogue on Environment and Security aimed high in its first online edition, with more than 15 sessions and a cumulative total of 450 participants. Experts discussed the connection between se...

CL 2020 piano at the opening

Creative Leadership – Together for Change

The Creative Leadership conference took participants on a six-day journey of personal inquiry to discover what creative leadership is and what kind of leaders they are. More than 120 passionate change...

SCreenshot keywords T4C 2020

Tools for Changemakers 2020 – Shaping the future together through dialogue

Can you truly listen? What if we all had the power to make our communities more cohesive and inclusive by starting to deeply listen to each other? The Tools for Changemakers conference was a three-day...

ELB 2020 livestream panel 2 with camera

Ethical Leadership in Business – Leadership for a resilient economy

The Ethical Leadership in Business conference, on 25 and 26 June 2020, kicked off the first Caux Forum Online. It offered a diversified experience with panels livestreamed from the Caux Palace, networ...

Summer Academy 2020 screenshot participants cropped credit: Alan Channer

Summer Academy 2020: expansive possibilities for the future

The effusive feedback from participants in the five-day 2020 Summer Academy on Land, Climate and Security vindicated the difficult decision to take the course online. Four months ago, this had seemed ...