World Trust

Talk About Race: A Conference Participant Reflects on the 'Third Rail'

Posted by Adwoa Gyimah-Brempong on July 8, 2014

Chicago-based journalist and writer Robert Koehler recently attended a presentation of Cracking the Codes. Hear a bit of his experience with the powerful clip above, in his own words:

Author Joy DeGruy tells her story in a remarkable documentary called Cracking the Codes: The System of Racial Inequality, produced and directed by Shakti Butler, who is the founder of World Trust, an organization committed to breaking through the shame, secrecy and dishonesty that American culture is trapped in regarding both its racial history and present-day practices. [T]he film [...] dug relentlessly at the structural and institutional racism of our society for the purpose of getting people to talk about it.

DeGruy told her story not for the purpose of vilifying the clerk at the store, but to address the complexity of everyday racial encounters, which pull in everyone. The sister-in-law, Kathleen, turned around when she saw what was happening, using her “white privilege” to intervene and ask the clerk, “Why are you doing this?” Other customers then expressed outrage and eventually the manager came over. And a fragment of American society addressed its racial assumptions more deeply than it normally does.

The film, and the unique discussion that accompanied it, were part of a three-day conference on race and restorative justice I attended last week in Chicago. The planning committee for this amazing, multiracial event, held at Roosevelt University, included the Community Justice for Youth Institute, the Illinois Balanced and Restorative Justice Project and many other participants in this city’s growing movement to change the criminal justice paradigm and replace a punishment mentality with the consciousness of healing.

You can find the full post on Bob's website here.

Cracking the Codes: The System of Racial Inequity is a World Trust film designed to deepen the national conversation on race. Over 600 institutions have adopted this resource for use in cultural diversity workshops and events. To learn more, click here.

Topics: Film: Cracking the Codes, Diversity Workshops