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SU’s Duah-Agyeman to discuss ‘Facing Racism’ dialogues on WCNY-TV
SU’s Duah-Agyeman to discuss ‘Facing Racism’ dialogues on WCNY-TVJune 14, 2005Matthew R. Snydermrsnyder@syr.edu
Beginning Thursday, June 16, at 9 p.m., WCNY-TV will air a seven-part series titled “Facing Racism.” In the weekly show, a group of 10 Syracuse-area residents from diverse backgrounds will engage in intergroup dialogue on the issue of racism in Central New York.
The conversations are an evolution of the model established in Central New York by the InterReligious Council’s (IRC) Community-Wide Dialogue to End Racism, in which small groups of people talk about their individual experiences with race and difference, build trust by identifying common groun, then carry out frank discussions of issues that affect the community. More than 4,000 people in Central New York have participated in Community-Wide Dialogue since it began in 1997.
James K. Duah-Agyeman, director of Syracuse University’s Office of Multicultural Affairs, will serve as a commentator during the WCNY series. In a unique approach to intergroup dialogue, the small-group conversation will be interwoven with commentary by in-studio experts including Duah-Agyeman; Beth Broadway, director of Community-Wide Dialogue; and WCNY’s George Kilpatrick, the series’ producer. Commentators will explain the proceedings to viewers, helping them better understand the nuances and outcomes of the small-group conversation. In the series’ final show, leaders from business, government and non-governmental organizations will discuss the issues raised in the dialogue and explore ideas for the future.
“We all have biases-it is natural. With these biases we let opinions and assumptions become our reality and we tend to generalize a single instance or a single person from a group as a representative of the entire group,” says Duah-Agyeman. “A better way to avoid these problems is to get more information about people, and you do that by talking to the person. Participants in ‘Facing Racism’ dialogues get to know each other and begin to deal with their own biases through the conversations. It is a powerful forum.”
Intergroup dialogue is becoming an increasingly important tool at SU as the University seeks to expand deep and meaningful discussion of controversial, challenging or divisive issues. According to Gretchen A. Lopez, SU’s faculty associate for diversity, SU will offer two new courses on intergroup dialogue in the 2005-06 academic year, giving students increased opportunity to learn about, participate in and critically reflect on dialogue circles. SU also hosts Conversations about Race and Ethnicity, a five-week dialogue circle, in its residence halls; and is exploring several other means of furthering the use of intergroup dialogue in collaboration with the IRC and other organizations.
“The IRC’s Community-Wide Dialogues in Syracuse have provided an outstanding model for Syracuse University to look at in piloting its intergroup dialogue program this year in campus residence halls,” says Barry L. Wells, senior vice president and dean of student affairs. “From the perspective of important community resources available to all of us, the IRC has taken a leadership role in facilitating meaningful conversations about racism that otherwise might be difficult or even worse, may never take place. That these conversations will be aired and moderated for viewers to digest and think about is tremendous.”
For more information on “Facing Racism,” contact WCNY at (315) 453-2424; to learn more about intergroup dialogue at SU, visit http://cstl.syr.edu/intergroupdialogue/. Information about Community-Wide Dialogue is online at http://www.irccny.org/.