Racism and Democracy

On Thursday, October 24th, The Graduate Center housed a Racism and Democracy Event that discuss all that is preventing us from being a real democracy. Moderator, Johnetta Betsch Cole (President, National Council of Negro Women), lead an informative conversation with panelists, Jelani Cobb (Staff Wright, The New Yorker), Jessie Daniels (Graduate Center & Hunter College Professor of Psychology and Sociology), Mary Hooks (Southerners on New Ground), and Bitta Mostofi (Mayors Office of Immigration Affairs). This conversation reminded me that although the fight for a genuinely democratic process is far from a reality, there are people doing the work to get us closer to it.

The event was started with a powerful moment of silence for Congressman Elijah Cummings. At first, they discussed when democracy might become a reality because the founding fathers marketed the United States as the home of democracy but built this country on the expansion of the enslavement of millions of people. The issue of race is built into everything that we know, so real democracy cannot find a home here without truth and reconciliation for the years of racism built into the system. This event prepared me to understand this and get prepared to fight it through my work in the education system.

I left this event feeling inspired, inspired by the passion in their voices of each panelist, and inspired by being in a space with people doing the work in various different disciplines. I know there are millions of people in this country and abroad fighting for social justice. Through that fight, I am aware of my place in the world. There are generations before me that are committed to creating a society that protects its citizens from racism, bigotry, and prejudice. Our systems are built on the backs of marginalized communities, and realizing this is not enough, we need to set up systems that are anti-racist, anti-bigotry, and anti-prejudice.

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