Community continues discussion on race disparities

Community continues discussion on race disparities
February 12
00:00 2015


The Institute for Dismantling Racism (IDR) wants to have candid and authentic conversations about race and racial inequalities. That conversation began Feb. 3 in Green Street United Methodist Church’s sanctuary, where the agency held its first community discussion.

According to Rev. Willard Bass, IDR executive director, the recent events in Ferguson, Mo. and Staten Island, N.Y. has brought about the need to have public and open conversations about social justice and what people can do to decrease these instances.

He credited The Chronicle’s Publisher Ernie Pitt and the newspaper’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast for getting him to think about where the city, state and nation stands on racism.

“He challenged the community to begin to have dialogue about this. I have taken him up on that challenge and felt like it would be good for us to take this opportunity,” he told the audience.

Bass said that it’s not just about having a conversation with leaders in the community b

ut that it is just as important to try to come up with

an idea to change the disparities that may be discussed.

“If we are going to talk about racism, then we need to have a vision, that gives us something to hope for and something to live for,” Bass said.

Panelist for the event included Cindy Gordineer, president and CEO of United Way of Forsyth County; Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines; Forsyth County Commissioner Walter Marshall; Dr. Barbee Oakes, assistant provost for Diversity and Inclusion at Wake Forest University; Forsyth County Manager Dudley Watts and Dean Corey D.B. Walker, from Winston-Salem State University’s College of Arts, Sciences, Business and Education.

The panelist were asked what their vision of the city looks like and what obstacles were in the way.

Walker said that the future of the city should be built on hospitality and how those who are different are welcomed.

“Entering into a conversation is risk-filled for the possibility of being transformed. It is these such moments that communities have the opportunity to transform one person at a time,” Walker said. “The city of the future will be open to all of the diversity of humanity. I would think that the future of the city would be grounded in a deep ethic of hospitality. That requires the city to transform from the ethical disposition.”

Oakes said that she is used to working with those tough issues as the assistant provost for Diversity and Inclusion at WFU. She said that she would like to be able to  make sure that the school children have access to the technology in the area.

“We have such a two-tier system in education. We are going to have to get in there and fix a lot of what’s broken,” she said. “It’s still probably one of the biggest barriers to providing equal opportunities in this city. Our kids are educated at different standards so they are not graduating from high school to the degree that they should.”

Marshall said that he would eliminate the use of ZIP codes.

“It determines what type of job you get, what type of services you get or whether or not a grocery store or restaurant comes to your community, and the value of your property,” he said. “It would need to be the first thing that would have to happen to make sure the issue of where you live is irrelevant.”

He also said that race is a big issue in the country as well, which in turn impacts economics and politics. Due to white people typically having more money, they have more of a say so in the political and economic arena.

“White preference and white privilege. A lot of people still believe in the value of their skin and will use it to their advantage no matter what,” he said. “It shouldn’t be that way.”

The group would like to make the discussions a continuous thing for the city. For more information on IDR, soon to be known as the Freedom Tree IDR, visit


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Chanel Davis

Chanel Davis

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