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What I’ve taken from this is an even deeper understanding of my own unconscious biases, which are becoming more and more conscious given a choice to see things in a new light. Thank you for your leadership, David.

--Randy M., San Francisco, CA

I am part of a group organized with the intent to take on making a difference in the area of systemic racism and causing equality and justice. What I came here for was “What’s next?” What I got was the beauty of being able to just have these conversations that people don’t have a lot of the time. They don’t take the time to really tell the truth and just confront what’s there for them, and what’s next for them. For me, this was that. . . . I’m not sure what exactly I’m going to do to further the idea, but the conversation is so worth it. I’m just present to my love for humanity. Thank you for this.

--Elise S., Los Angeles, CA

David, thank you for doing this. I originally grew up in the suburbs of northeastern Cleveland in what I did not really realize at the time was a racially segregated lily-white suburb. It’s only as I look back that in retrospect that I realize what a privileged experience that was. I’ve said to my students and colleagues that we will never get past the boundaries that we envision we have as people of different racial identities unless we figure out how to talk about these things with each other. And we don’t. We tiptoe around each others’ sensitivities. And that may be well intended, but it doesn’t get us anywhere. I’ve been eager to find chances to be a part of conversations where people are willing to screw up their nerve and share their experiences, thoughts, and perspectives, and strive to trust that they will be heard and an attempt will be made to  understand and comprehend. And that’s what I’ve experienced here this afternoon and I’m very thankful for that. Thank you, David.

--Alan B., Jacksonville, FL

The thing I got out of this was the recognition that this whole idea of race was a creation in language. And there as a fundamental break integrity in the creation of the groups and subdivisions that have us not relate to each other as human beings. It’s a lie that we are different.

--Perry P., Los Angeles, CA

 

This idea Perry had about the original break in integrity is a very freeing type of conversation. I’d never considered it that way before because I’d ever considered that race was just invented just 200 years ago! That’s not how I grew up. I went to a top university. I took massive intense history classes on the whole history of the world, and nothing said any of this. We just started from the Civil War and the slave trade and then we go on to today. But there’s more pockets of time that you hit, David.

       Over the summer, I was very disturbed -- everything was disturbing in regard to race relations, the police, and the media. What’s true? I got two sides of every story where somebody was shot and killed by the police. There’s like the good side and the bad side, and I couldn’t even tell from the media what was true. And I was just getting in arguments with friends and family because nobody could agree. I didn’t matter if it was black, white, Latino . . . all of my friends had totally different views. And then I joined one of these conversations and saw things completely differently. And I had to go out and share it with people to suggest David do it again to keep deepening this conversation. Because even if you can talk to one person it’s not the same as a group conversation about race that’s safe. It’s very eye-opening

--Josh L., Las Vegas, NV

 

One of the men that shared in my group really got to my heart. I really got an appreciation of what it’s like for him being a black man in a way where . . . I just got it.

--Jayne W., Delray Beach, FL

 

I have a privilege that not everyone does in that, I was born white. So why not use it for good? Thank you so much for this. This has been an awesome opportunity.

--Brandy M., Jacksonville, FL

 

I live in Northern California and I think that I’m pretty privileged from the sense of my lack of knowledge in this area, because I live in an area where it’s not predominant. I’m so offended by some of the things that go on in this country, and helping to understand it is what this conversation has brought, to be able to talk about color and how it affects people.

--Bob M., Saratoga, CA

I am taking away the privilege that community provides. Our education is never over.

--Toni M, Saratoga, CA

 

This conversation was knowledgeable. I appreciate everyone’s thoughts. I appreciate everyone sharing their ideas, I just like the open forum. Thank you, Dr. Jamison for allowing this open conversation. I learned a lot from people sharing as far as their race, background, things that have happened to them. I thought colorism only happened with African Americans, but in the last breakout session just to listen to people to saying that happens in the Italian culture, I appreciated that.

--April S., Jacksonville, FL

 

I came to this call to discover what it takes to transform racial conversations, and equality. And one of the things I really got present to, was that this conversation is not existing in the world right now. So, first of all l, thanks for making that happen. And I invite you to not stop having it in this particular medium, with more people. Because the way people, were talking about I, it wasn’t adversarial, it was discoverable, it was informative. And it was safe. So I appreciate that. I’m left with left with looking at my views and contexts of where and when and why race showed up for me, I hadn’t looked at it from that perspective. And how it showed up in the environment I operate. I’m left with specific questions a that  gave us such that I hadn’t ever thought about such that it will alter the way in which I listen to people, and also the way in which I speak to people that could transform people’s view of race and equality, and diversity, buy just the way I listen and speak And for that, I thank you.

--Aaron Z., Hollywood, FL

 

First of all, thank you. It was so refreshing to have an opportunity to share that was open sharing and informative. You always have some concerns, because our climate makes us feel that way. The climate is charged with negative energy. And so to have the opportunity to share with openness and kindness is very refreshing and encouraging. I want to say thank you not just to you, but to everybody that took a Saturday out to share their time.

--Wanda W., Jacksonville, FL

 

Thank you, Dr. Jamison, for the opportunity. We’re all new to our school who are going to be teaching African American history with me and I will share this with all of them so we’re all going to be on the same page. I hoped to get diverse opinions. I had no idea there were going to be people form all over the country, so that was really really cool to hear the different experiences from different sections of the country through the years, whether it be a privileged situation or a racist situation, it was very interesting. Now it helps me to see how important it is for all my students to grow their self worth. I would have thought that we’d be closer to each other rather than the tension between the races.

      The idea of race shame was astounding to me. I’ve heard about the psychological study of children preferring the different-colored baby dolls, but it was brought to life for me. And the expectations for all of our students has got to be the same. I’ll be more careful to make sure I don’t have that unconscious bias that may come out.

--Rhonda S., Jacksonville, FL

 

I came here wanting insight. I live in a tiptoe world. And to think I don’t would be fooling myself. I serve a diverse population of students and I serve a diverse population of adult. And I need insight. I grew up in South Georgia. I moved to Jacksonville because I thought it was the big city, so that tells you right there all about me. I can remember a time when I taught that I had to print out a piece of paper that said children in my class were either “black” or “not.” I’ve learned a lot. I’ve taken several pages a of notes. I have a lot of reading to do. Thank you so much. I want to be a part of this. I need these conversations.

--Denise H., Jacksonville, FL

 

I’ve been working in higher education over 20 years. I really enjoy the teaching and the research that David has done and the way he shares the research.  It allows me to add to, and fine tune my knowledge toolbox. The research citations are great and learning about racial-ethnic history, gives me a chance to brush up on my  research skills and also share my lived experiences. Oftentimes, when I’m in a group, particularly when I’m one of the few African-American participants, that perspective is not always shared.  Therefore, it is good that we are learning together as people trying to learn about each other’s  lived experiences. In order to widen communication and broaden understanding,  I embrace that opportunity and  appreciate the commitment to civil, respectful and authentic discourse.

--Jametoria B., Jacksonville, FL

 

I’ve woken up to the fact that it’s not enough to be a well-intentioned liberal democrat. There’s an exploration of what I don’t know to be done, so that I can make a difference. So that’s what I came for. Thank you so much! It was a wonderful thing and I would love to do it again and bring more folks.

--Micki C., Petaluma, CA

 

I really feel that if enough conversations like this can go in this country, then that is what’s going to make it a different country. And this is the only conversation that I’m in that is like this, where there’s a sort of balanced conversation with white people and black people. And there’s two elements to it. The first element for me is the teaching, where you show us how we didn’t create this. None of us were born and said, “Let’s the world like this.” So it takes the guilt off of me, so that now I have the freedom to admit “I have these crazy thoughts that I was taught when I was eight.” The teaching of the ideas and where they came from makes me realize that it’s just a cultural conversation that I’m living in, that I didn’t do it. And so, that gives me a freedom. And that combined with the breakout groups, the sharing. I’ve been in other courses where you understand the cultural conversation to some degree, and I’ve been in other courses where there’s some attempt at personal conversation, but I have not been in something like this, where it combines them, where you understand the cultural thing that you’re in, that you didn’t create, and David, you create such a safe space. And after you tell us how we got here, then there’s this space created so we can share within that. And I feel like, if enough people do exactly this, we’re done. So David, tell me what to do.

--Joann P., Los Angeles, CA

 

In terms of what I thought I would get out of this platform, I got out of it exactly what I expected, and it was open, honest conversation about race and bias in the United States. Given the current social climate, it’s important that we do have these conversations. And my next step is to go beyond having the conversations here, but with my colleagues, and my family members. And hopefully this will go beyond just conversation, but that we will take actions that help education become more inclusive of all students.

--TiLena R., Jacksonville, CA

Initially, I thought that I would be able to get some books or pointers to add to my own research. And then the conversation started, and I was so interested in all of it. One of the things that is true about Jacksonville is that there’s a great deal of racism. And not all of it is blatant, but it exists here. The most common white person in Jacksonville sees the most common black person as inherently criminal, and anti-police, and poor, and on welfare. And it’s a problem. And it’s a heart wrenching. And so you take that, and you live through it, it and you work through, and it’s not always easy. One of things I’ve appreciated today is about hearing from everybody and their experiences.

--Robie C., Jacksonville, FL 

About David

I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from UCLA, a Master of Arts in History from Cal State University--Los Angeles, and a Doctor of Philosophy in African Diaspora History from Indiana University. I spent nine years as a public school teacher first in East New York, Brooklyn, and then in South and East Los Angeles. 

 

My dissertation topic was on slave resistance, as well as the construction of race. Although I am considered a resistance scholar, I am primarily interested in creating community dedicated to effecting global change through the promotion of justice and freedom for all living things. So I consider myself a "freedom scholar."

I am originally from Queens, New York, but I currently reside in Jacksonville, Florida, where I am the Assistant Professor of History at Edward Waters College, Florida's first HBCU.

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Photo Credits:

Profile Pic: Kate Hallock

All other photos by: Ronnda Cargile Jamison