Each Wednesday, Roots & Raices coalition strengthens bonds between African-American and Latinx communities
“The more divided we are, the harder we fall.”
So says Janeen Bryant, organizer for the Roots & Raices weekly discussion series which runs through April 24, 2019. Bryant, founder of Facilitate Movement, and Stefania Arteaga, an activist with Comunidad Colectiva Charlotte, felt it was important to have intentional and transparent conversations between African-American and Latinx communities. The six-session series completely centers the stories of Black and Brown people.
The meetings are designed to build conversation around personal identity and how that intersects with notions of community. The first dealt with identity and geography, using maps of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County’s Quality of Life Explorer tool, to look at the social, housing, economic, environmental and safety conditions in the Charlotte region. The second examined cultural competency and implicit bias and how it plays out in cross-cultural interactions in Charlotte. The third session took a look at stereotypes; and the fourth was a deep dive into the history of colorism.
This session got personal, as attendees described how they experienced the phenomenon as well as ways they’d perpetuated it in their lives. Several people had a-ha moments: One woman, who described herself as a white Latina, spoke emotionally about her family referring to a dark-skinned cousin as “the Mexican immigrant.” Her family was not of Mexican origin. This at-times tearful session was followed last week by a storytelling discussion, which encouraged group members to get to know and trust each other and lay the foundation for real allyship.
This Wednesday, the topic is Cities and Systems, heavily focused on examining who and why people move to charlotte. This micro-slice of immigration looks at who has access to resources and how that plays out in community building. The sixth and final session, on April 24, is all about advocacy. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own projects to the table to create a mini calendar they can use to support each other’s projects.
“It’s an opportunity to have meaningful conversations on the issues that unite us,” Bryant said.
The City of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County library and Johnson C. Smith University are some of the main partners in Roots & Raices.
When: Wednesday April 10, 6 p.m. at JCSU Science Auditorium
An advocate and catalyst for building community capacity since 2000, Janeen Bryant is an intersectional educator, facilitator, trainer, and agitator. The former Vice President of Education at Levine Museum of the New South and Regional Director (South) of LEE, Bryant is known widely for developing community-centered programs both regionally and nationally.