This year’s Conversation on Race will have community members talking and learning about the unconscious, small ways racism creeps into our daily exchanges and responses.   The topic is an extension of a series of discussions from last year as well as the 2014 Conversations on Race that focused on implicit bias.
This year’s discussion will be led by Professor Michael Jeffries, author of Paint the White House Black: Barack Obama and the Meaning of Race in America. Professor Jeffries teaches American Studies at Wellesley College and is a graduate of Columbia High School. His book demonstrates how race relies on other social forces, like gender and class, for its meaning and impact. He also has articles published in The Atlantic and The Guardian. To read more about Jeffries and his work, click here.
We will learn about the concept of microaggressions–a term used to describe the unconscious and unintentional expressions of bias toward people who differ in race and culture and also gender, sexual orientation, people with disabilities. The term can also be used to understand these biases in intra-ethnic, intra-racial confrontations as well. Here are just a few examples: “You are a credit to your race;” “You are so articulate;” A store owner following a customer of color around the store; Person of color mistaken for a service worker; Asian student assumed to be best at math; “You act so white.”
Our goal is to examine these biases from multiple perspectives, to understand them better, and to consider solutions for overcoming individual biases.

To learn more, here are some links to further reading:
15th Annual Conversations on Race forum
Wednesday, May 13th, 7:30 pm,
Congregation Beth El, 222 Irvington Avenue, South Orange, NJ