Local News

YWCA Study Circle Explores Racism, Ethnic Relations

Posted February 6, 2002

— Understanding racism and breaking down stereotypes can be a difficult mission. A group of women in Wake County are trying to do just that.

"I always realized that white people had privilege over black people, but I never knew that it was still as obvious and prevalent as it is still," said Cynthia Slicker, a YWCA Study Circle participant.

Slicker said that is one of the reasons she is participating in the five-week study circle on race and ethnic relations.

"This project allows people to discuss race relations, to ask questions and give their thoughts and ideas about race," said Ophelia Anderson of Study Circles.

The YWCA of Wake County is spearheading the project that brings together people of different races, ages and backgrounds.

During week two, participants discussed why they think racism still exists.

"You still have young children that are racists and they really don't know why because they're being taught this stuff at home," said a participant.

"I think part of the reason why there's so much separation between the races now is because of the historical stuff. It was not that long ago that segregation was happening," another participant said.

Opinions vary widely on whether anything has really changed since the 1960s.

Penny thinks her grown children see the world a lot differently than she did growing up during segregation.

"They've been to school in mixed races all of their lives. They're used to it. It's no big deal to them," she said.

Tami thinks some white people are just masking racist views.

"Are they speaking out to say 'I accept biracial marriages, I think it's OK.' But do they really think it's OK or are they saying it's OK because I don't want to be seen as a racist," she said.

The group may never agree on why racism still exists. The participants just hope that when the program ends, they will have a better understanding and appreciation of each other.

The study circles are not just for working adults. A collegiate circle is under way at Peace College and high school students are participating at Wakefield High School.


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