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“The Past is the Present” focuses on impact of 1619 Project

By Robert Dickey

Springfield College has taken serious action in the fight against systemic racism on campus. On Thursday March 25, Springfield College hosted a series of workshops and virtual seminars focused on expanding the knowledge of students and faculty on the topic of racial injustice, including an event called “The Past is the Present”.

This online workshop focused on how historical legacies revealed by the 1619 project impact our professions and communities and was hosted by a trio of insightful panelists, including Keisha Green, Samantha Hamilton and Kareem White. Each panelist brought their own area of expertise to the table, and talked about how it has related to systemic racism both in the past and in the present. Green focused on education, Hamilton dialed in on healthcare and climate change, and White talked about the field of journalism.

In her presentation on racism in education, Green informed the audience on how education has been “influenced by the legacies of slavery.” As a resident of Springfield herself, Green has seen first hand how racism still surrounds education in her community, and believes action needs to be taken. 

“Schools should not feel like places where you have to take off your identity” she proclaimed. “I think the historical legacies from the 1619 project can also inform our futures.”

During the presentation by Green, the members of the audience were shown short clips, including one from author Toni Morrison, on education needs to become a place of liberation and transformation. Green also went into detail regarding the five areas of impact, which she explained were racial equity, critical teacher education, community engagement, youth leadership and fugitivity and abolition. 

After Green wrapped up the education side of the workshop, Samantha Hamilton took over explaining about healthcare and climate change, and the relationship they have to systemic racism. Hamilton explained that climate change is not a well known area when it comes to this issue, but it is a massive problem that needs to be addressed. 

Part of the solution to helping those in springfield struggling with healthcare or climate change related issues is the organization “Live Well Springfield”, which Hamilton went into depth explaining to the audience. 

“Live Well Springfield brings together over 30 organizations working together to build and sustain a culture of health in Springfield that includes the broadest definition of health, including health eating, active living, the built environment, economic opportunity, housing and education”, she explained. 

The meeting with Springfield College students and faculty was not the first time that Hamilton has brought this issue to an event. Recently, she hosted a climate change and racial justice workshop to bring the connection between climate change and racial justice further to light. 

Named after a basketball legend, Karem Abdul-Jaber White closed out the workshop by helping students and faculty understand the relationship between journalism and systemic racism.

White used the recent example of current Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash getting the job that he currently has. Nash had no head coaching experience, and was up against prominent and experienced black coaches for the job opening. Nash has done a fine job as the Nets head coach this season, but as White explained, this is just another example of a problem called “skipping the line.”

White explained how this is an underrated issue in terms of systemic racism, saying “It’s one of the secret areas of systemic racism that you don’t see and that you may not recognize until you look a little bit below the surface.”

Skipping the line, as White told the audience, is when a white person gets pushed ahead of people with color, not having to go up the same ladder of difficulty that their competition did to get to the exact same point. White explained that this is a common theme in the world of journalism and especially in the world of sports journalism. 

For more information regarding this workshop or any of the other events put on by Springfield College, go to the official Springfield College website.

Photo: Springfield College

Additional Day to Confront Racism Coverage:

Springfield’s connection to John Brown, Abolitionist and Accomplice

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