Diversity Workshop Celebrates Civil Rights

A group discussion got `juicy' while breaking polite silence and attempting to “quit faking the funk” with notions about prejudice, racism and bigotry. Healing Racism in Anchorage, a local non-profit organization, and the campus AHAINA (African-American, Hispanic, Asian, International and Native American) club co-sponsored a Diversity Workshop featuring Eric Abercrumbie from the University of Cincinnati at the UAA Campus Center Pub Saturday.

 “In our society people don't know the definition of racism, bigotry, and hatred,” said Abercrumbie. “We`ve got to understand where people are.”         

The six-hour workshop differentiated awareness and sensitivity towards racism and defined the familiar, but misunderstood, terms such as prejudice, racism, and bigotry.

“People want to come away with something new,” said Patricia Partnow, a key player in forming the workshop.      

Abercrumbie responded with, “The way we'll do that is by breaking the polite silence.”     

The group of nearly 30 workshop members shared their perceptions about racial diversity in a highly interactive setting. They worked individually and in small groups to better define and identify commonly used terms.

 “No one is going anywhere unless they value diversity,” said Abercrumbie.           

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Everyone who attended could not help getting connected processing with one another exchanging and changing their outlook.

“Don't try to process, try to get in process…the real deal is you all getting involved,” Abercrumbie said.

The workshop began to celebrate Alaska Civil Rights Day on Jan. 15, which celebrates the birth of Martin Luther King, Jr., and his great achievements during the Civil Rights Movement. Many Alaskans assembled at the Mayoral Proclamation on Monday at the park strip by the Martin Luther King, Jr., statue downtown.

“Monday is a national holiday of love…I don't want it to be a gloom and doom situation…I want people to understand that there is hope,” Abercrumbie said.

There is still time to get involved at the Diversity in Government: The New Paradigm, at the Fire Training Center on 1140 Airport Heights Rd. on Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Those interested in attending can call 343-4878 for more information.

Later this month, an African Fashion Show will be held in the Anchorage Museum's Atrium on Jan. 27. Fashions that will be presented are from Ivory Coast, Mali, and various other African countries. For ticket sale information, call 343-6179.