Racial Equity

Seven Takeaways from the State of Race Symposium

April 12, 2017  • Arica Van Boxtel

The need for meaningful dialogue around racial inequality is critical for the health of our nation —  especially in online spaces. In efforts to leverage digital media for increased civic engagement and foster enlightened discourse, the 2017 State of Race Symposium  recruited social media ambassadors to attend and expand the dialogue in online communities. The social media ambassadors highlighted the key themes of the day using the hashtag #StateofRace on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and more.

Watch the above video for full coverage of the 2017 State of Race Symposium.

Here’s what the social media ambassadors had to say:

cathyisglobal“I really enjoyed being a part of the Aspen Institute’s State of Race Symposium. It’s unique setup of having both a formal panel and a town hall for open dialogue stood out to me in such a positive way. My role as a social media ambassador allowed me to be a part of the conversation and drive it for those who were unable to be there in person, and was something I loved to be a part of. I hope more institutions will take part in important discussions such as race, human rights, and intersectionality and hold similar forums. I also hope to see more events with a diverse range of voices, not just to check off a box, but to actually be committed to creating a space for multi-faceted voices and people with a wide range of backgrounds and experiences.” –Catherine Howell

iZMCL6sG“Fifty years after a very successful movement to outlaw discrimination, racial inequality is widening because of white people’s decisions about who we want as friends and neighbors, who we hire and at what pay, where we send our kids to school, and how we invest. Racism is not something “those bad racists over there” do, racism is both systemic and a set of behaviors that we must learn to change, beginning by listening to each other. The Aspen Institute Symposium on the State of Race in America is a vital dialogue that must be succeeded by action. Karen Fleshman

Tambra Headshot “For me the #StateofRace Symposium was encouraging and reflective in my role as health chair for the NAACP DC Branch. So, my takeaway is to keep the conversation and advocacy at the local level going and address the intersectionality of race and gender in our food system. Also as a nutritionist, I was surprised and thrilled to hear nutrition as a key solution at the symposium. On the first panel, Dr. Omar Wasow of Princeton University shared that we must invest in nutrition for our children to have a healthy start in life. With the National Head Start Association Annual Conference kicking off this week, I thought about how timely and relevant it was to highlight the intersection of food and race. That’s why I have coined the phrase #nutritionjustice. Though the focus of the symposium was focused on wealth gap, a health gap is partially a result of lack of wealth and impact of racism.”  –Tambra Raye Stevenson

bKhltX4__400x400“What an eye-opening experience! The Symposium was a great step towards building empathy and strengthening understanding of all Americans. Hearing people talk openly about inequality and the racial wealth gap gave me hope for the future.” –Latosha Adams

twang“At a time when communities of color are under even more attack, and we are living in a heightened environment and lived reality of hate, fear, and anxiety, it was encouraging to attend State of Race and engage in thoughtful, nuanced conversations on race and inequity in our country. While it is important to practice empathy and continue to try to understand one another’s perspectives, it is vital to stand up for the most vulnerable and marginalized. We must amplify and center women of color, LGBTQ+ folks, people with disabilities, and all those who exist at the intersections of marginalized identities. State of Race reminded me that we must force these conversations, and that discomfort and disagreement are inevitable when engaging — but that this is what we must do in order to move forward.” –Tiffany Wang

profile-1“Race will continue to be a contentious topic. At the very least it is worthy of acknowledgment and not something that should be ignored or shrugged off as yesterday’s news. Some key points that stood out to me were the intersection of race and wealth; race encompasses all races, not just Blacks; and to learn more about race we need to possess a genuine curiosity about someone else’s life. Despite fear, we need to keep the dialogue open even if we all agree to disagree. I was honored to be included in the day among some amazing leaders.” –Jennifer Ghymn

15085534_10102389684724657_8148638501650527173_n“The symposium showed me that not only are there a lot of valleys and rivers surrounding the issues facing the state of Race, but there are a lot of people building bridges. I was honored to be able to share that with the world via social media.” –Metta Smith

The Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program, in association with the Comcast Corporation, hosted the 2017 State of Race Symposium, which discussed the racial wealth gap and featured a town hall discussion focused on strategies and tools to combat racism.