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(Please note that there is a small fee for Thursday and Friday evening events. All other conference events are free)
The 2016 conference is a celebration to mark the Center's first five years of operation. It has been an incredible journey for us and we are glad to welcome you to join us at this year's annual conference on a topic that is very close to our vision and goals - the celebration of humanity.
Breaking through Shades of Color
Globally, racial tensions are on the rise. When racial identities come under threat, they invariably become the primary identities for individuals and communities. With race being a key aspect of almost every conflict, interveners and resolvers are challenged to find ways to resolve these intractable – difficult to resolve – conflicts.
The Center’s definition of race extends to all identity groups based on skin color, ethnicity, religion, language, sexual orientation, gender, identity/expression, disability status, age, physical attributes, class, cultural background, nationality and more. Some of us experience racial discrimination, including race related violence, in our everyday lives but everyone is a witness to the very visible and deep racial divides in the world around us. Many of us are baffled and struggle to connect the past to the present because in a way, racial tensions as we see them today have skipped a couple of generations. However, while we do see growing incidences of racial discrimination, we also acknowledge the loud voices of discontent: new voices because they are being expressed by those who were formerly voiceless. These individuals are rallying against racially motivated violence and have recognized the power in joining forces to create greater impact. The Center seeks to build on this new movement and truly believes that we are in a new era where more of us are ready to fight the forces - individuals, institutions and structures - that marginalize us. It is definitely social change in the making but like all moments of historical social change, these times are torn with strife. The big question is: how do we manage this change?
After a successful conference last year examining aspects of power and privilege in race conflicts, this year, we want to explore various approaches to resolving race conflicts. Any effort towards building racial equity must involve self-reflection, personal capacity building to stand up against racism, and strategy development to initiate and support all efforts to end racial discrimination. As such, our goal is to learn from one another on how we might symbolically break through the many colors of race to create a more humane and equitable society.
Transforming Race Relations and Conflict
Our understanding of race continues to be that it is a socially constructed concept, institutionalized in societal structures and culture, resulting in structural and cultural violence. Transformation of race conflicts means a transformation in the relationships between various identity groups and a structural re-haul. And a true transformation of race relations can happen only when these relationships come to be based on trust and respect. A transformative approach, then, comes from the strategic, innovative and creative methods undertaken by all those who are part of those structures and especially those of us who are favored by the structures. Further, transformation of race relations and structures ensures that we have created conditions by which racial divisions and conflict will not re-emerge.
Human beings, we believe, have an immense capacity for co-existence and humanity we want to believe is still alive. Let us push humanity to the limits to rise against this socially constructed problem - racial inequity.
For this year's conference, we therefore invite proposals that highlight innovative and creative approaches to resolving race conflicts. We do continue to stress on the importance of tying theory to practice so all presentations must be empirically tested or researched.
Sesa Wo Suban
"Change or transform your character "
This Adinkara art from Ghana is a symbol of life transformation. It combines two separate Adinkara symbols, the "Morning Star" which can mean a new start to the day, placed inside the wheel, representing rotation or independent movement.
The wheel is one of the greatest human achievements. We often take it for granted but it is the wheel that revolutionized human life and is the foundation for most scientific innovations. So we take the wheel in this Adinkara symbol to represent that creativity and innovation which transforms conflict and human relationships. The morning star represents something new - all that is transformed. We think it represents transformed race relationships and conflicts and it emerges from the creative and innovative approaches we undertake.