The first time I met Andre Fields it was during an event called "Institute for Healing Racism." The workshop lasted two days, and it was eye opening. Going through it prompted him to write the following:
Guest post by Andre Fields:
Summary of my Experience
The Institute for Healing Racism was effective at bringing clarity, conformation and challenge to some of my ideas and beliefs concerning racism. Clarity, in that I saw clearly and definitively how as a country, America’s social, economic, educational, and ideological components have disturbed and impaired the psychological development of many of its minority population. Confirmation, in that I was empowered to continue my personal commitment and life task of fighting racism and assisting organizations in their efforts towards becoming culturally competent in the delivering of resources and services. Challenge, in that I was made aware that some individuals of the majority population may not be fully aware of the insidiousness nature, presence and affects of racism on the everyday lives of minorities.
Everyday minorities are presented with psychologically invasive stimuli via racially charged messages, images, policies etc. These messages circulate and erode at the psychological structuring of many minorities. Negative messages about the self, fearful messages about America, and hopeless messages about the future effectively strip away minority dignity, self-efficacy and self-respect. Eventually, these people are at an increased risk of experiencing negative life outcomes. I believe however that all is not lost. There is Hope.
Message to Minority Students: Keep the Momentum
It is vitally important that minority students disengage their thinking, feeling and behaving from any stereotypes, fears and/or expectations that hinder their pursuit towards becoming an intelligent and relevant member of society. You have just as much a right to be in higher education as any other person. Likewise, you have just as much, if not more, duty and responsibility to succeed as anyone else walking the path of higher education. Having an African American, president I believe has boosted the overall dignity, self-efficacy and self-respect of the entire African American race. Let us keep this momentum, set a steady pace and march into success.
Message to Academia: Lead the Nation
I perceive academia to be a leading force behind social progress and moral evolution. I believe that if colleges and universities continue to educated society and use its position and prestige as a tool for dismantling institutional barriers the affects and consequences of racism can be alleviated. I believe that if colleges and universities can become empirically proven experts for constructing safe and nurturing environments for minority minds to develop in, other American systems will follow academia’s lead.
Message to America: With Diversity comes Intellectual, Technological and Moral Advantage.
America needs to understand that it’s pursuit towards regaining it position as the leader of the global community, is directly linked to America’s ability and willingness to see the worth, beauty and necessity of all the racial and ethnic groups within it’s borders. America needs to become immediately aware of the fact that its ability to bounce back from its recent crisis is dependent upon the input of all the members of its diverse society. When America learns to genuinely and sincerely value, respect, and celebrate and include the unique potentials, viewpoints and practices of other cultures, America will be on an accelerated path towards national progress and international leadership. Such international leadership can only be vested when America’s diverse community can effectively, as one nation, focus its collective power, passion, and voice towards improving and accelerating the progress of this nation. Then, and only then, will America be qualified to declare itself the leader of our global community.