The City Club’s inaugural Book Chat was a success, with 30 members, students, and community members attending.
Taking advantage of a pause in regular programming on September 16, City Club members and friends gathered at The Davis Restaurant’s side room to begin discussing the themes of our new common reading, “Between the World and Me,” by Ta-Nehisi Coates, also the common reading at UO this fall. Thirty people attended; in addition to 15 CCE members, the group included nine students from City Club sponsor Network Charter School and six other adults. In groups of four, participants responded to quotes about key themes—“race” as a concept born of racism, the nature of “the Dream” to which Americans aspire, and the work of schools (to reveal or conceal truth). Our goal was not to exhaust the possibilities for reflection, but just to start thinking about ideas inspired by this reading.
Among the participant comments that suggest opportunities for further conversation:
- We need opportunities to share stories from all background.
- As we become a society with many, many multiracial people, will racism fade away or just take a different form?
- It is important to recognize the extent of harm done by 250 years of slavery and to discuss how “reparation” might occur.
- Instead of separating races…there should be connecting with each other.
- Was the 30 years we spent insisting on integrating UO dorms and Greek organizations a waste of time?
- We didn’t know we [ie, people who believe themselves to be white] were born on third base.
Eight of the participants asked to be connected with UO professors who were using this book in their courses, in hopes of joining class discussions with students. Seven asked to be kept on an email list informing them of future events, and several others offered to help plan such events.
We will be forming an ad hoc planning group to identify new ways to connect with each other and with students over the lessons of this book and perhaps others like it in the coming year. If you’d like to participate in this group, let us know.