Thursday, March 29, 2007
Sessions deal with race issues, conflict
By SUE WATSON
The Marshall County leadership class of 2007 met at Trevecca Manor last week to take on some new topics.
Lemon Phelps kicked off the class with a session on diversity with the topic “What Color is Your Jelly Bean?”
The take-home lesson was, “They don’t taste like they look,” he said.
Mid-morning Susan Glisson, director of the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, facilitated an exercise and discussion on race relations.
Racial issues are sometimes difficult for people to talk about, she said, but the good news is that there are lots of people who want to work together to make Mississippi better.
Three issues individuals must become aware of in dealing with issues of race are trust, suspicion and communication, she said.
She said the press often has preconceived expectations when covering civil rights issues and tend to shape the discourse according to its own notions of the racial climate of the state as it stands now.
Glisson used the method of storytelling in a circle to get the conversations moving and asked each person to share when they first realized race would be an issue they would have to grapple with in their life.
The stories shared varied according to each person’s experience, with the younger class members saying they had not experienced race as an issue. Those who were older had more formed memories and told how they had dealt with conflict around race in the home, school or work.
Most stories were heavily weighed toward school experiences and desegregation and/or its failure in Mississippi.
The last session dealt with conflict management on the corporate or career or civic level.
“Conflict is a part of life,” Curcio said.
She said conflict is a part of decision making.
The strategies to reduce conflict and reach decision or consensus were discussed.
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