Community Book Read continues to do its part in the fight against racism in Cedar Valley | Local News
WATERLOO – Those who took part in the Cedar Valley All-Community Book Read proved for the second year in a row that progress can be made in the fight against racism, but realized that there is still a long way to go.
The Cedar Valley Antiracism Coalition hosted discussions on the book throughout October and will likely “do it again” next year, Dee Vandeenter, one of the group’s leaders, said in a telephone interview. .
This year’s book was âCaste: The Origins of Our Discontents,â written by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson.
The book, a No.1 New York Times bestseller, is described online as focusing on and exploring an “invisible phenomenon” in America, a hidden caste system or a rigid hierarchy of human rankings. an “immersive and deeply researched narrative and stories about real people.”
“It is appalling to read the history of racism in America, but even more appalling to think that it is still happening today,” wrote Vandeenter, one of the leaders of the coalition, while taking notes on the âquotesâ from people during the discussion. “We can and must do better.”
There were a few of the others that she noted:
“How come this is the first time I’ve heard about Tulsa and the Black Wall Street massacre?” I never learned that in school.
People also read …
“As if the lynching wasn’t horrific enough, I couldn’t believe the photos we took, turned into postcards and sold.”
Vandeventer said a few hundred people took part in discussions that helped people realize our country’s past and present in the hope that it will help build a better future.
âIt’s been 400 years. We’ve made progress, but it’s slow and won’t happen overnight, âVandeventer said. “A lot of people still don’t feel comfortable here, and we have to keep moving forward.”
People, she said, preferred the weekly hour of group discussion, as opposed to just 30 minutes in the first year, to “dig into” issues.
âThe panelists will talk about the reality of racism in our community, how it manifests and how it is challenged,â the coalition’s website says of the panel discussions.
Another addition for readers was the three âopenâ groups for those who wish to join, but are not affiliated with an organization and need more people to chat.
As a result of the community’s work, Vandeenter felt that an example of obvious change in the region was the âresounding endorsementâ of the residents of Waterloo in the November municipal elections of candidates âbased on their actual abilities,â and not on race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality. , etc.
Another encouraging sign was the large number of people – over 700, according to the Waterloo Community School District – who showed up at West High School last week to listen to Nikole Hannah-Jones, a Waterloo-born journalist and winner of the award. Pulitzer covering racial injustice for the New York Times Magazine, talking about The 1619 project.
But there is still work to be done to speak out against racism in the Waterloo-Cedar Falls region.
“Some people will never get it, but I hope there will be equality for all someday,” Vandeventer said. “We will talk, walk and do whatever needs to be done to keep racism front and center.”
In a September guest column in The Courier, members of the local coalition noted that it was founded last year because of a “tipping point,” when George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and d countless other unarmed black Americans have been killed.
Former teacher and Pulitzer Prize-winning student meet on stage at West High School
“Pushed by the late Congressman John Lewis to ‘Never be afraid to make noise and get in trouble, necessary trouble”, and featured on the pages of the 2018 24/7 Wall Street report listing Waterloo / Cedar Falls as having the worst social and economic disparities by racial lines of any metropolitan area in the United States, we came together and formed the Cedar Valley Antiracism Coalition, âit read.
âFrom despair is born hope. Our âgood griefâ came in the form of reading the Cedar Valley book. Last fall, over 60 reading groups gathered to read âHow to Be an Anti-Racistâ by Ibram X. Kendi. Between the community and the University of Northern Iowa, individuals, groups and organizations from all disciplines have deliberately engaged in a shared experience in order to learn, grow, and create a more flourishing community.