This Milwaukee-Area Continuing Ed Class Will Help You Unlearn Racism

Challenge your biases in this unique local class.

Tag lined “the most segregated city in America,” Milwaukee has a lot to learn when it comes to unlearning racism. The YWCA is helping raise people’s consciousness by educating them on the institutional racism and racial biases that underlie the city’s segregation. Unlearning Racism, a six-part workshop, utilizes discussions facilitated by instructors to help its participants identify and ultimately shed their own personal racial biases. This can be a difficult undertaking for participants, according to Jamaal Smith, a member of the racial justice team at the YWCA.

“It’s a very challenging class, and I would honestly say that it’s particularly difficult for white people who are taking it,” says Smith. “A lot of it is information that we, people of color, have been living, having to be concerned about race every day. Many whites have not. So, when you are finally confronted with this reality, it’s difficult.”

[alert type=white ]Class: Unlearning Racism – YWCA
Date/time: Wednesday afternoons
Cost: Varies

Smith has attended the class as a participant and has witnessed people enter the class with frustration, anger and no desire to be there. The same people, Smith says, left the class saying, “This class should be mandated.” What can get rid of the frustration and anger in being confronted with the realities of racism? Time and knowledge, says Smith.

The workshop series is spread over several months, allowing time for participants to mull over ideas and engage in conversations with those closest to them about what they are learning. A primary goal of the class is to help participants learn how to transfer the ideas they are learning into action and start tearing down the walls that divide this city.

“A major thing people can do is have those dialogues with their own communities,” says Smith. “There are a lot of conversations … in predominantly white communities that a person of color can’t facilitate. Someone within those neighborhoods can have conversations about how we need to make sure everything lines up with what this country is supposed to be: everyone having the same opportunities and freedoms.”

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‘Get Smart!’ appears in the January 2018 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

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