Follow our “#CG2018 Stories” blog series for updates, information and stories about Common Ground 2018 and related events. This guest blog from Charesha Barrett, founder of CHARPED Education Consulting, LLC, reflects on a recent conversation event hosted by CHARPED that was inspired by Charesha’s participation in Common Ground 2017.
By Charesha Barrett
CHARP EDucation Consulting, LLC recently hosted its first Bagels and Conversations at the Luna Cafe and Bakery in Cleveland Heights, bringing together people from across Greater Cleveland. I was inspired to come up with the Bagels and Conversations event after participating in a Common Ground event last year, and I wanted to make my own contribution.
Race, equity and inclusion are some of the issues plaguing our city. As an educator, I have experience in teaching both urban and suburban school districts and I have witnessed the disparities from school to school and district to district. These issues, along with the post-election dissensions, were my motivations for this event.
During Bagels and Conversations, I wanted to promote civic engagement through critical dialogue and engaging activities. The participants were prompted to share stories about the first time they experienced racism and discrimination. Since there were various generations in the room, the experiences and perspectives were different.
A Cleveland Heights resident stated that he noticed racism while watching the Hough Riots on television. Two of the participants (who were both African-American women) grew up in Shaker Heights and Cleveland Heights and didn’t begin to experience racism until they left their communities. A Cleveland resident, who grew up in a small town near Savannah, Georgia, shared a story about when she and her sisters were harassed while walking down a dirt road in the 1950s.
Many people believe that our city is divided by race, social class and even geography – which can all contribute to our perceptions of others. If we sincerely want to revitalize this city, then we all must start building bridges and creating environments in which people are able to speak their truths. And we must all be involved in the process.
Charesha is hosting a Common Ground 2018 conversation at the Cleveland History Center – learn more and register here. If you or someone you know is interested in hosting a 2018 Common Ground conversation, find host resources and registration here.