Courageous Conversations About Race: Georgetown Social Justice Group Celebrates Black History Month
By: Willow Riscar
“Courage is the most important of all virtues.”
That was the opening message, a quote from Maya Angelou, at Courageous Conversations on Thursday night. I attended this meeting hoping to gain insight on what the community of Georgetown was focusing on in regards to Black History Month. After the opening prayer, they gathered us into groups and gave the topic of the week: How race and healthcare correlate. Before we began to discuss, however, some Georgetown representatives gave small speeches concerning their own personal experiences. Hugh Brown, C.E.O at Georgetown Hospital, discussed his first understanding of race.
“It was in 1967, and I was sitting on my grandmother’s porch. She started talking about how good her family was to their slaves. That was my first recollection as race,” Brown said.
After a few more speeches, we got ready for round one of discussion. Each member of the group took their turn speaking by holding the stone which sat in the middle of the table indicating that tthey had the floor. Open-mindness, acceptance, curiosity, diversity, sincerity, and brevity served as guidelines for the “Courageous Conversation”. They then asked us to focus on discussing health disparities within racial and ethnic groups. My group talked about health as a social good with unequal distribution. It was decided that healthcare was as foundational as education to society. Round two focused on fraud within America’s healthcare system and the essentiality of human needs.
Certain racial and ethnic groups are denied healthcare when needed, which led my group to ask the question, Why do we commoditize healthcare in the U.S.? Round three interested me the most: On a small community scale, in what can us as individuals do to address income inequality? There are takers and givers – what deems some as “less of a person” than others? There is almost a stripping away of dignity within this systematic setup. Georgetown, a historic city, can easily move away from its historical ties with racism; an example being the Old South Ball. We can reach a sense of community wellness through small steps. What do we value in the way that we take care of one another?
“We must constantly build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear.” A quote by Martin Luther King, Jr. concluded “Courageous Conversations,” along with a final prayer. Afterwards, I got the chance to interview some of Georgetown’s prominent figures about this quickly growing program.
“As a librarian, the Georgetown Library should be a space that fosters dialogue and community,” Assistant Library Director Sally Miculek said.
We discussed how a bigger audience could definitely affect how things went, and would most likely inspire change within the entire community. So it was encouraged that everyone who can make it to the next meeting should. Courageous Conversations are part of the events happening in and around Georgetown to mark Black History Month. Their next meeting will be on Friday, February 19th to discuss public safety.
“Race is definitely a difficult topic to discuss,” County Rep for the Georgetown Sun said. “This many people coming out, and such a diverse group, is certainly progress.”
As a final word, the definition of courage: “The quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.”