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Dialogue on Race takes place each week and serves as an opportunity for women and men to speak safely about racial issues while learning from each other.

LSU Hosts Dialogue on Race

The LSU Women's Center and the African-American Cultural Center, in conjunction with the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) Greater Baton Rouge, are hosting a Dialogue on Race throughout the month of February.

The Dialogue on Race is a nationally recognized program consisting of a six-week series of dialogues facilitated by trained volunteers. This inaugural series on the LSU campus began on Jan. 27 and will run through March 3. The program's participants take part in discussions each week, based on prior readings, which are facilitated by questions from the trained volunteers.

"We are pleased to offer this significant program to members of the LSU community," said Roberta Madden, YWCA director of Racial and Social Justice. "It begins with defining terms to provide a common language for this complex subject and includes sessions on white privilege, institutional racism and affirmative action. The process uses dialogue rather than debate to grapple with uncomfortable issues."

The Dialogue on Race is a unique opportunity for women and men of diverse cultures to speak frankly and safely about racial issues while learning from each other about the repercussions of prejudice and institutional racism.

The Dialogue on Race operates on the premises that:

  • Racism is a community problem, not just a problem for people of color.
  • Dialogue is a focused kind of communication that allows us to explore the role of institutional power in order to lead to intelligent action.
  • Individual power to act inside the institutions of our own community can be discovered through the dialogue process.

The YWCA Greater Baton Rouge's Dialogue on Race originated in 1968 with the Living Room Dialogues — a groundbreaking program for women of different races to meet in one another's homes for frank discussions about prejudice during that time period. 

The YWCA Greater Baton Rouge was chartered in 1967 as the local affiliate of the YWCA USA. YWCA Greater Baton Rouge programs are designed to achieve the mission of eliminating racism and empowering women. Their programs and services focus on four crucial areas: health care, education, social and racial justice, and women's empowerment.

"The Dialogue on Race program is an excellent opportunity for faculty, staff and students to engage in meaningful conversation about the successes and challenges that exist at LSU," said Chaunda Allen, director of the LSU Office of Multicultural Affairs. "We are excited that the Women's Center and African-American Cultural Center are working in conjunction with the YWCA to host this program on campus. I hope that these conversations will spark more action-oriented solutions to continue moving our campus forward around issues of diversity and inclusion."

"As a trained facilitator with the YWCA Greater Baton Rouge Dialogue on Race, I have seen very powerful attitude shifts about race that occur among participants," said Katrice Albert, LSU Vice Provost for Equity, Diversity & Community Outreach. "I am so proud that the Women's Center and the African-American Cultural Center are serving as safe spaces for these necessary and vital conversations. I am certain that the LSU community will want to continue the Dialogue on Race Series."

The LSU African-American Cultural Center implements educational, cultural and social activities that acknowledge and address the needs of African-American students at LSU. This center also provides a venue for all students to learn about African-American culture, heritage, and traditions.

The LSU Women's Center provides support, referral and information to students, faculty, and staff on issues and concerns related to women. The Women's Center also promotes the advancement of women's issues and well-being through its services, educational programs and advocacy efforts.

"The LSU Women's Center is very proud to be one of the hosts to the Dialogue on Race program. I believe that an honest dialogue about racism is a big step in the right direction to bring about change to our campus community and the city of Baton Rouge," said Catherine Hopkins, director of the LSU Women's Center.

For more information on how to register to participate in the Dialogue on Race, contact Madden at maddenr@ywca-br.org.

For information on the LSU Women's Center or the African-American Cultural Center, visit the centers at www.lsu.edu/wc and www.lsu.edu/aacc or e-mail wc@lsu.edo and aacc@lsu.edu. For more information about the YWCA Greater Baton Rouge, contact 225-383-0681 or visit www.ywca-br.org.

Melissa Foley | Writer | Office of Communications & University Relations
February 2009