ALTON — An author and “racial justice educator” is set to kick off a YWCA of Alton speaker series Saturday, Sept. 10, at Alton Middle School.
Debby Irving, author of “Waking Up White; and Finding Myself in the Story of Race” will speak from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the school’s auditorium, 2200 College Ave. Admission is free and includes a discussion, a question-and-answer session and a book signing.
The YWCA’s Social Justice Committee extended the invitation to speak. Irving will discuss her book detailing her personal journey in exploring systematic racism. In “Waking up White,” she writes “education is key” to overcoming racism and educating white people, “especially about how racism works and how it is possible to be complicit in it. You have to get to the policymakers and the teachers to implement an anti-racist curriculum because it is the older age group that is holding the system in place by perpetuating myths.”
Irving devotes herself to exploring the impact skin color can have on perception, problem-solving, and engaging in racial justice work.
Irving has spoken to hundreds of organizations, corporations, colleges and municipalities to help others bridge the divide within their companies and communities, and is considered a foremost expert in promoting healing between the races.
Kimberly Norwood, editor of “Ferguson’s Fault Lines” and a law professor at Washington University School of Law, will facilitate the event. She has published several pieces on the meaning of being black in America and on the academic toll black students suffer when confronting the stigma of acting white.
The YWCA of Alton has been a community leader in the fight to eliminate racism and understands many in the community may be unsure of a way forward, and are challenged to teach their children about racism and prepare them to thrive in a diverse world.
It is the Social Justice Committee’s hope that attention to this topic will help the community navigate the issue of racism and prejudice. The committee is planning to present other speakers in the near future as well.
Since 1918, the YWCA of Alton has created opportunities for the community to bring about social change.