October Coffee Talk photo by Eric Blauer

Thanks for a great Coffee Talk on Addressing Racism and Prejudices

October Coffee Talk photo by Eric Blauer
October Coffee Talk photo by Eric Blauer

Thanks for a great Coffee Talk today on “Addressing Racism and Prejudices.”

About 50 people attended the discussion, making it our largest one yet.

We are grateful to guest panelist Rachel Dolezal, a professor in the Africana Education Program at Eastern Washington University, who was able to step in for Makayla Desjarlais.

Other panelists included:

Due to time restrictions not all questions were able to be answered, but we hope the conversation can continue in the comment section below.

Today’s Coffee Talk raised $45 for SpokaneFAVS, and donations can still be made online via the following link.



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Eric Blauer

“I wouldn’t invite my son to come visit Spokane.” -Regina Malveaux

“There is no such thing as reverse-rasicsm.” -Rachel Dolezal

Those two quotes stuck in my craw quite a bit, as did a number of other comments said from the panelists, lot’s to brew and chew on for sure. I particularly found the iceberg analogy helpful but not when it was applied to my comment in reference to how Rachel’s kid’s experience of “white on black” abuse is qualitatively different than my kid’s experience of “black on white” abuse.

I do wish there could of been alternative voices and perspectives represented today and more allowance for the group to engage the issues brought up, since it became primarily a sit and listen time. That is a bummer, because the issues are so big and the answers require a community engaging one another to come to helpful paths forward. I appreciate the intelligent, educated and personal examples of the panelists but there are other perspectives and assessments of the issues of race, privilege and the way forward. To me, there was a lot of diagnoses of the problem but we didn’t get to much of the prescription and I am unsure the diagnosis was accurate, I wanted a second opinion.

But that doesn’t mean I didn’t learn anything, I did and made some relational connections that will hopefully get traction and turn into some fruitful collaborations to work this out in our own neighborhoods. I am always glad to see such large crowds come out to engage such difficult and complex issues.


I agree there wasn’t as much Q&A engagement as usual. Hopefully that will happen here, and I appreciate you starting the conversation Eric!

Jan Shannon

I think there’s another analogy that is helpful to this convo, though I did not think of it till later today.
In the exchange student world, of which I was a part for 11 years, there is a story that is told to help the students through their cultural exchange. It’s about two sets of colored-glasses and I don’t know who wrote it, so if someone here does, please attribute it correctly for me.
Anyway, the story goes that there are two planets, one where all the inhabitants are born with yellow glasses on, and the other where all the inhabitants are born with blue glasses on. Now, no one can ever remove their glasses so no one knows what it is like to see without them. One day, a yellow-glass person goes to visit the blue-glass world, and the behavior and customs of the Blues is strange and inexplicable to the Yellow. No amount of conversation can ever help the Yellow to understand the ways of the Blues even though the Yellow is desperate and willing to learn. The Blues try and try but cannot make the Yellow see things their way. One day, a Blue gets a great idea and gets a pair of blue glasses for the Yellow and she/he puts them on. Suddenly all is green! Not blue or yellow, but green. The Yellow tries to explain this to the Blues but they cannot understand why the Yellow, with “their” blue glasses on still is unable to see things their way.
That’s it…it’s a simple story, but if you try to apply it to today’s topic, you can maybe understand what the Black community is trying to tell us: we Whites don’t get it. We can’t ever truly get it. It’s not that some of us aren’t trying, some of us are, but we still can’t ever really get it. The best we can do is put their Black glasses on over our White privileged glasses and hope to see some new aspect of the issue that we could not comprehend before. But we will never see things from a truly Black perspective…but that doesn’t give us an excuse to stop trying! We should, ought, and must continue to try, in whatever small way we can, to SET ASIDE our ideas and TRY to see things from their perspective through their voices that we have asked to hear. To listen to them and then discount their words is the worst kind of stupidity, not ignorance because we are no longer without information…it’s stupidity.
We need to stop talking about our life, our perspective, and our wants/needs and just listen for a while…maybe their words will make some impact if we hear them long enough.

Riff Mattre

I still remember the first time I encountered a black child in grade school when I was five. My entire neighborhood was white. I clearly remember her smiling face upon meeting her. THAT’s difference. I remember my feelings of uncertainty and curiosity, and having many strange questions. I also remember wondering what it must be like being the only ONE. This situation is one I believe most of us avoid whenever possible. Can we ever KNOW the suffering of another? Nope. But we CAN relate if we so choose. Imaging ourselves in others’ shoes IS the only way I’ve found to grow my own compassion, understanding, and skill relating to others. I have great respect for Eric in continuing to hang with the FAVS. I agree wholeheartedly balanced community engagement is the only true prescription for growth.

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