xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Howard County Office of Human Rights to host workshop series about race, class, culture

The Howard County Office of Human Rights is set to begin a free five-part workshop series later this month, “Humanity Matters: Honest Dialogues About Race, Class and Culture in Howard County.”

The five sessions span a month-long period beginning Aug. 22 and finishing Sept. 22; those interested should plan to attend all five. The first and fifth sessions will be online only, while the middle three sessions will have both in-person and online options. The in-person locations have yet to be determined.

Advertisement

Yolanda Sonnier, director of the Office of Human Rights, said her office began discussing conversations and workshops that could reduce the discrimination that Asian Americans were facing at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. When protests spread across the country in late May after the death of George Floyd, a Black man, by the hands of the Minneapolis police, Sonnier said her office received calls asking to do dialogues.

“The dialogues can be transformational for some people,” Sonnier said. “They can come and they can ask questions and tell people about their experiences, but it also allows people to listen. We wanted to have an authentic conversation.”

Advertisement

The Office of Human Rights formed a community planning committee to get feedback and plan for potential educational and conversation-based forums.

Jay Hackett, an organizer for the local HoCo United group, was part of the initial planning for the workshop and called the five-part-event a logical next step in the education process.

After Hackett helped organize a Black Lives Matter rally in Cooksville in June, he said he hoped Howard County residents would take their activism a step further and participate in dialogues.

“We have to make sure people that came to the protest have to understand that I can’t walk down the street like a white person depending on where I’m at,” said Hackett, who is Black. “I feel like the message is getting across. That’s the mission now: Keep the positivity going in the area.”

The first session will provide a historical context of race and culture in Howard County and in Maryland. Sonnier said this discussion will feature the perspectives of several historians.

“In order to have that deep conversation, people need to have an understanding of history,” she said.

In the second, third and fourth sessions, the participants will be broken into groups of 10 for dialogue.

“You’re getting the same historical perspective, values, guidelines no matter what group you’re in,” Sonnier said.

During the final session, the groups will present their action items to each other for the county to undertake as part of its next steps.

“What needs to happen next? What do the community members attending feel that [the county] needs to offer? What else do we need to offer to engage people that did not agree to sign up?” Sonnier said.

“[The program] gives everyone an opportunity to be involved in how change happens.”

Advertisement

For more information about the workshop series, contact OHRoutreach@howardcountymd.gov or 410-313-6430.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement