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20 Sep, 2018

How to Have Difficult Conversations about Race: A Shift Lab Speaker Series

This fall, we are hosting an international speaker series and have invited three prominent speakers who will dive into the messiness of talking about race and addressing systemic racism.

Race can be a difficult topic to talk about for many. The Edmonton Shift Lab has been exploring various dialogues and perspectives about race, so we invite you to join us for some conversations about race from three notable speakers this fall. We are not trying to provide the “right” answers about race, but instead, help ask better questions.

The series is presented by Edmonton Community Foundation. Big thanks to them for their on-going support. Thanks, too, to our pals at LitFest who are helping out with selling books.

Here’s the line-up:

September 27: 

Our first speaker is Shelly Tochluk, an educator with a background in psychology who now trains teachers to work with Los Angeles’ diverse school population as a professor in the Education Department at Mount Saint Mary’s University–Los Angeles. She is the author of Witnessing Whiteness: The Need to Talk About Race and How to Do It. Shelly also works with AWARE-LA (Alliance of White Anti-Racists Everywhere-Los Angeles). With this group, she co-produces a 4-day summer institute titled, Unmasking Whiteness, that leads white people into a deeper understanding of their personal relationship to race, white privilege, and systemic racism.

To get a taste of her writing on white anti-racism, check out her post “On-ramps and Lanes on the Racial Justice Freeway.”

October 17: 

Klan-Destine Relationships author Daryl Davis has come in closer contact with members of the Ku Klux Klan than most— short of being on the wrong end of a rope. What’s more, he continues to do so, making him one of the most unique race relations experts and activists today.

Daryl is an accomplished Blues, Rock & Roll, Country, and Jazz musician, who has worked extensively with The Legendary Blues Band and Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley’s Jordanaires, Percy Sledge, Sam Moore and others. After a performance in a country music bar, a man told Daryl he’d never seen a Black man play piano like Jerry Lee Lewis. Daryl explained, both he and Lewis learned from Black Blues and Boogie Woogie pianists. The man didn’t believe in the Black origin of the music but became a regular fan of Daryl’s. Turns out, he was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. This experience led to Daryl becoming the first Black author to travel the country interviewing KKK leaders and members as detailed in Klan-Destine Relationships.

He eventually became the recipient of robes and hoods from Klan members who came to rescind their beliefs after coming to know him. Davis had inadvertently stumbled upon a successful method of forming friendships between sworn enemies. However, his methods have also made him the center of controversy for both whites and blacks, and he has been called everything from politically incorrect to an “Uncle Tom.”

Check out Daryl’s interview with CNN in Charlottesville last year (heads up: the interview is preceded by video footage of the violence that killed a counter-protester there last year).

November 29: 

Trevor Phillips is a writer and television producer. He is co-founder of Webber Phillips Ltd, a data analytics provider and consultancy. He divides his working life between the US and the UK, serving as the Chairman of the New York- based business leaders’ think-tank, the Center for Talent Innovation; and as President of the Council of the John Lewis Partnership, the UK’s largest private company. He is a senior board adviser to the leading executive recruitment company Green Park.

He is the founding chair of the UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission and the author of “Windrush: The Irresistible Rise of Multi-Racial Britain.” He had previously been the Chair of the Commission for Racial Equality and the elected Chair of the Greater London Authority.

Trevor is a Fellow of the Migration Policy Institute (Washington DC); and a Governor of the Ditchley Foundation. He is the recipient of several honorary doctorates; and was awarded the Order of the British Empire in 1998, and the Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur by the French Government in 2007.

Trevor is also an award-winning filmmaker; check out his recent film Things We Won’t Say About Race That Are True.


For tickets and more details, head on over to Eventbrite.


By |2019-09-09T19:29:56-06:00September 20th, 2018|Categories: What's Going On|Comments Off on How to Have Difficult Conversations about Race: A Shift Lab Speaker Series

About the Author:

Addressing racism and discrimination continue to be identified as a critical piece of the puzzle in how we reach the big goal of ending poverty in a generation in Edmonton. Building on the work of many local initiatives, the diverse collective making up the Edmonton Shift Lab is stewarding an exploration to develop potential service, policy, system and community action prototypes that will help reduce racism as it contributes to poverty. We want to be bold and explore how to Shift ideas. Shift attitudes. Shift systems and Shift into new ways of solution finding with community.