1 year after murder of George Floyd, anti-racism workshops are still in high demand

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The murder of George Floyd brought about a national reckoning on race. Anti-racism books climbed The New York Times' best sellers list. Companies and organizations set diversity and inclusion goals. And anti-racism workshops have also been in high demand.

"We simply couldn't accommodate the requests that were coming our way," said Nina Sánchez, director of Enrich Chicago.

Joy Bailey, a national organizer for Crossroads Antiracism Organizing & Training, said her organization tries to get an understanding why someone is seeking their services.

"We do a lot more of asking folks is this just a trend or are you committed to the long haul," she said.

Anti-racism workshop facilitators are challenging people who hit the streets last summer to redefine what it means to be an ally.

"Allies are often folks who have more power than the folks they're trying to ally with," said Derrick Dawson, the program coordinator for the Chicago Regional Organizing for Antiracism. "They're often standing on the side, cheering the activists on, while not using their power to address the systemic issues that are causing the disparities in the first place."

Before the pandemic the workshops were in person. Dawson said he always tells workshop participants they must figure out what their power is and how to use it.

"We do training as a way to create shared language and shared understanding by what we mean by systemic racism. The purpose for that is to empower people," he said.

Hillary Pearson, the senior manager of operations and accessibility services for the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, has participated in Enrich Chicago's anti-racism workshops. She said she tries to apply her training daily.

"What is my position and what has been my experience in the world, how is my lived experience different than other people's lived experience and how can we work to make more opportunities for folks who may be have had barriers to access," she said.

Sánchez said Enrich Chicago hopes participants keep doing the work after attending their workshops.

"You don't get an anti-racist badge upon completion of the course," she said.

For more information on the anti-racism workshops, click here Enrich Chicago or Crossroads.
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