Roughly 150 students, community leaders, and members of the public gathered at Cleary University to engage with each other on the topic of race.

Encouraged by the success and positive response from last year's Martin Luther King Jr. Day event, organizers from Cleary University, yesterday, hosted "A Conversation on Race" in honor of Black History Month. The event began with a series of film clips offering different perspectives on talking about race, covering topics like how to be better at talking about race, how to approach someone who made a comment that sounded racist, and the impact and effects of "white guilt" in America.

After a lunch period that allowed attendees to discuss what they saw, A panel was held featuring award-winning journalist Rochelle Riley and former State Representative, Lt. Col. Andrew "Rocky" Raczkowski. The duo agreed on a few points, and disagreed on many more. Hotly debated topics included the effects of 1994’s Proposal A in regards to school funding in urban areas, the roles of family and schools in educating children, how government reacts to cities with contaminated water, and how politics permeate the discussion.

The panelists then took questions from the audience. When asked about the difference between racism and prejudice, Riley said this was most important thing they could answer. She answered, “Slavery was not about race. Slavery was about economic power and making sure you power to build America. The continued racial discrimination is the same thing. Prejudice can be against anything. You don’t like somebody’s religion, you don’t don’t like somebody’s color, you don’t like somebody’s clothes. Racism is about power and economics. And if you find a way to discriminate against people by race so that you can have more money, that’s the difference. And people cling to different groups, because that’s the only way they have any chance of not being obliterated by that racial discrimination.”

Riley further broke it down by saying one can hurt your feelings, the other can hurt your life. She and Raczkowski agreed that there was no easy answer for ending racism, but that we need to find the threads that connect us beyond race. (MK)