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J. Paul Blake
“Dealing with oppression and racism is about reclaiming our humanity as individuals and establishing social justice,” Glenn Harris told a standing room audience during a “Dismantling Institutionalized Racism” workshop.
About 150 state and local public administrators from Washington and Oregon, academicians, students and citizens attended the event held at The Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA. The event was sponsored by the Evergreen Chapter of ASPA and The Evergreen State College (TESC).
The program featured a presentation of the City of Seattle’s Race and Social Justice Initiative by Harris, manager of Seattle’s Race and Social Justice Initiative, Office of Civil Rights, and challenged the audience to find opportunities in their organizations to be “organizational terrorists on the issue of racism.” Harris added “don’t be afraid to be the one who speaks out about change. It’s worth the sacrifice.”
Harris’ presentation was followed by a six-member panel discussion including Sharon Ortiz, executive director, Washington State Human Rights Commission. Breakout sessions where participants discussed experiences with institutionalized racism and approaches to address the problem were followed by a debriefing where attendees committed to developing an ongoing community toward holding future meetings.
The workshop was supported by a grant from ASPA National to the Evergreen Chapter in recognition of the chapter’s innovative programs and membership development. Evergreen Chapter Treasurer Dave Broom said “we are extremely thankful to the ASPA National Office for helping underwrite the cost of this worthwhile session. Cheryll Simrell King, director, master of public administration program and member of the faculty at TESC; Dorian Waller, chapter board member and several members of MPA staff at TESC played key roles in organizing the program.
Interest has been expressed in repeating the program, possibly in collaboration with the Washington State Commission on African American Affairs and other state agencies.
ASPA member J. Paul Blake is president of the Evergreen Chapter of ASPA. Email: [email protected]