By Jill Johnson
Early Learning Project Coordinator & Communications Specialist
For the past several years, the Inland Northwest Early Learning Alliance (INWELA) has participated in Thrive Washington’s work on advancing racial equity. On March 11 and 12, the alliance took a monumental step as one of the organizers of racial equity training with a nationally recognized leader on this topic.
Glenn Harris, President of the Center for Social Inclusion led the training, which was attended by about 100 people the first day. Spokane’s early learning community was well represented with attendees from Educational Service District 101, Spokane Regional Health District, Child Care Aware of Eastern Washington, Spokane County United Way, Children’s Home Society, the Department of Early Learning and Spokane County Head Start/ECEAP/Early Head Start.
More than 40 people attended day two to become trainers, equipped to share the lessons learned by educating others in the community. The training, entitled “Race: The Power of an Illusion” is based on the PBS documentary of the same name. The three-part series questions race as biology and examines the contemporary science that challenges common assumptions about our similarities and differences, uncovers the roots of the race concept in North America, and reveals how our social institutions “make” race by disproportionately channeling resources, power, status and wealth to white people.
Using the film and small group discussion, attendees were able to develop a collective understanding of the difference between institutional racism and individual racism and also to define racial equity. The response by those who took the training was overwhelming positive. The workshop would not have been possible without support from Thrive and from Greater Spokane Progress, which led this effort.