July 3, 2020
By: Patrick Terrien
It’s been just over a month since the horrific death of George Floyd and I already sense a collective eagerness to “move on” and to “get back to normal.” It can be comforting to return to routines, systems, and a world that we know. It can be comforting, that is, if you are white, like I am. But “back to normal” will not bring us closer to racial equity. The “fierce urgency of now” reminds us that “this is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism” as Dr. King implored more than 50 years ago.
But I will be the first to admit, change is hard- it takes intentionality, focus, and discipline. I also know that change takes all of us- as individuals and as a collective. And true change has to start from inside. For the Columbus Council on World Affairs, that change begins with me. And I’m inviting you, the community, to hold me accountable.
I’m focused on three dimensions: learning, reflection, and action. One of the helpful tools I’m using is the YWCA’s 21 Day Racial Equity Challenge which provides some structure to my learning and forces me to consider uncomfortable ideas and concepts like white privilege, unconscious bias, white fragility, complicity, and systemic racism. Each of these terms makes me squirm, a sign to my brain and to my heart that these are exactly the places for me to explore. Learning can help change the mind; courageous reflection can help change the heart. And with the heart and mind together, we can then take action to make positive change.
As I work through this journey within myself, I lean on my amazing team and Board, many of whom are already further along this path. We are learning together, reflecting on where we are, and will proactively make authentic and meaningful changes. I can imagine these changes will affect both how we operate internally and also how we deliver our programming throughout the community. We invite your thoughts and ideas and resources. You can send me a direct note at [email protected].
Educating on world affairs is so much about recognizing and valuing the vast human diversity on this earth as well as understanding the wide societal disparities that exist across the globe. How can we at the Columbus Council on World Affairs succeed in teaching our community about injustices in our world without shining a light on injustices in our own neighborhoods? There is much antiracism work to be done in our local community. And we intend to amplify the courageous work of organizations that have long been committed to ending structural racism as well as drive our own efforts to help make Columbus, and our world, a more equitable place.
And expect to hear from me again; this work does not end here.
President & CEO