“The ultimate goal of peace education is the formation of responsible, committed, and caring citizens who have integrated the values into everyday life and acquired the skills to advocate for them.” (Dr. Betty Reardon, scholar, writer, activist and founder the Peace Education Center and Peace Education at Teacher’s College, International Institute for Peace Education).
Believing in this mission, the Seacoast Peace Academy, wants to serve up a plate of “‘living room'” conversations about systemic racism and its local manifestation to Portsmouth’s neighborhoods and beyond” (Seacoast Sunday, September 3, 2017, A ‘deeper conversation’ on race, p. A3). Another way of putting it, this is a communal meal where people share conversations on systemic racism. Once our “inner conversations” can be moved into more “outer conversations” with the surrounding culture, we become more empowered.
The Seacoast Peace Academy began when three social studies & English teachers (Melinda Salazar, Alex Herlihy and Kay Morgan) met and started their own conversation. All of them had left the educational field, but they wanted to implement the ideas they’d started in the community. What could they do? They collaborated with some other nonprofits, all having the same common goal of energizing real-time and meaningful dialogues around Social Justice Issues.
Salazar said, “We wanted to serve as a catalyst to bring communities of learning together to have deeper conversations about violence and conditions for peace. That link between peace building and race has always been a pretty big gap, both in communities of color, academically and in areas (predominantly white)” (Ibid.) She went onto to say that in our time of extreme stress, political chaos, and social regression, this is often very difficult to accomplish, because all of the stimuli tends to make it hard for people to get to the real conversations, such as race, racism or any other “ism.”
All three staff members mentioned above, from the Seacoast Peace Academy “want to use the Seacoast Peace Academy as a vehicle to bring workshops for teachers regarding race and diversity issues, as well as a peacebuilding curriculum” (Ibid.).
After the dialogue, participants will break into small groups to dialogue about how in their organizations, schools and other settings, truth-telling can be employed as a method for promoting social justice.
Summing up: Alex Herlihy said, “Facing history, facing ourselves, it’s liberating and it’s healing.” Isn’t this the end result we’d all like to see? Though sometimes traumatic, it’s possible to heal, both as perpetrators and those oppressed, from system racism and its effects.
The upcoming event will be held at the Portsmouth Public Library, Saturday, September 16, 2017, from 1:00-4:00 PM, and is a collaboration with the Truth Telling Project, that will be launching an Online Learning Commons, with this dialogue. For more information on these two organizations, as well as the event, check out: www.seacoastpeaceacademy.org and www.thetruthtellingproject.org.
Copyright: Christopher Bear-Beam September 4, 2017