As colleagues at George Fox University, Jenny Elsey and Bryce Coefield decided that the community needed more specific and actionable conversations around racism and how best to combat it. In June, they created a consultant business called Brave Space to do just that and keep the conversation going in the community.
Upon creating the business following the advent of protests surrounding the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others, Elsey and Coefield set up community workshops through the Chehalem Cultural Center to address antiracism as a broad subject. At that time, they did a three-part series on the issue, and in July representatives from Providence encouraged them to apply for a grant to continue the program this fall.
Elsey and Coefield applied for and received the grant from Providence and will be putting together another three-part series through CCC, which community members may register for, called Community Equity and Action. The virtual workshops will be at 6 p.m. Sept. 15, Oct. 13 and Nov. 10.
"The workshops in June were looking at the issue more broadly," Coefield said. "Like, what is antiracism? How do our racial identities play into this work? What does implicit bias look like? This time, we wanted to focus on what it looks like to do that work specifically here in Newberg, given our demographics. A lot of consciousness around antiracism is usually seen through this Black-white binary, so we wanted to integrate the voices of our Latinx community in Newberg given that it's our most prominent population of color."
Coefield recently made history as the first Black man ever appointed to the Newberg City Council. Elsey, an Asian American woman, brings her own experience to the discussions as well. The primary speakers at the events, though, will be other community members sharing actionable steps people can take on antiracism in the community.
The majority of the grant money will be given to these speakers for their time and willingness to educate on this issue.
"They will come and speak about what antiracism will look like in their particular industry," Coefield said. "It will be part TED Talk in the sense that people will be educated on these issues, and the second half of the discussion will be focused on action steps. We are bringing speakers in to talk about what that looks like in education, health care and broader civil engagement."
The events are free to attend and have a maximum capacity of 300 participants. For more information or to sign up, visit www.chehalemculturalcenter.org or go to the organization's Facebook page.
Elsey and Coefield said they hope the events will keep the conversation about antiracism going while also providing the community with perspectives they might not otherwise hear.
"Jenny and I obviously bring our particular knowledge and expertise when talking about antiracism," Coefield said. "The biggest difference between this trio of workshops and the ones we've done before is that we will be highlighting and amplifying the voices of leaders of color in the Newberg community. I think that's important because almost every conversation around antiracism focuses on anti-Blackness, and there are so many other perspectives that need to be heard in that space as well."
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