Ambassadors Meeting Report Date/Time: November 7th, 2007 @ 5:30 p.m. Location: Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Staff Present: Ali Ingersoll # People in Attendance: 22 Invited Guests Speakers: Eddie Harris, Program Officer for Office of Community Advocacy/Relations (MiamiDade Gov) Attendance List: (* = Ambassador) Felipe Matos* Bryan Quadros* Rutman Desauguste* Sherry Green Maria Sevilla* Christina Guillot Grace Castro * Alvino Wilburn* Binsen Gonzalez* Catherine Lassard
Samia Taoloust* Mathew Tisdol Sharon Green Veronica Dunlap* Ophelia Somers* Devon Dassaw* Ingrid Guerra* Constanza Lombardi* Ana Duque*
Topic #1: Racial Discrimination/ Racial Equality Suggestions/Comments: The purpose of the Office for Community relations is to make MiamiDade County a more unified community free from sectarianism and prejudice. Eddie had an interactive dialogue for about 60 minutes with Ambassadors. The main talking points for the night included: •
Prejudice & Racism – Where did it come from? – Ignorance – learning experience for Eddie
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We all have prejudices even if we don’t know it – When we understand what these prejudices are we can deal with them. Most people are too afraid to admit when feel a certain way about a person, race of people, etc The questions of racism and race relations touch us everyday, in personal ways. Race affects where we live, where we walk, where we shop, the jobs we hold, and how we are educated. In work places, schools, and houses of worship, racial and ehylic divisions persist. Misperceptions, stereotypes, fear, and distrust exist in very ethnic group towards members of other ethnic groups. You are not born a racist – It is a trait that is taught. Because racism is taught it can be undone and reversed. We need to get all the different communities in MiamiDade County to really see each other and understand the differences within each community. (E.X. We need the African American community to understand the difference groups within the Hispanic community and understand that not all Hispanics are the same) The root of Racism & Discrimination exists because people don’t know each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t properly communicate. Additionally in South Florida, the Ambassadors made the point that there are many aspects of culture that may affect communication. So, in South Florida not only is their a lack of communication among people in general, but there is a barrier between Mainstream America
The individual is valued independence The group’s interests Are considered and decision making are important more important than he effort or recognition of the individual Each person is expected to have an Deference is to be given to persons in opinion and express it freely power or authority Direct Communication is expected; Other Cultures consider the directness saying what’s on your mind is and open criticism offensive and often important use intermediaries. Materialism is paramount and power, Greater emphasis is placed on spiritual money, and possessions are highly issues. valued cultures with respect to communication. We spent about 15 minutes trying to understand aspects of mainstream American culture versus other cultures that may affect communication. The Ambassadors and Eddie mentioned the following:
We concluded the meeting by all agreeing that most people acknowledge that we have moved forward as a result of the civil rights movement, but many Ambassadors were concerned that our progress has stalled. Though our perspectives vary, problems with race relations still loom large for our country. These problems are complex, defying simple definitions or quick solutions.
o Interestingly, two African American Ambassadors made the comment that they believe we still have a long way to go on racial issues while three other nonAfrican American Ambassadors made the comment that they believe we have made a lot of progress on racial issues and that we are “almost there.” This was interesting because after doing some research after the Ambassador meeting, many African American’s do feel this way and many white people make the opposite argument. o After these comments were made, Eddie concluded by the evening by asking the question: “With so many different experiences and understandings, how can we as a society make meaningful progress? Ophelia, Devon and Samia all answered the question with the basic response of: “Democratic Dialogue.” We can only make progress when every person takes part in defining the problem and finding ways to work with others to solve them.
Decision & Action Points: • Human Rights Forum – Will focus on Discrimination, civil rights, poverty and education www.GenerationEngage.org