— Pier Duncan
Prompt: What did the CONNECT experience mean to you? What's one thing you read that shocked you? What was an epiphany you had during a session? How does our work connect to your understanding of the current political climate? How does this work fit into your personal and professional journey?
I’m grateful that CONNECT has equipped me with a text-based and academic framework to make sense of the inexplicable rage many Americans seem to feel over the very idea of black people and other minorities making progress in this country. Prior to participating in CONNECT, most of my context came from simply existing as a Black American and therefore being routinely exposed to the effects of institutionalized racism through personal experiences, family anecdotes, and just observing the world around me. You see everything — too much at times. But part and parcel of that unique experience is the gaslighting that comes with it. It can be so difficult to illustrate the inequities that feel very real to me to others who are privileged enough to avoid those same inequities to the point of not even believing they’re legitimate and real. It’s frustrating. So to have the language and the information to demonstrate how what’s happening now is not a product of liberal sensitivities or Trump’s America, but a centuries-long trend of systematic and intentional disenfranchisement of black people is honestly amazingly empowering. Often, the biggest challenge in convincing someone that institutionalized racism is a thing is getting them to discard the revisionist history we learn in school, and I feel that I needed this education to educate others. The “icing on the cake” was being able to have this conversation in such a diverse group. I don’t frankly discuss racism with anyone outside of family and friends, most of whom are black. The diversity of the group created a richer dialogue that engaged the material in a broader fashion than if I’d just examined this book with friends.
— Pier Duncan