Whether we want to or not, we all live inside filter bubbles. Our experience of the world is limited by filters beyond our control. This happens online and in every aspect of our lives. Our physical locations, jobs, interpersonal networks, cultures, and much more not only give us our identities, they also limit, exclude, and segregate. We do, however, have choices about how we respond to those filters.
Colby visited Blue Valley North High School, Johnson County Community College, and Johnson County Library in the Fall of 2014 to discuss his book. Race Project KC emerged after this visit, as local educators and JoCoLibrary staff were inspired to extend his work into experiences for area teens--chances for them to learn why and how our community has come to its current state of racial segregation and for them to break out of some of their bubbles. The initiative has been expanding since.
Race Project KC now consists of a series of opportunities for high school students to learn Johnson County, Wyandotte County, and Jackson County’s history of racial segregation and how it continues to impact us today. Students encounter experts on the topics, learn vocabulary for talking about race, build relationships with peers they might not otherwise meet, and share their own stories as they relate to the issues.
This occurs through monthly events for student groups. The library collaborates with educators, subject experts, authors, and community partners to provide these experiences. High Schools participate by attending monthly all-day workshops with partner schools from a different part of the city, one with a different cultural and socioeconomic background. These events are followed each year by a culminating symposium including all schools that features Colby in conversation with other authors and experts. Through this work we hope to create collective knowledge of how we came to be a segregated community and awareness of how we can shape a more positive, inclusive future for all.
When you're white in America, life is a restricted country club by default, engineered in such a way that the problems of race rarely intrude on you personally. During the time of Jim Crow, it took a great deal of terrorism, fear, and deliberate, purposeful discrimination to keep the color line in place. What's curious about America today is that you can be white and enjoy much of the same isolation and exclusivity without having to do anything. As long as you're not the guy dumb enough to get caught emailing racist jokes around the office, all you have to do is read about black people in the newspaper. And, really, you don't even have to do that. Where you need a deliberate, purposeful sense of action is to go the other way, to leave the country club and see what's going on out in the world. ~ Tanner Colby, Some of My Best Friends Are Black