“Building Conversations on Race in America”

Contributor: Julie Pierce Williams

We’re honored to welcome Julie Williams as a new member of the P.S. 314 Field Expert Collective. Julie is Principal of Kirtan Solutions, a consulting firm committed to building high-performing, high impact organizations that work to improve opportunities for others. Julie formally served as an appointee in the Obama Administration and continues her work as a change agent serving as a lead member of the Design Team for the WK Kellogg Foundation’s Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation initiative, addressing the historic and contemporary effects of racism. Given her expertise in the field and our collective need as citizens to build the bridges toward racial healing, we asked Julie to provide us with some advice in navigating conversations on race in our communities.

As individuals, we can all play a role in helping to eradicate racism. We can take actions that can affect our families, communities, and ultimately the country as a whole. To do that, it’s very important that we first each take time to understand our own unconscious beliefs and biases. Implicit associations we harbor in our subconscious generate feelings and attitudes about others simply based on how we see them or what we think we know about them. These associations develop within us, beginning at a very early age. Start today to unravel your own biases:

  • Ask yourself what stories you believe about the human family? How did that story come to be in your mind and life experience?
  • Begin to understand what you learned about the origin of your family. Was immigration a part of that story? Was your family on this land before it became America?
  • Formulate your own authentic personal story about how you were raised, how you grew up, and when you first experienced racism.
  • Take an Implicit Association Test to see your unconscious biases
  • Make a commitment to learn about others’ personal stories and their understanding of the human family. Stretch yourself to replace these stories with what you previously perceived – moving toward a view of humanity where all share equal value and worth.

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