Jim Mulholland never thought of himself as racist. He assumed the Civil Rights movement had solved the issue of racism. When he adopted a black daughter, he assumed being her parent would be no different than parenting a white child. He quickly learned he was wrong.

Mulholland still remembers when he first became aware of systemic racism. It was during a pre-kindergarten school visit when a school principal assumed his four-year-old black daughter was developmentally challenged. On that day, he vicariously experienced the injustice and rage people of color experience continually. It was also the beginning of his obsession with understanding racism within himself and society.

Not since the 1960s have racial tensions in the United States been so obvious for so many. Some deny this; others exploit it. Many are bewildered by it. In the midst of such tension, honest conversations about race and racism become difficult and discomforting.

Unfortunately many of us avoid them. Conversations across racial divides are one way to help us understand and address why a country claiming commitment to human equality and dignity continues to struggle with racism. On November 17, St. Matthew’s, Westerville, and Otterbein University invite people of all races to a day of cross-racial dialogue on race and racism.

The symposium will begin with Mulholland, author of the blog “Note To My White Self,” describing his journey from racist indifference to racist awareness. His talk will be followed by a frank discussion with Cherie Bridges Patrick, a social/racial justice coach and facilitator and member of St. Matthew’s, on the challenges to racial healing. Those attending will be invited to actively participate in the conversation and explore ways to move us beyond conversations.

Attendees will then have their choice of two awareness-expanding workshops. Mulholland will lead a workshop, “The Reasonableness of Reparations,” designed to help white people understand the cost of slavery and racial discrimination (limited to 50 participants). Concurrently, local Westerville pastor Vaughn Bell and Dr. Margaret Koehler, Professor of English at Otterbein University, will co-facilitate a workshop, “Who Do We Want in Our Community: Implicit and Explicit Bias in Westerville.” The day’s event will close with a discussion of both personal and corporate next steps.

Students are welcome to attend at no cost. For non-students, the suggested donation is $25 for each session (morning and an afternoon workshop) or $40 for both morning and afternoon sessions. Additional donations to the MLK Legacy Project are also welcomed. Registration is available at https://diosohio.org.