Last night the League of Women Voters of Naperville held a virtual conversation about white privilege.
The discussion was the first in a monthly series of “Living Room Conversations” virtual events planned by the group for 2021, highlighting pertinent issues in society.
The free event was structured as a conversation encouraging participants to speak to each other and share their opinions. Organizers shared select media to prompt meaningful dialogue. During the program, excerpts from the podcast “On Being” were played. The podcast episode was titled “Talking About Whiteness” and featured an interview with Northwestern university professor Eula Biss, who had written a New York Times article titled “White Debt” which was also discussed as a part of the event.
Difficult but Important Conversations
One of the first talking points was complacency, defined by one participant as “staying silent even when you know there’s a problem.” Discussion turned to sympathy and empathy being solutions to complacency against discrimination.
One participant shared “It requires us to see a shift in how we see the world and ourselves. Sometimes you think back to ‘what could I have done?'” in regards to being made aware of privileges they have, that others might not.
Another said, “Learning more about the subject isn’t meant to make anyone feel guilty, or bad, or responsible for actions of other people in the past, but it’s important to learn about it to understand it,” as conversation shifted into the importance of being aware of societal privilege.
Talking About Change
One of the excerpts from the podcast shared at the event was a clip of Eula Biss stating “I feel that I owe it to my neighbors not to reduce them to symbols. To see them as people and not as symbols or ideas or shorthand for an experience that we assume is shared or might not be shared.”
It’s a sentiment event moderator Kelly Mahoney said was the core of what was being discussed during the Living Room Conversation.
More information about future Living Room Conversations is available on the League of Women Voters of Naperville’s website.
Naperville News 17’s Ryan Skryd reports.
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