The first of various dialogues around significant issues facing our communities and the world. There will be a short talk followed by an open discussion.
A collaboration of the Scoville Memorial Library and Congregational Church of Salisbury, UCC
VanSant addresses personal identity and bias and their relationship to systemic racism and cultural barriers. Biases are both our preferences and blind-spots. Everyone has them. Through people trained in cultural competency we can discover whether our biases serve humanity. She explores how our individual and collective actions can dismantle or uphold the racial disparities existing in education, health, poverty and other aspects of community. Establishing new pathways or breaking old habits can be difficult yet are essential for our personal and societal well being. Following the talk there will be a facilitated community dialogue to shed light on our own individual and community biases, identify the work that needs to be done and provide us with examples of accountability structures to support such work.
Gwendolyn VanSant is a well-recognized thought leader in diversity leadership and community organizing for racial justice. She is the CEO & Founding Director of BRIDGE, a frequent speaker, and a longtime activist. BRIDGE offers cultural competency trainings for companies and institutions to support systemic justice. BRIDGE offers many community service programs. BRIDGE’s Women to Women program recently celebrated its tenth year of supporting immigrant women. VanSant is currently the Vice Chair of the Great Barrington W. E. B. Du Bois Legacy Committee. In addition to supporting Du Bois’s legacy, she has founded several initiatives based on the principles of equity and justice, the inherent dignity and worth of individuals, and our interconnected web of humanity. She serves on the board of Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts.