Glenn HarrisBy Jeremiah Manes, Intern

On October 22nd, members of PJALS along with others in the community were able to attend a workshop by Glenn Harris titled, “Why Race Matters: Tools and Strategies for Strengthening Community.” This interactive workshop on bias and race allowed for participants to assess their organization and it’s possible contribution to disparity, while fostering conversations on questions such as, “Why does race matter?”

Glenn Harris, the Race and Social Justice Initiative Manager for the city of Seattle, had excellent examples of present-day institutional racism that inspired conversation among the small groups. He also shared minor policy changes that were extremely helpful for oppressed groups, such as a story of crime on the rise in an area of Seattle being curbed by mandatory light bulb replacement for city streetlights. This simple change effectively made a community safer by eliminating the need for persons to report an expired streetlight in order for it to be replaced.

Mr. Harris gave a clever and humorous description of the difference between equality and equity by describing the restroom situation at sports arenas where we have equality (men and women have the same number of restrooms) but because the line for women to use the restroom is twice as long, we are not facilitating equity. He went on to describe how such inequitable situations affect everyone involved, such as the men waiting for the women in the long line.

In the evening, Glenn gave a presentation titled “Governing for Racial Equity in the Criminal Justice System,” which included a panel discussion by local leaders of color. This presentation urged local leaders to work towards the elimination of racial disparities.