Ubuntu Racial Dialogue serves as safe, peaceful setting for conversations around racial inequality
FARGO, N.D. — As president of MSUM’s Students Internationally Together organization, Joseph Lewis says he’s always been involved in conversations regarding diversity.
He created the Ubuntu Racial Dialogue events as a way for the community to come together and simply listen to one another.
Most importantly, he says it’s a way for those who’ve been oppressed to have their voices heard in a safe and peaceful setting.
The first Ubuntu Racial Dialogue began around a bonfire in South Fargo a couple of weeks ago.
Community members both share and listen to stories of oppression in hopes of building a community without racial prejudice.
He says, “We realize that is one of the most needed topics in our community, so we figured sitting around a bonfire, six feet apart, and talking about these things is a way going forward.”
Lewis says Fargo’s protests inspired him to create these dialogues.
“While we were on the protest ground, everyone were like, ‘We need change, we need this, we need law enforcement to listen, we need politician to listen,’ and all I can hear from my colleagues, from everyone on the protest ground is, ‘We need dialogue.'”
Now, the conversation is also involving Fargo Police.
“The community has to have trust in their police department,” says Fargo Police Sgt. Cristie Jacobsen. “We don’t want what’s going on in other large cities where there’s a divide between the people and the government agencies and law enforcement.”
Officers joined in on the second round of discussion and supplied a sound system for people to hear each other’s cries for change loud and clear.
“Fargo PD is the law enforcement in our community, and they are part of our community, so there’s no way you can have a dialogue that don’t invite them,” says Lewis.
He adds that he hopes the space he’s created for these talks will be the new norm.
“We pride ourself as a community of diversity. There’s no reason why you should not have diversity-related conversation.”
The overall goal, he says, is acknowledging our differences while finding common ground and unity.
He says ultimately, this will lead to policies that acknowledge people’s experiences.
Lewis hopes local politicians, including mayors across the metro, will join the Ubuntu Racial Dialogues.
Find the next one on Facebook by clicking here.