Cooley Dickinson Hospital to host forums on race in June

  • Cooley Dickinson Health Care is sponsoring community dialogues on race this month in partnership with the United Way of Hampshire County and the Jandon Center for Community Engagement at Smith College. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

For the Gazette
Published: 5/31/2017 6:17:49 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Cooley Dickinson Health Care, in partnership with the United Way of Hampshire County and the Jandon Center for Community Engagement at Smith College, is holding two community dialogues on race this month.

The first is to be held at the Jandon Center for Community Engagement at Smith College on Friday from 6 to 8 p.m., and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The second will be at the Amherst Survival Center on Friday, June 9, from 6 to 8 p.m., and Saturday, June 10, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The dialogues have been developed by head facilitator Kent Alexander as part of his work with Cooley Dickinson’s Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee. The committee was founded in 2014 as a response to national incidents of police brutality specifically targeting black men.

“Since people of color had no choice but to resist what’s going on, the Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee saw the importance of standing in solidarity with people of color,” Alexander said.

The goal of the dialogues is to educate participants on issues surrounding race-related incidents and to provide a forum for people of color to share their stories. Participants are encouraged to educate themselves and think about ways that they can make their communities more racially just.

“It’s really important that people have a safe place where they can come together to talk about race,” said assistant facilitator Jeff Harness, director of community health at Cooley Dickinson.

Both facilitators stressed that racial equity is an important aspect of community health.

“Good health is more likely to happen when people come together to create the kind of community they want and these dialogues are one opportunity to do that,” Harness said. “Health is more than education, it’s inclusion and working together.”

Alexander expressed a similar sentiment: “we’re all in this together.”

CDH spokeswoman Christina Trinchero said in a press release that the dialogues aim to “unite divided communities through a respectful, informed sharing of local racial history and its consequences for different people in today’s society.”

Anyone is welcome to participate in the dialogues. The organizers hope that half of the participants will be people of color.

“We want people of color to participate to tell their stories,” said Alexander. “If you have several people who go through the same experience, it then becomes data.”

To register to attend the sessions, call 888-554-4234.

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