Chautauqua Mirror Project
Chautauqua Institution has a history of convening conversations and dialogue, with the African American Heritage House at Chautauqua hosting some of the most dynamic and important conversations about race on the grounds. The Institution and the AAHH are partnering on a project designed to spur community discussions about racism this summer and beyond.
Update January 2021: Thank you to everyone who answered prompts, participated in a webinar or otherwise engaged with the Mirror Project website during the Summer of 2020. Our project work is currently focused on Mirror Project Reading Circles and this site will not be monitored during the winter and spring months of 2021. If you are interested in learning more about our reading circles, please email our Director of Literary Arts, Sony Ton-Aime, at email@example.com.
Watch Community Discussions On Demand
by Jamie Clarkson, The Chautauquan Daily
The Mirror Project is a chance for the Chautauqua Institution community to reflect on racism and to help shape CHQ Assembly Virtual Porch discussions that will be offered online during the 2020 assembly and into later months. Starting this summer, the Institution and the African American Heritage House will host moderated discussions about the themes, concerns, or debates that emerge from our posted reflections.
Please answer as many of the prompts below as you wish and we will post responses here. Your responses will influence directly the topics chosen for discussion on the CHQ Assembly Virtual Porch. Throughout the summer, we will add additional questions and prompts based on presentations from speakers, artists, chaplains and guests.
We ask that you avoid hateful language and that you respect the opinions of others, even if you do not share them. Chautauqua Institution may remove any response it feels violates these guidelines.
Additional prompts that emerge from our online platform, such as questions posed to speakers, will be posted throughout the summer and we hope that you will come back often to respond to new prompts so the conversation grows and evolves.
The Initial Questions:
- How has your thinking about racism evolved since national protests and related media coverage began toward the end of May?
- Are you discussing racism in your family? If so, what are some of the learnings or insights you have had from those discussions? Is the conversation different among your friend group, colleagues or other cohorts? If so, how?
- Confirmation bias is a form of bias through which we interpret new evidence or information in a way that confirms our view on a topic. Do you think confirmation bias is at work in your thinking about race or racism? If so, how do you acknowledge it and how are you working to identify and prevent it? Does that work involve taking a more active stance, and, if yes, how so?
Added July 16:
- How do you respond to Clint Smith’s Ted Talk, “The Danger of Silence?” Have you had an experience where you regretted not speaking up? Can you recall a time where you were glad you did say something?
Added July 20
- Where are you in your understanding and acceptance of systemic racism as a concept? Do you agree with Dr. Rose’s statement that it exists alongside individual attitudes? If not, why not?
Added July 28
- What are you reading regarding race? Do you agree with all the author is saying? Do you prefer to read these materials alone or as part of a reading circle? Why or why not?
Added August 3
- Conduct an “inclusion audit” of yourself, your family, your community and share what you discover. For more about what an “inclusion audit” entails, you can view our August 3, 2020 Virtual Porch Chat with Dr. Robert Franklin.
Added October 15
Last month, we held our first Mirror Project Reading Circles during which more than one hundred people discussed Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. As follow-up:
Write a letter about race to someone or something. It can be a loved one, a stranger, an institution, a generation, a country, etc. In the letter, like Ta-Nehisi Coates, use current and past experiences, historical facts, and anecdotes and testimonies to support your topic.
Added November 2
In Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community, Martin Luther King advocates for social changes that persist to this day. In this spirit, we encourage you to write about something in our society that you have long wished to see changed and, in your own words, tell us how we as a society can change it. Please note that submissions cannot be longer than 1000 words.