First Alaskans to host public forum on racial equity

The First Alaskans Institute in Anchorage is hosting a gathering it’s calling: “Partners for the next 10,000 years:  A Racial Equity Summit.” They’re inviting the public to join in discussions on ways to use education, law, policy, and advocacy to work toward racial equity.

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Andrea Sanders is the Alaska Native Policy Director for the First Alaskans Institute. She said organizers are seeking a range of views for thoughtful, candid conversations on race. They’ve invited public policy-makers, and representatives of business and communities of color, as well as the general public. Sanders said the goal is to bring people together and to mobilize action.

“Our goal is to really change people’s perspective on racial equity issues and really bringing them to a point of having a personal or professional commitment to this work so they can join us in instilling racial equity as a value of all Alaskans,” said Sanders.

It can be uncomfortable to talk about race. Speakers will give presentations on topics such as white privilege, institutional racism, micro-aggressions, and internalized oppression.

But Sanders said creative and non-traditional speakers – including a hip-hop scholar from New York, a Maori educator from New Zealand, and an attorney and author from the Blackfeet and Suquamish reservations – will also share powerful stories that inform and inspire, as well as instruct. And, Sanders said, the sketch comedy group 1491 will lighten the mood.

“We’re finding ways to bring humor which is one of our Native values into the space , on a topic that’s not always very easy to discuss,” said Sanders. “So we’re trying to break down, break down the barriers, and bringing in humor, bringing in international and national perspectives so that it’s easier for folks, a little bit easier to digest and receiving it in different ways to communication.”

The First Alaskans’ Institute Racial Equity Summit is scheduled for February first and second in Anchorage.

Joaqlin Estus is a reporter at KNBA in Anchorage.

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