Can talking about race make a difference?


KBOO is open to the public! To visit the station, contact your staff person or call 503-231-8032.

Produced by: 
Air date: 
Wed, 08/05/2009 - 5:00pm

Last month, President Obama sat down over beers with a Cambridge cop and a Harvard professor to talk about an ugly incident that brought home how deep racial tensions still run in our nation. The president saw the arrest of Henry Louis Gates, Jr. by Sgt. James Crowly as a "teachable moment" that could help Americans in their struggle to understand race and its impacts. But can talking about race make a difference?

In Portland, where gentrification has fueled racial tensions, John Canda and Judith Mowry think talking is essential to get people to confront issues they ignore or pretend don't exist within our community and the nation. For the last two years, the city's Office of Neighborhood Involvement and the Restorative Listening Project has been holding their own versions of President Obama's "beer summit" in North and Northeast Portland, bringing together through the Uniting to Understand Racism program. Can talk reduce racial strife? Does bringing people together to confront difficult issues that go to the heart of how power is or isn't shared make our democracy stronger?

Jo Ann and Dave talk with the Restorative Listening Project's John Canda and the Office of Neighborhood Involvement's Judith Mowry about what we have to gain by talking to each other.

The conversation doesn't end when the program does. You can join in additional discussion of the week's issue on our blog at (click on the "blog" tab). You'll find additional information, important links, comments from other listeners and commentary from Jo Ann and Dave. Have a question for our guests, but can't call in during the program? Post your questions on line so we can make them a part of the Voices discussion.

Audio by Topic: