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Palm Coast Friday, Jan. 21, 2022 4 months ago

What we talk about when we talk about race: Flagler group grows to 41 women

University Women of Flagler members began a discussion group called Seeking Insights for Solutions to explore, understand and find solutions for racial equity.
by: Guest Writer

by: Josephine Dervan

Co-President Elect, University Women of Flagler

How can we better understand our neighbors of different races? One group of women decided it should start with conversation.

The group began in May 2020 when four local women — Gina McLaughlin, Trish Le Net, Joanne Mason, and Bettie Eubanks — formed a discussion group to explore, understand and find solutions for racial equity. The women, two Black, two white, all members of University Women of Flagler, eventually named it SIS (Seeking Insights for Solutions). The group now has 41 members.

The founders paired up cross-racially to interview each other using a set of research-based questions about the neighborhoods in which they grew up, their education, their career, racial encounters and conversations about race with older and younger family members. They wanted to understand what part race played in their personal lives. The group rapidly grew and as new members joined, they also took part in the interviews. 

As the group discussed what they learned from the interviews, members saw patterns emerge. One such pattern is that the majority grew up in predominantly Black or white neighborhoods. They discovered that the white women had grown up in a “bubble,” where race was seldom, if ever, mentioned and where they rarely, if ever, even encountered a person of another race until later in life. 

On the contrary, the Black women have often had to navigate a white world which controlled schools, employment, businesses, housing, health care and the criminal justice system.

The women wanted to understand why such patterns exist, what caused them and predictable outcomes. Through the interviews, discussions and research, they discovered many local historical examples of racial inequities. Here are three:

  • Flagler Schools were not integrated until 1973, under court order;
  • The Bunnell hospital was segregated until 1966;
  • Flagler Beach did not allow Black people to be in the town after dark, before the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In order to share with the community what they learned, SIS members decided to create a video entitled "Seeking and Sharing Insights: Race and Equality." It has been shown it to the general membership of University Women of Flagler and to local churches. Additional viewings have been scheduled in Flagler County.


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