Executive Assistant to Frances Wolf
What is your definition of racism?
Racism is thinking less of a specific ethnic group, using stereotypes and many times, inaccurate information to cast judgment. [It is when you] think less of others and put them into a specific category of not being worthy that another ethnic group is.
How have you experienced racism within our region?
I don’t necessarily see racism day in and day out, but when I was around 10 years old, my siblings and cousins and I got into an incident with our neighbors. It escalated and our parents had to get involved and out of nowhere, the other children started calling us the N-word.
When I was in theater school, other Black students would comment on my eye color and skin complexion and tell me that I wasn’t Black because of how [light] they are. It was difficult to understand when I was younger, because I come from a Black family and we all have different skin tones and body shapes. As I got older, I started to understand that these thought processes are rooted in racism and how we were taught as humans to view other humans. Unfortunately, a lot of this also happens within our own community and ethnic group.
What is one thing that we can do as a region to be better?
I think we have to stop telling each other that we are wrong and start listening to what we all have to say. There are so many instances where I will try to alleviate racism but the person next to me will do or say something completely different. A lot of times, I think we end up missing each other’s point and we are not understanding that there is space in this fight for all of us.
We need people on the front lines who are going to protests and rallies, but we also need people who are pushing for legislation [reform]. We need allies – people who are not necessarily people of color, but who believe in equality and are fighting the same fight.
I have conversations with my Black family members and a lot of times, we come head-to-head because they don’t understand where I’m coming from, which may be generational in some ways, but we need to stop telling one another that we are wrong and start listening to each other. If we’re constantly arguing and not hearing each other’s points, we can’t come to a compromise and make progress.
I am so impressed with our city; this is the first time that I’ve seen Harrisburg come out in such a huge way. We are really educating ourselves on the legislation that exists on the history of not just slavery, but racism and how it affected our area, not just the nation, but what it looked like here and how it helped shape where we live today. It’s beautiful and really inspiring, I hope we can keep this momentum going because it’s so important.