Chamberlain residents discuss racismCHAMBERLAIN — Residents of Chamberlain converged Tuesday evening on St. Joseph’s Indian School to challenge each other on issues of race and discrimination in their community, and to ask if they could diminish racism for future generations.
By: Chris Mueller, The Daily Republic
CHAMBERLAIN — Residents of Chamberlain converged Tuesday evening on St. Joseph’s Indian School to challenge each other on issues of race and discrimination in their community, and to ask if they could diminish racism for future generations.
The meeting, held by the Institute for Healing Racism, was highlighted by a presentation from speakers Mark Freado and J.C. Chambers, who discussed how the issue of racism can be dealt with in their community. About 15 percent of Chamberlain’s 2,387 residents are American Indian, according to the 2010 census, and there are two Indian reservations nearby.
“We’re not talking about educating adults, but challenging them to change the way they think about themselves and their brothers and sisters,” Chambers said.
Freado explained how he thinks attitudes toward discrimination could be changed to an audience that included students from St. Joseph’s sitting alongside other Chamberlain residents.
“Change isn’t going to come from talking about it,” Freado said. “It’s going to come from understanding what that experience is like.”
Freado said the process of healing racism in Chamberlain will require an effort beyond simple solutions.
“Do we have the courage to stand up for what’s right or stop something that’s wrong?” he asked.
Both presenters were hopeful the adults in the audience will make a difference for younger generations.
“What we want for Chamberlain is to see the adults go to war for the kids,” Chambers said, “so they are no longer judged by the color of their skin.”
The executive director of St. Joseph’s Indian School echoed that sentiment after the presentation ended.
“It’s not about the adults, it’s about the kids,” Tyrell said, “to make the community better for the next generation.”
Jim Cadwell, who works with staff at Sanford Health to help them become more culturally competent, was in the audience for the presentation.
“I don’t think we’ll ever be totally over the problem of racism in Chamberlain,” Cadwell said.
Cadwell is hopeful this gathering will be a step in the right direction for the community.
“Getting it out there is a big step,” he said. “We have to be constantly challenging each other on this.”
Lisa Lengkeek was also in the audience and said she feels the attitudes of young people toward discrimination they’ve picked up at home will be the hardest thing to change.
Those feelings are hard to break after generations of teaching, she said, which make those feelings deeply ingrained.
Attitudes were hopeful after both speakers acknowledged the effort being made to heal racism in Chamberlain.
“We’ve not done this in any other place where at the end of our session the discussion is like what it is here,” Chambers said.