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Posted on: November 5, 2020

Town of Davidson and Davidson College Unite in Path Forward for Racial Equity Training

The Town of Davidson and Davidson College are partnering with the Racial Equity Institute (REI), of Greensboro, NC, to offer the first stage of racial equity training on November 5-6, 2020. The town and the college are providing this virtual “Groundwater” training for all town staff, the board of commissioners, advisory boards, non-profit partners, and community leaders, including Unity in Community, along with many college staff, faculty, and students. 

 Davidson Mayor Rusty Knox, who has already completed the training, shared, “it’s so important for as many people in our community to receive this training as possible. The approach REI takes is so valuable and illuminating – we will all benefit from our partnership with them and can use this as a great opportunity to discuss some of the most critical issues in our town and all work to move forward together.” 

 Davidson College President Carol E. Quillen said the town and the college “are continuing a long partnership as we work to solve urgent issues in our town. Undertaking this training will help us to understand systemic racism and to work together to dismantle it as we seek to build a more just and humane community.”

About The Groundwater Approach

Our partners at REI explain that the Groundwater metaphor is designed to help practitioners at all levels internalize the reality that we live in a racially structured society, and that that is what causes racial inequity. The metaphor is based on three observations: 

  1. racial inequity looks the same across systems, 
  2. socio-economic difference does not explain the racial inequity; and,
  3. inequities are caused by systems, regardless of people’s culture or behavior. 

Embracing these truths helps leaders confront the reality that all our systems, institutions, and outcomes emanate from the racial hierarchy, on which the United States was built. In other words, we have a “groundwater” problem, and we need “groundwater” solutions. Starting from there, we begin to unlock transformative change.

Davidson College and the Town of Davidson Together

The Town of Davidson has been intentionally focused on equity and inclusion recently, one of the six strategic goals of the Davidson Board of Commissioners. Along with a comprehensive review of the Davidson Police Department Policies and Procedures and the hiring of a Housing and Equity Director (a new leadership position among town staff), the town also aimed to create an intensive racial equity education program for all town board members, advisory boards, and all town staff.

Davidson College, acting on its statement of purpose, is committed to honoring the dignity and worth of every person and to extending its loyalty to all of humanity. The college, acting on those commitments, this year offered the official report from the Commission on Race and Slavery and a series of initiatives that mark beginning steps toward building a more just and equitable community and world. Those initiatives included providing racial equity training opportunities for the campus community and working diligently to look beyond the campus bounds to connect with the local community on this important issue.

Moving Forward

The Town of Davidson and Davidson College plan to provide further opportunities for staff, faculty, students, advisory board members, and community partners to be able to participate in the “Groundwater” training with REI. Both organizations will provide more robust, in-person training for their teams as soon as conditions related to COVID-19 allow for these gatherings.

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