Black + Gold Series: An imperative cross racial dialogue

Black + Gold Series
Pedestrians walk in the Chinatown neighborhood of Philadelphia, Friday, July 22, 2022.
AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Conversation is key.

That is the idea behind Philadelphia’s ‘Black + Gold Series‘— a citywide initiative meant to build cross racial dialogue and promote mutual understanding between Black and Asian American communities. 

The Black + Gold Series was designed to be an open initiative that invites community leaders to “own” pieces of the effort. The city’s Office of Public Engagement set up a submission form for community members to send ideas on Black + Gold themed programs.

With several efforts and conversations, community leaders such as members of the Mayor’s Commission on African and Caribbean Immigrant Affairs, Mayor’s Commission on African American Males and the Mayor’s Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs, came together to begin the dialogue of racial reconciliation and looked to the city’s office to bring these ideas to life.

“The onset of the pandemic in 2020 exposed major cracks in our systems, and accelerated trauma for our residents, particularly communities of color. At the same time, George Floyd’s murder and the rise of anti-Asian hate and violence were harsh realities that deeply impacted our Black and Asian residents,” said Romana Lee of the Office of Public Engagement.

The cross racial dialogue for these two minority communities is essential in creating unity and understanding amidst a collective search for justice. 

According to a report from NY1, hate crimes against Asian Americans jumped 342% from 2020 to 2021. On Nov. 17, 2021, four Asian American students were harassed and attacked on the SEPTA Broad Street Line by a group of young Black female students. Of the attacked, one young girl stepped up to diffuse the situation, and was dragged and beaten with a shoe on the train car.

One of the major hopes of the Black + Gold Series is to reach Philadelphia’s Black and Asian youth and address underlying racial tensions before they escalate to violence. 

Over the past year, the city has been engaging with the School District of Philadelphia on the topic, and we continue to explore ways to raise awareness of the impact that race-based conflict has on our young people; this critical work remains in progress,” said Saptarshi Dutt of the Mayor’s Office of Public Engagement. 

In a more recent segment on the Black + Gold series, Lee sat down with Otis Hackney, the former principal at South Philadelphia High School who is now Chief Education Officer for the City of Philadelphia. The segment highlights his best practices and lessons learned from his experiences overseeing the recovery and transformation at the school. 

In addition to opening necessary dialogue, the Black + Gold series aims to address community development and economic issues—specifically, a focus on homeownership education and efforts to preserve longtime businesses within the Black and Asian community. 

The Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations will be training more facilitators in the Office of Public Engagement’s model this fall, and will also be partnering with Mural Arts to develop a mural that centers the experiences of both Black and Asian residents in Philadelphia. 

For additional information or to get involved, visit https://sites.google.com/view/blackgoldseries

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