Posted on: January 28, 2022 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

Photo by form PxHere

By JRN 111 Students

One thing we can all agree on: This country is divided.

With the art of civil discourse disappearing, Kevin Navratil set out to do something about it by creating a new initiative at Moraine called “Difficult Conversations,” kicking off 1-2 p.m. Tuesday via WebEx. Students, faculty and staff, as well as members of the community, are welcome to participate.

Navratil, a political science professor who coordinates the college’s Democracy Commitment program, is teaming up with Dewitt Scott, student support specialist, to model and lead respectful conversations about challenging topics throughout the semester. Tuesday’s topic is “Examining the racial wealth gap in America and potential solutions to reduce the gap.” 

“There’s a significant polarization in the United States, and our quality of conversation is pretty horrific,” Navratil says. “Many times people try to either avoid difficult topics or try to treat it like a debate where you destroy the other side. They don’t come into it with an open mind trying to learn from each other.”

Navratil said he realized Scott might be the perfect person to team up with for this project after watching several videos Scott had done for the Moraine Reads program, where members of the MV community share books that are important or interesting to them.

“it was clear DeWitt had a good handle on several issues that were key in the African-American community, facing Black Americans,” he said. “I knew that race-related issues were a key divide among many Americans, and he and I could have some conversations to try to grapple with some of these difficult topics.”

Scott suggested the topic of the racial wealth gap as one that influences many other key issues in this country. This first talk also coincides with the start of Black History Month.

“It’s important to model and practice conversations on difficult topics in a way that’s trying to learn from each other,” Navratil said. “Not to say that we’re experts, but this could be a model others could borrow from.”

Navratil hopes to engage the audience in the discussion as well: “We’re trying to generate questions and make it as interactive as possible.”

To participate in the event, simply click on the WebEx link at 1 p.m. Tuesday.

The event will be recorded and made available on the library’s YouTube channel at a later date. Additional Difficult Conversations on various topics are planned on Feb. 15, March 1, March 22, April 5, April 19, and May 3.