Houston Matters

How Have Conversations About Race Changed in Houston?

This past Friday morning, Dallas police received reports a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in a park named for him had been vandalized. Someone spray-painted the word “shame” on the base of the statue. The incident came two weeks after protesters gathered in the park to hold an “undedication” ceremony. And it was reported […]

This past Friday morning, Dallas police received reports a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in a park named for him had been vandalized. Someone spray-painted the word “shame” on the base of the statue. The incident came two weeks after protesters gathered in the park to hold an “undedication” ceremony. And it was reported the same morning the Confederate battle flag was removed from the statehouse in Charleston, S.C.

That move follows last month’s racially-motivated shooting at an historic black church in Charleston, which sparked a nationwide backlash against Confederate symbols still displayed in many southern states. Debate continues not over just the use of the battle flag, but also over statues, street names, parks and buildings that honor leaders of the Confederacy. Supporters of such changes say they’re racist symbols that should have been removed or replaced long ago; defenders argue they’re a part of our history.

Since 1989, the Center for the Healing of Racism has facilitated conversations over the impact of racism here in Greater Houston. The non-profit hosts workshops encouraging residents from all backgrounds to come together and share their thoughts, feelings and experiences with racism.

Today, we talk with the co-founder of the center about local efforts to encourage an open conversation about race within Houston’s diverse community. We also talk with a retired sociologist about his observations of racism in Houston over the past 30 years. And we discuss the current debate over symbols of the Confederacy and other recent issues involving race in Houston and elsewhere.

Then, we discuss how many different communities can be the target of racism. We talk with an area immigration attorney about hate crimes and discrimination in recent years against Islamic, Sikh and Hindu communities.

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