Race relations and civic engagement specialist visits EMU

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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — A guest speaker from North Carolina is spending some time at Eastern Mennonite University this week, talking tough conversations and race relations.

Dr. David Campt is leading a class at the Summer Peacebuilding Institute all week. He's talking to folks about how they can turn conflict into a connection by focusing on ways they can transform an argument into a mutual understanding.

"These are important skills for any peacebuilder," said Campt. "It's all about empowering people, and not just empowering them, but equipping them with skills and techniques and a strategy to have a difficult conversation."

In addition to teaching this SPI course, he'll also host a workshop on Saturday, June 17 called "White Ally 4.0."

This workshop is meant to bridge the gap between people who believe racism exists in our society and those who don't.

"What you're trying to create among the allies is the capacity to talk to a racism skeptic in a way that's respectful, and in a way that both people are bringing to bear their honest perspective about things and do some storytelling," said Campt.

Campt said minorities can't beat out racism on their own, and they need help to shed light on a topic that's not often discussed.

"People who don't think racism is real often feel attacked by people who do think racism is real, especially people of color, but even other white folks," said Campt. "It's important that white allies learn how to listen empathetically and not always be in a stance of criticism and calling other people names."

Campt has lead similar discussions with White House staff and members of Congress.

This workshop is free and open to the public. It will take place at Ashbury United Methodist Church in Harrisonburg from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on June 17.