In its most basic form, Interpoint is meant to represent a conversation. In an attempt to further understand their own racial identities and relationships, our founders Emma and Lauren decided to do what many don’t even consider to be an option; have a conversation about it. Both were shocked at the transformational impact that such a simple act had on their own perceptions, understandings, and empathy towards a race that is not their own. Both, also, realized the extreme lack of resources that students had when trying to start a racial conversation. And they set out to design a program that would cultivate healthy, respectful, and honest dialogue around race. And Interpoint was born… With a few minor adjustments from their initial conversation.
Our founders chose a roundtable discussion model to encourage active participation and curated a list of strategic questions that would allow participants to remain truthful to their experience, while not compromising a sense of respect. Racism is not an easy topic to handle, and these two women recognized the fueling nature that it can have on student’s emotions. In order to ensure the safety of those conversing, Interpoint trained student facilitators to participate in our programs to help navigate these sometimes uncomfortable conversations. Conversation is essential, so we at Interpoint recognized the role education plays in promoting further activism.
Today, our facilitators are also trained to gear conversations towards positive ways to further instigate change. We listen, ask questions, and hope to engage as many opinions and perspectives as possible. After a successful first conversation of over 235 attendees, our original team of 10 facilitators had to adapt to expand their role and increase their involvement in each conversation.
Our facilitators are the lifeblood of our organization, as they also serve on various leadership committees integral to the function, expansion, and mission of Interpoint as a whole. Interpoint is an organization committed to these discussions and understanding the varying viewpoints they help us understand. We’re committed to talking about the issues our country faces and expanding our understanding of the world around us.
Both Lauren and Emma found that the power behind Interpoint came from its simplicity. It’s just a conversation. No fancy lights, expensive social studies, or even chairs sometimes. That’s why we think Interpoint is so special. In many ways, Interpoint is evidence the challenge of race relations isn't as complicated as everyone makes it out to be. If figuring out race relations is a marathon, maybe we’re more in shape than we’re taught to believe. Maybe the power to dismantle the hateful realities that so many communities face lies in our own mouths. Maybe our own implicit biases about race are not the only problem, but a side effect of a much greater problem; Ignorance. And maybe, just maybe, there are more accessible ways to combat that ignorance.
We believe in the power of personal anecdotes. We believe in the power of a hug from a stranger. We believe in the power of validation, of questions, and of awkwardness.
We believe that we have more people on “our team” than we care to admit. We think our conversations can help us realize that, or at the very least, get us at the starting line.
TIMES NEW ROMAN?
Times New Roman has long been the font of education, prestige, and a commitment to higher morality. Interpoint believes it is the responsibility of our educational institutions to provide a space for students to feel safe regardless of their race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation. That's why our logo uses it. We also believe, however, that this responsibility cannot be fulfilled by following the “colorblind” mantra that many institutions have adopted throughout the years.
We are not all the same, and we are tired of being taught that this is our greatest burden. Some of our strength comes from our diverse identities, and validating that can be more unifying and empowering than you could imagine.
Cultural diversity provides an opportunity to enrich not only the student body, but the communities that those students will eventually lead. The silence of our educational systems is transforming into the racial violence plaguing our nation today, and we have the power to stop it. By educating yourself, being introduced to perspectives different from your own, and empathizing with the pain of others, we as students can lead our nation by example.
We can learn, and teach others, to speak up in a system made to keep us silent.
WHERE WE COME FROM.
Interpoint was first implemented at the University of Richmond as a three-part discussion series during the spring semester of 2020. This series was designed to bring together U of R students from many different racial/cultural backgrounds, as well as different academic, extracurricular, and social groups, to start an educational conversation about race as a way of addressing the racial inequalities both in Richmond, VA and on the University of Richmond campus. We thank the University for their growing support of our cause. In particular, we would like to thank Blake Stack, the assistant director of student engagement and the Bonner Scholars Program, who has shown endless support, compassion, and guidance for our founders and their vision. We wouldn't be where we are today without you Blake.