The treatment of Japanese Americans during World War II is a central theme of Snow Falling on Cedars. The book and its events are ideal springboards for discussions about race and racism. But it’s not always comfortable to talk about these subjects, and so people sometimes retreat.
One of our partner organizations is the Kalamazoo YWCA, the first and oldest YWCA in Michigan. Following a mission to eliminate racism and empower women, the YWCA offers a number of programs about racism and diversity. Maria Drawhorn, YWCA’s Chief Program Officer, very deftly led a conversation about race March 2. Beginning with a discussion of characters and incidents in Snow Falling on Cedars, she then moved to questions that allowed participants to examine how racism can be systemic or institutionalized. When participants were put into small group discussions, they seemed reluctant to stop talking.
The Kalamazoo community will be talking about race and racism over the next year. Snow Falling on Cedars was selected as a complementary prelude to an exhibit opening in October 2010. Race: Are We So Different? uses history, science and stories to understand what race is and is not. Read more about the exhibit and the community initiative that has been working to develop programs and conversations about this important topic.
Race: Why Are We So Different?