April 19, 2018, University of New England, Race

Reflections on Race in a sea of “Whiteness”

April 19, 2018

2:00pm to 5:00pm

St. Francis Room, Ketchum Library

University of New England

11 Beach Hills Rd., Biddeford, Maine

Hosted By UNE Libraries


How does your understanding of race impact how you see yourself relative to others?

What role does race play in your self-understanding?

Have you had conversations about race with your family? Your friends? Strangers? If so, what did those conversations look like?

How has your race impacted your access to resources, education and/or income? If it hasn’t, why do you think that is?

How do you think your racial identity plays a role in your everyday life?

Have you ever felt like you race and/or ethnicity (or any other identity) has played a role in your personal safety?

What kind of narratives were in your history books growing up? What group of people were represented? Which groups did you feel were left out? And how has your reading of such history shaped your opinions about race and ethnicity today.

Based on your experience, How would you characterize the United States’ criminal justice system? If you have experience with criminal justice systems in other nations, how do you think ours compares?



Come to the Make Shift Coffee House to discuss these and related questions!

According to 2016 census data the population of Maine is 94.8% white. Maine is the second whitest state in the nation behind Vermont. Enrollment at the University of New England mirror these trends with a faculty that is 90.61% white and a student body that is 68.5% white. Moreover, undergraduates students are 87.5% white up from 69.8% white in 2013. How does this impact us?

Definitions of “whiteness” have changed throughout the history of the United States. As Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote in Between the World and Me, “But race is the child of racism, not the father. And the process of naming ‘the people’ has never been a matter of genealogy and physiognomy so much as one of hierarchy. Difference in hue and hair is old. But the belief in the preeminence of hue and hair, the notion that these factors can correctly organize a society and that they signify deeper attributes, which are indelible—this is the new idea at the heart of these new people who have been brought up hopelessly, tragically, deceitfully, to believe that they are white.”


A Make Shift Coffee House is where people with differing political views can meet and learn from each other. There’s coffee and food and live music. Guided by a neutral moderator, all voices and views are heard and respected.

It’s not about persuading each other. We ask questions and hear what’s important to the “other side.” It’s okay if we don’t agree. All are welcome.

Live music Too!


  • Free food and live music starts at 2:00pm; a chance to get a snack and chat with in pairs or small groups for 15-20 minutes.
  • The heart of the event is the next hour or so where the full group will engage in facilitated discussion. Following guidelines for a civil conversation, we learn from each other by asking questions and hearing what’s important to the “other side.” All that’s required is a desire to understand and the willingness to listen.
  • After the full group discussion we’ll strike up the music again, get another cup of coffee, and talk in small groups about specific topics. Some of us will talk in pairs. It’s informal. It’s a coffee house!
  • Before wrapping up, Craig will bring the group back together in one last group dialogue. This time could be used for a wrap up with a summary of key concepts as well as any more input from the group. Although our time frame may vary, it might look like this.

2:00 pm      Live Music. Coffee, tea, snacks. Small informal conversations.

2:20pm      Full Group Conversation

3:30pm      Live music. Coffee, tea, snacks. Small informal conversations.

4:15pm      Full Group Conversation

4:45pm      Live music. Coffee, tea, snacks. Small informal conversations.

5:00 pm      End


Click here to learn about the Make Shift Coffee House culture and why understanding each other is so useful.

This Make Shift Coffee House will be moderated by Craig Freshley of Good Group Decisions. A professional meeting facilitator, Craig will manage a civil exchange of ideas as a neutral third party. It’s not about judging right or wrong or good or bad, it’s about understanding each others’ perspectives.

Interested in future Make Shift Coffee Houses?

Click here if interested in receiving notices, hosting, or volunteering.