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Racial Trauma and Racial Sensitivity Workshop Held at the Omni Thursday

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Dr. Hardy speaking at the workshop Dr. Hardy speaking at the workshop
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -

An internationally recognized clinician is teaching people in Charlottesville how to better handle racial trauma and improve racial sensitivity after the violence of last summer.

A racial trauma and racial sensitivity workshop was held by the Counseling Alliance of Virginia at the Omni Hotel Thursday. Organizers say their goal is to help heal Charlottesville after last summer's white nationalist rallies and give people the opportunity to talk about race in their everyday life.

Dr. Kenneth V. Hardy, Ph.D led the workshop. He specializes in racial trauma and has traveled the country to teach people how to show sensitivity toward people's race and color.    

Hardy calls racism a blemish on the face of our country and instead of avoiding talking about race, he wants people to embrace the conversation. 

He says his goal is to get participants to open up and understand their own racial biases and triggers. To do this, he uses role play scenarios where participants share personal experiences.

"I think we have a tendency to talk about our experiences and negate an experience that doesn’t line up with ours.  I think part of having a critical conversation about race means having one’s own point of view but also being able to emotionally psychologically hold an opposing point of view,” Hardy said.

Workshop participants shared stories about their experiences with race in their everyday lives.

"White privilege, understanding what that means, subjugation, how people of color send to subjugate themselves to make white people feel comfortable,” stated Gene Cash Jr., the founder of the Counseling Alliance of Virginia.

Talking about race isn't easy, but it's necessary. Participants say they learned important skills to confront this difficult topic

"I have been able to step into a little more courage. Part of it is stepping into the courage of being uncomfortable and going anyway because it is that important,” said Judith Minter, a clinical social worker.

Charlottesville City Councilor Kathy Galvin says she attended the workshop because the trauma Charlottesville has experienced since last summer has deeper roots than the Unite the Right rally.

"People in power -  like city councilors, supervisors, department heads - we all need to understand where that rage is coming from and to then figure out how can we work with our community to make constructive, positive change that’s lasting,” she stated.

Hardy says if Charlottesville wants to improve race relations, people need to get to know people who are different than them.

"I think it’s really important that each of us gets out of our comfort zone and that you have a racially heterogeneous community and it’s important to get to know your neighbor, not just members of your own tribe,” he said.

Moving forward, Hardy says improvements to race relations in Charlottesville rely on people embracing each others differences.

More than 150 people attended Thursday’s workshop.

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