Elon professor leads The CoRE: a series of online community forums exploring race and equity

This is the first in a series of virtual forums that runs through Sept. 7 and will focus on race and policing. Associate Professor of English Prudence Layne organized the forums to strengthen conversation among the community, area leaders, and government officials.

In its first season, The CoRE: Conversations on Race and Equity will host seven virtual forums dedicated to race and policing through Sept. 7. The first begins at 5:30 p.m. Monday, July 27 on Zoom.

Community members of Burlington, Alamance County and beyond are invited to participate in the forums.

The CoRE: Conversations on Race and Equity was organized and will be hosted by Associate Professor of English Prudence Layne. Panelists will represent opposing and diverse viewpoints in an effort “to get to the ‘core’ of some of our community’s most pressing problems as we seek a cure that results in true equity for all citizens,” Layne wrote in a release about the series.

The first forum, “Burlington, N.C.: Divided or United?” will feature Burlington Police Chief Jeffrey Smythe, Burlington Mayor Pro Tem Kathy Hykes, Burlington City Manager Hardin Watkins, and community activists Mon Holmes and DeJuana Warren-Bigelow. Those who wish to view and participate should register online. Registration is required for each session.

Layne devised the forums in response to the series of violent killings of Black Americans this spring: the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and the ambush and killing of Ahmad Arbery in Georgia.

“In an instant, the world was jolted to the enduring realities of racism and to the amount of work that remains to end systematic racism,” Layne said of Floyd’s televised execution under the knee of a Minneapolis officer. “Even as I grappled with the emotional toll, anger, sadness, frustration, of the most recent atrocities, … friends of all hues were reaching out to ask what they needed to do. They seemed ready to engage in some of the painful conversations I have been leading in my classrooms and other spaces, over a career that spans more than twenty years.”

Among other areas and topics, Layne specializes in the teaching and research of African, African-American and Caribbean literatures, criminal justice, critical race theory, diversity and inclusion, protest movements and social justice. She regularly teaches COR 405: Prison Nation: Deconstructing the Prison Industrial Complex, which examines the causes, patterns and outcomes of the United States’ criminal justice system and its disproportionately negative effects on people of color and women.

Though difficult and exhausting, Layne said she is encouraged by current responses against racism, the strengthening of the Black Lives Matter movement, and increased desire for positive change. She hopes the forums will allow people to express themselves and underline the areas we can begin improving to address racism and inequity in our society.

Future forum topics include:

  • Aug. 3: Defund, Dismantle or Defend the Police?
  • Aug. 10: The Clash of “Black and Blue”
  • Aug. 17: Immigration
  • Aug 24: Elon (NC): Safe and Bold for Whom?
  • Aug. 31: Capping the School-to-Prison Pipeline
  • Sept. 7: The State of our Mental Health

For more information, follow The CoRE on Facebook.

Panel discussions will be shared on The CoRE’s YouTube page.