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Erasing the Color Line in NH to Move Forward Together
Published Tuesday, January 2, 2018

“When it’s better for everyone, it’s better for everyone.”? To start, we must stop thinking that talking about race or acknowledging race will lead to the negative consequences such as those we witnessed in Virginia.

The institutions that make up the University System of NH have a variety of individuals whose academic work can help facilitate the discussion. The innovative work of Robin DeRosa at Plymouth State University with Open Pedagogy has great potential for driving the process we could use to make this type of discussion and information sharing accessible to a range of individuals. "Open Pedagogy emphasizes the use of digital tools for collaboration, connection and community," says Karen Cangialosi, a Keene State College professor. "An open pedagogical approach can involve building respectful spaces online that allow for a guided open dialogue about race."

The work of Henry Knight and James Waller at Keene State College through the Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies and our related academic program could serve as the foundation to help us understand the historical factors informing our current realities of race. A book by Jason Sokol with University of NH, titled “All Eyes are Upon Us: Race and Politics from Boston to Brooklyn,” could help us understand how race has manifested in the Northeast.

The work of those in academic settings can be connected with the work of Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail leaders Valerie Cunningham and JerriAnne Boggis to help us engage in that action-oriented analysis of race specific to NH. We have what it takes to be a national leader in this deconstructing and re-visioning effort. Institutions of higher learning cannot rely primarily on enrollment of “white” students to fill seats. Businesses will suffer greatly if we, in higher education, are not able to produce enough people to keep up with the competitive demands of industry, and if we limit our ability to attract a broad pool of students who bring great talent to our state. If these businesses cannot maintain that edge, they will not remain in the state and this will, no doubt, have an impact on NH’s capacity to remain vital, viable and relevant.

The discussion of race has to take place in order for us to adequately resolve this crisis.

Dottie R. Morris is associate vice president for institutional equity and diversity at Keene State College in Keene. She can be reached at or 603-358-2206. For more information, visit

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