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Challenging Perceptions: Discussion Series On Systemic Racism

Progress and Promises title screen
(Image: VPM)

About | Season 2


"With this work, you're always unpacking…unpacking these different issues that are in your face. But I think where we stay most powerful and influential, is when we couple that with a solution to help move us forward."

-Adrienne Cole Johnson

We encourage you to continue discussing the issues addressed in the series. Reflect on how you and individuals from your community and inner circles are dealing with and healing from the effects of systemic racism with the following discussion guide tips:


VPM launched Racism: Challenging Perceptions in 2020 to explore the social, cultural and economic impact of racism on our community. Through conversations with local experts and leaders, we look at the disparities racism creates within our systems including: education, wealth building and housing. We encourage participants to use the information from the series to have authentic and informed dialogue with family members and friends on race and racism.

Our second installment of Challenging Perceptions examines the progress and promises toward dismantling historic racist systems. These discussions will continue to explore community initiatives and efforts to create a more equitable world. Each discussion is hosted on Zoom and recorded for later release on VPM platforms. Participate in the discussion online on the VPM Facebook and Twitter pages.

AdrienneModerator Adrienne Cole Johnson is a group facilitator, mediator, and community engagement expert. With deep experience in building movements in the non-profit, education, political and entrepreneurship sectors, she has centered her efforts around creative approaches and equitable engagement.

Her academic training and background in macro-level social work keeps a connection to the wider context as she engages on resolving the toughest human challenges.

Having served as a Chief of Staff in Congress, and led community-based programs for groups ranging from 500 to 50,000 people, Adrienne’s ability to listen, connect and empathize across traditional barriers makes her a remarkable facilitator and conflict resolution expert.

Whether she’s moderating panels on socio-economic change or facilitating discussions around the toughest social issues, or guiding leaders on mental and emotional health, Adrienne ensures voices are heard and issues are moved forward. (Photo: Kimie James)

Season 2

Episode 4: Creating Equitable Education Systems
The education of youth and young children is a vital component of dismantling racism. Hear about strategies that schools are developing to address systemic racism and serve our students equitably.

The Panelists

Shadae Harris

Dr. Shadae Harris
Chief Engagement Officer, Richmond Public Schools

In her role as Richmond Public Schools Chief Engagement Officer Dr. Shadae Thomas Harris focuses on building authentic relationships with families and community partners. She has spent her career working towards educational equity for all students, especially communities of color and those who have been underserved.

Dr. Harris completed her Doctorate of Education Leadership at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and had collaborated with Richmond Public Schools (RPS), Virginia’s Department of Juvenile Justice, and the Virginia Governor's Children’s Cabinet to implement policy and program improvements for RPS students whose education has been interrupted due to a court charge.

Dr. Harris earned a Bachelor’s in Education and Child Study from Smith College and holds a Master’s in Education from Harvard University. She served as an elementary school principal and began her career as a 4th grade teacher.

(Photo: Caleb Keiter)

Tomika Ferguson

Dr. Tomika Ferguson
University Administrator and Professor, VCU

Dr. Ferguson’s research centers on the intersection of race, gender, sport, and educational equity, with a focus on the professional development of P-16 leaders regarding inclusive, equity, and antiracist praxis.

At Virginia Commonwealth University, Dr. Ferguson serves as the assistant dean for student affairs and inclusive excellence at the School of Education and an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership. Previously, at James Madison University, she was the director of noncredit programs and community partnerships in Outreach & Engagement and an instructor for the College of Education.

Dr. Ferguson is the founder of the Black Athlete Sister Circle, a holistic development program for Black women student-athletes. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia in American studies and African-American and African studies, and her master’s and doctoral degrees from Indiana University – Bloomington.

(Photo: Owen Wachter)


Season 1
Conversations from four virtual panel discussions were recorded and edited for broadcast. Produced by VPM and co-sponsored by The Community Foundation for a Greater Richmond and the Richmond Night Market.