This is a press release from Bloomfield Township. Press releases are official statements that have not been independently verified.

The township will hold an additional community conversation on race next Wednesday at 7:00pm via Zoom following last month’s conversation which focused on the social construction of race and its real life implications.

Associate Professor for the Sociology Department at William Paterson University Wendy Christensen, Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Clara Maass Medical Center Desyra Highsmith Holcomb and Co-Chair/Director of Equity and Education for the Visions and Dreams Foundation Joseph Graham Jr will be the guest speakers. Councilwomen Dr. Wartyna Davis and Jenny Mundell will moderate the conversation.

“Each community conversation on race has gotten us closer to our goal of understanding the issues affecting our residents of color and what we can do to improve,” said Mayor Venezia. “We will continue to have these community meetings as long as they continue to be productive and informative. I encourage all members of the community to join us on Wednesday.”

To join the Zoom meeting go to: pwd=ZEpwdlNuZENGTHJuZCsweXBsVUtCQT09 and enter Meeting ID: 860 9098 2309 Passcode: 090007 or call 1 646 558 8656 and enter Meeting ID: 860 9098 2309 Passcode: 090007.

During the first part of the conversation on September 2, participants will be invited to share their commitments and experiences. This will be followed by a conversation led by the guest speakers, exploring bias and inequality in various spheres of our life (work, schools, housing,
healthcare, etc.) and will wrap up with suggestions for further exploration and action.

This is a follow up community conversation building on the July 29 event, “Let’s Talk About Race” with Dr. Christensen and Ms. Highsmith-Holcomb, during which community members were invited to commit to participating in an anti-racist, anti-biased activity or engage with one of the community conversation resources here:

Participation in the previous meeting is not required to attend this meeting. The July 29 conversation, “Let’s Talk About Race,” can be viewed here:

Wendy M. Christensen is an Associate Professor in the Sociology Department at William Paterson University in New Jersey. Originally from Maine, she received her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 2010. Her research focuses on how political discourse and participation is shaped by social inequalities. Her book, “Mothers of the Military: Support and Politics During Wartime,” was published by Rowman & Littlefield Press (2018). At WPUNJ she teaches courses on social movements, social inequality, theory, war and media. She is active in efforts on campus to empower students to political activism, and involved in local community organizing and social movements.

Desyra Highsmith Holcomb is the Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Clara Maass Medical Center in Belleville, New Jersey an affiliate of RWJBarnabas Health, where she pursues an inclusive and compassionate culture for patients, employees and the community. Highsmith Holcomb previously worked at William Paterson University where she held various
roles. She helped develop and execute initiatives which advanced the culture of that University and recruited a diverse staff. Additionally in her time there she led efforts to increase awareness for issues having to do with discrimination, equal opportunity, diversity and inclusion.

Joseph Graham, Jr. is the Co-Chair/Director of Equity and Education for the Visions and Dreams Foundation. He has been a leader in Equity, Diversity and Inclusion work for over 25 years. He is instrumental in providing Equity, Diversity & Inclusion support to counties in the areas of K12 education, Higher education, Criminal Justice, Corporations, Healthcare, Social service agencies, Nonprofit organizations and others. Joseph Graham Jr. specializes in identifying inequities and providing Professional Development, workshops, short-term and long term plans as a part of tailor-made strategies and methods to accomplish the designated goals.