Story by Larissa Wurm
Michele Norris, a host and special correspondent for NPR, will be visiting campus on Wednesday to discuss her memoir, ‘The Grace of Silence,’ and The Race Card Project.
Norris, after working in radio since 2002, decided to take her investigative and interviewing skills to examine her own family history.
The Race Card Project started in 2010 after her memoir was published.
“I wanted to look into my family legacy that I didn’t know growing up,” Norris said in a telephone interview. “I learned more family secrets and more about America’s complex racial history.”
The memoir was inspired by the stories she heard during her journalism career.
“I’ve always been a strong proponent in looking for stories,” Norris said.
“There’s a lot of interesting conversation to be had that you can’t necessarily get in the studio and on the air,” Norris said. “We can learn about family challenges, disappointments and triumphs.”
Norris developed her lecture and The Race Card Project in response to her memoir because she knew on her book tour, she would be engaging in a conversation about race.
“I want to make it easier to think about the topic,” Norris said. “This will take a difficult subject and make it a more approachable conversation. The Race Card Project makes a space to talk about race.”
Norris said when Americans typically think about race, it is thought of as a binary idea.
“We think of it as a white and black America, but it’s broader than that,” Norris said. “It’s Latinos, Native Americans, white Americans, even redheads. They all have a story, too.”
What’s difficult about the conversation about race, Norris said, is it’s difficult to reframe constructions.
“We can learn something if we can learn to stay at the table for those really difficult conversations,” Norris said. “If we can find a way to do that, these conversations might just be able to be productive.”
The Race Card Project’s website encourages people to create their own “race card” in only six words to start a conversation about race: experiences, questions, observations and more.
Some stories featured on the site say phrases like “Yellow: neither white nor black enough,” “I’m white, so it’s my fault?” and, “Feeling guilty for my ivory privilege.”
More explanation can be included later in the creation of your own race card.
In her journalism career, Norris said it’s been difficult to find balance between her career and home.
“One difficulty in journalism is finding the full story,” Norris said. “Often, there is more than just two sides of the story.”
Norris, one of the most “trusted” and “respected voices in journalism,” will present her lecture Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in Sheslow Auditorium.