Jan. 30, 2023 -- Last week the Park District of Oak Park released its upcoming 2023 Summer Camp Guide and included in the programming is a weeklong activity previously entitled “The Transatlantic Slave Trade.” It is designed as a cooking and history class to “investigate the history and flavors of the transatlantic slave trade.”
The impact of this programming, its original title, and course description is significant. In the days since the class was announced, community members and stakeholders throughout Oak Park have expressed the hurt that they have felt by what has been perceived by many as shocking, insensitive, and missing the mark. The Village of Oak Park, though it has no jurisdiction over the camp offering, has heard from many of the community members and deeply acknowledges the frustration and disappointment.
Any program that lacks thoughtful intentionality can undermine the advances in diversity, equity and inclusion work that is needed and is taking place across Oak Park. While this work remains in its infancy, it is clear that so much more is left to be done in the areas of community engagement, identifying resources, and collaboration among partners to bring us all to a greater destination.
The title of the class has been changed by the Park District of Oak Park and the mention of transatlantic slavery has been removed. That is only a first step and we know that more work must be done so that our entire community can feel included and embraced at all times. The Village of Oak Park will continue to be a leader in this space and collaborate with the Park District of Oak Park and all of its partners throughout the community to remain vigilant in our DEI work as we grow and improve together.