“We wear the mask that grins and lies…”
– Paul Laurence Dunbar
Unmasking Peninsula, which convened virtually April 23 (6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.) and April 24 (2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.) is a two-part dialogue and workshop program examining race, racism, gender discrimination and how these issues impact the Peninsula community and the greater Hampton Roads region.
Unmasking Peninsula was co-created by Dr. Sarita Gregory, an associate professor in Hampton University’s School of Liberal Arts and Education and Samantha Willis, an award-winning writer, independent journalist and co-founder of The Unmasking Series.
This is the fourth Unmasking program in the state of Virginia, including the most recent Unmasking Hampton Roads (2019). The series, which Willis began in Richmond in 2016, was inspired by the poem “We Wear the Mask” by African-American writer and poet Paul Laurence Dunbar.
On April 23 (6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.) the series featured two panel sessions — one focused on race-based trauma, and the other on gender-based trauma. Two groups of leading scholars, mental health professionals and community advocates engaged in meaningful dialogue about these important topics impacting communities of color in the Peninsula and Hampton Roads region. TV Personality and Host of Coast Live April Woodard moderated these panel sessions.
Race-based Trauma Panel, April 23, 2021
Gender-based Trauma Panel:
On April 24 (2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.) the series invited attendees to put learning into action by participating in professionally-facilitated, virtual workshops, where they gained tools to understand, address and heal race/gender based trauma.
A virtual exhibition, featuring art, music, and performances by Hampton University students, Teens with a Purpose and more; rounded out the dynamic #UnmaskingPeninsula experience and was available for view via registration only, April 23 and 24, 2021 (2 p.m. to 9 p.m.). Inside the virtual exhibition, attendees had the chance to not only view the artworks on display, but to dialogue with each other about their experiences with race-based and/or gender-based trauma.
A special screening of the The HBO Max film “On the Record” – about Black women’s experiences with sexism, sexual harassment, and misogyny in the music industry – completed the virtual exhibit.
The Peninsula Community Foundation is a