Southington foundation organizes event to examine history of race in society 

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SOUTHINGTON — As a way to help the community examine the history of race and color in society, the Make it Different Foundation is organizing “What is Color? What is Race? — A Presentation of Black” at Southington Community Cultural Arts.

This event, which runs from Oct. 1 to 30, is designed to guide individuals through this examination through art, lectures and live performances. It will include historical representations and exhibits, visual art, dance, performance, spoken word and motivational speaking in SoCCA’s gallery both virtually and live. The opening reception is Oct. 1 from 5 to 7 p.m.

“I think that this event, it’s asking two very important questions that I don’t really hear a lot of people talking about or examining,” said Deborah Garner, founder/president of the Make it Different Foundation and creator of the event. “What are the true foundation and historical roots of our inheritance?” 

The event is split into four thematic weeks that Garner said are based on her experiences as a person of color. In week one, the history of race origins will be examined. Week two will focus on Black innovation and invention and week three will examine the “revelation of the soul.” The final week will be dedicated to  “Creating a Culture of Honor”

“It’s really an entirely different conversation than what I’ve heard since I’ve been a part of the Southington community and probably won’t be a very popular one,” Garner said. “There has to be individuals that are willing to be unpopular, maybe even misunderstood ... I’m willing to be that person to walk in those shoes because I realize that the concepts that we’re going to attempt to address here can be very disconcerting for a white community.”

Garner connected with SoCCA through Mary DeCroce, executive director, who has taught art to Garner’s daughter. 

“SoCCA is just hosting for Deborah,” DeCroce said. “This is Deborah’s event. This is something that she’s really passionate and inspired to do. We’re doing what we can to help her and of course giving her the space to be able to do something that’s going to be amazing in our gallery.”

SoCCA is asking artists to submit work only using the colors of black and white. However, Garner stressed that this event is not an art exhibit — art is just one way to start conversations about the issues. 

The Make It Different Foundation, created after the death of Garner’s son, Taahir “Ty” Harris, seeks to support and create opportunities for young people. Harris, 18, was killed in a 2018 car crash. 

“Our philosophy for the foundation is very simple — If you don’t like the world that you live in, make it different,” Garner said. “Making it different starts with you ... Until we can change ourselves or challenge all of the narratives and paradigms, we can't change the culture. That’s the challenge of this event. It’s information that can turn into knowledge and understanding...”

All artwork for the exhibit must be dropped off at SoCCA, 93 Main St., Sept. 28 and 29 from 12 to 5 p.m.

If you have any questions or need any other information, call 860-276-1581 or email SoCCA at

jsimms@record-journal.com203-317-2208Twitter: @jessica_simms99


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