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In This Place

"The Cape Cod Camino Way," Walking Cape Cod to Learn About Racism

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Peggy Jablonski
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A Brewster woman is setting out today on the first of a series of walks around the Cape.

Peggy Jablonski isn't walking for fitness, or to enjoy the Cape's gorgeous scenery. She's walking to learn more about racism on the Cape and about her own whiteness.

WCAI's Kathryn Eident talked with Jablonski to learn more about why she's started what she calls the Cape Cod Camino Way.

Jablonski I've always wanted to walk the Camino way in Spain, which is a ancient pilgrimage route through Spain, and hundreds of thousands of people do that every year. And so, as I was walking on the bike path, and reflecting on the issues of racial and social justice in this country, I decided that I could use this time to walk and touch every single town on Cape Cod and better understand what the issues of race and social justice are right here on the peninsula.

Eident How will you connect with people on these walks, especially Black and Brown people across the Cape?

Jablonski So, what I've done is look at some themes around race and social justice that connect particularly to Cape Cod. So, if I want to connect with Black [and] Indigenous people of color around issues of economics, the environment, health care, poverty, homelessness, etc, LGBTQ rights, and so I've mapped out a series of eight walks every Wednesday between 10 and 15 miles. And, I will weave in interviews with people at each of these sites or just people of significance on the Cape who connect with these issues.

Eident Can you tell me a little bit more about what you've been reflecting on in the past few weeks since the death of George Floyd sparked protests and a renewed surge in the Black Lives Matter movement?

Jablonski I've been doing a lot of my own work. I was part of a white accountability group that read the book White Fragility last winter and trying to weave in those aspects around privilege that I needed to take a much more deeper dive into. You know, when all the killings became more prominent with George Floyd, it really caused me to feel like I need to do something, but I'm not exactly sure what to do as a white person.

So, I did go to one of the marches in Orleans. I did join two different whites accountability groups. And then, the idea emerged around pausing, reflecting and doing more of a walk that can help inform what action I need to take--and maybe others can take. Because part of this also is every Saturday morning we'll do a coffee hour where we talk about what did we learn and what are we going to do now?

Eident What are you most excited about in anticipating this series of walks and discussions?

Jablonski Well, I'm very excited about learning more about the issues right here on Cape Cod. I have heard some folks say, "Well, we don't really have those issues here," or "That's in the past." So, I want to be able to bring forward some possible commitments.

I'm also really excited to walk with people I know and people I don't know, and in particular members of my family. I'm in a multiracial family and we've had many serious discussions.

Eident Do you think that you will find or learn more about ways in which we need to change the system—not just our own behaviors—but change the larger institutions that we rely on or that governance?

Jablonski Yes, all of our systems, they all need to shift. They all need to change. Many of them radically.

Eident Anything else you would want listeners to know as you reflect on your whiteness and racism and what might need to happen on the Cape?

Jablonski I think it's important for us who are white and that have privilege to really think about how can we step back right now and listen to other voices to notice what people are facing. To do our own work around, what are we lacking in knowledge and compassion and reflect about, "What can I do in this time?"

Eident Peggy, I wish you luck on your walks. And, thank you so much for talking about what your plans are.

Jablonski Thank you so much, Kathryn. Take care.

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Jablonski has a Facebook page about her journey. You can find it here.