The founder of Building Bridges Institute for Racial Reconciliation (BBI4RR), Carol Caffee, grew up in Tuscaloosa, AL from age 13 to 33 and claims it as her home. After many adventures in several states over the past forty years, she retired and came back to her family farm in 2012. She had been involved in Race relations her entire life and continued that involvement in Tuscaloosa. She was pleased to be involved in initiatives including Tuscaloosa United, 10-4 Corporation, Civil Rights Task Force Reconciliation Circles, and Race Relations at Forest Lake United Methodist Church. Her friendships and connections in Tuscaloosa enabled her to dialogue, learn, and speak on panels to address issues of racism. These initiatives are wonderful in what they have achieved; however, Carol felt there was a need for an organization to focus on understanding what this racism is all about and how to dialogue and work together to create unity of purpose.
Many white people have shared that they don’t understand racism, or that they do understand but are unsure of what to do to end it. Still others believe that they already understand but are unsure of why it continues. Carol has received excellent training in multiple states concerning these very concerns and issues. She has dedicated her time and resources to create an institute that will provide common terminology and in-depth conversation to fully develop understanding of racism, from multiple racialized perspectives, including that of Black and white people. There has been substantial talk, shared ideas, and events to work on reconciliation. However, what is needed is a methodical approach that effects real change and includes all the citizens of Tuscaloosa in a common direction. Racism has been constructed and sustained for over four hundred years, and it cannot be easily eliminated quickly, unfortunately. It requires personal exploration and group dialogue to fully understand its subtle and overt characteristics. Dismantling racism requires a safe place for all interested groups to unite and support one other in mutual and specific goals. Dialogue without understanding leaves resentment and confusion, and short spurts of action leave people thinking nothing will ever change. It is hard work to eliminate barriers and develop sustainable, concrete tasks to create reconciliation. Carol's vision of working to dismantle racism included creating a long-term program in Tuscaloosa.
Building Bridges Institute for Racial Reconciliation (BBI4RR) is that program. BBI4RR was formed as a non -profit in 2019, to fulfill this vision of a sustaining movement for change. Carol incorporated the two organizations where she has trained: Equity Institute in Durham, NC (formerly known as Understanding Racism) and The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond in New Orleans, LA.
Carol recruited a group of incredible people, who have aligned with this vision and serve on BBI4RR's Board of Directors. They have received training from the People’s Institute, or have their own expertise in this area. We are poised to begin.