Header image of Joi McAtee.

Joi McAtee is the project manager at Lean Into Louisville. She runs a weekly book club where participants have frank conversations about race. For more details, contact Joi at Joi.McAtee@louisvilleky.gov.

She Wants to Create Racial Harmony

SPONSORED BY Lean Into Louisville

By Tiffany White | Photo by Mary Helen Nunn

For some, having candid discussions about race can be uncomfortable – especially in light of recent and pervasive racial tensions. But Joi McAtee, project manager with Lean Into Louisville, is teaching people how to start the conversation and be part of the solution in redressing racial inequities in our city. Established in 2019 under the Office of Equity of Louisville Metro Government, Lean Into Louisville is a series of activities, presentations, art exhibits and events that address and confront the history and legacy of all forms of racism and discrimination. They also connect with the LGBTQ community, and immigrant and refugee communities to address the issues affecting them.

Joi joined the organization when they relaunched the initiative in October 2021 and says bringing people of all races together to have these talks are vital in making Louisville a compassionate city. “When you think about what happened to Breonna Taylor and that tragedy…it [the initiative] has a particular focus on wanting to reach folks or to engage with individuals who are not normally involved with these discussions.” Joi says one way they are accomplishing this is through their weekly book clubs hosted on Saturdays at 11am at the Brew and Sip Coffee Bar located at 3800 Shepherdsville Road. 

Currently, the group is reading the Racial Healing Handbook and use worksheets that include questions about their experiences and perspective on race. “The questions are reflective: Has there been a time where you thought to intentionally build a diverse racial community in your life? Or if you are white, describe a time when you felt you were colorblind and when you tried not to see race.” She adds, “This is not about making folks feel guilt or shame about the color of their skin, but it is about folks gaining awareness about the racial history of America and how there are folks that benefit from it and folks who are victims of it and figuring out what we can do collectively to heal from that.” Joi says she believes these meetings are making a difference in people’s attitudes about race and is hopeful for greater change in the future. “I see Lean Into Louisville serving as a catalyst for a cultural shift, so when we educate people on the history of racism, they are empowered to act on how they can change the system for the better.”

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