There are communities committed to coming together to take real steps to improve race relations. Some have been making a concerted effort for years and continue to do so. They realize that the election of Barack Obama as the first African-American president of the United States did not suddenly bring about a post-racial society.
Matters of race, racism, discriminatory practices, racial stereotypes, racial inequities, racial injustice, and myriad of other racial inequalities are alive and well, playing out in many aspects of our lives on a daily basis. All one has to do is to take drive through or a stroll in sectors of urban and suburban areas in any major city in America.
If not a stroll or a drive, one cannot escape matters of race at play when you look at the work place (the disparities in unemployment), our education system (the achievement gap), even in our own homes as we watch the evening news.
But, thankfully, there are communities that are not content accepting or maintaining the status quo.
There are two in different parts of the country that are worth giving a great shout out! One is Tucson, Arizona, which is holding its 26th annual conference this week, June 6-8. The Racial Reconciliation Community Outreach Network, and the theme for the conference is, “The Awakening.”
Even after twenty-six years, the conference coordinator, Martha Willis, says the goal of this year’s conference is to “break down racial and prejudicial barriers between the races, to help eliminate racial tensions in our city.” Willis went on to say that an additional goal is, “to build self-esteem and to show how dysfunctional lifestyles are damaging and, by contrast, give a viable alternative.”
Go Tucson! Hosting your 26th annual conference clearly shows your understanding that good race relations requires a sustained effort, a sustained conversation.
The other city is Detroit, Michigan. The organization, New Detroit, host its 14th annual “Closing the Gap” awards program, on Tuesday, June 19, which honors an individual, a community organization and corporation whose actions have made positive changes in race relations in the region.
While this will be New Detroit’s fourteenth annual celebration, the organization has been working to improve race relations for the last 45 years. New Detroit is considered the region’s leading race relations coalition.
According to New Detroit President and CEO, Shirley Stancato, this year’s awards will go to a veteran advocate for improved race relations, a champion of higher learning that brings professional writers into classrooms, and a minority-owned automotive supplier (the nation’s third largest) with a diverse workforce of 1,500.
Stancato describes the honorees as being, “a part of that progressive generation of leaders who advocated for equality. All of this year’s honorees have played a unique role toward that goal and have demonstrated through their individual achievements what true commitment to change can achieve.”
Go New Detroit! Forty-five years, and counting, shows a remarkable commitment to race relations, and recognizing the efforts of individuals, organizations, and corporations in the greater Detroit area that have made it high priority.
Imagine what a giant step for race relations if more communities saw the importance of race relations and did something about it as Tucson and Detroit.