Here is a report from YWCA Volunteer Kathyrn Liss about the Stand Against Racism Diversity Fair at the YMI:
Friday April 29, 2011 was Stand Against Racism day sponsored by the YWCA. There was a daylong event at the YMI, the oldest African American cultural center in the U.S. In the large auditorium, there were ten organizations with tables sharing information about the work they do every day to eliminate racism. Of course, the YW as the sponsoring organization was there along with the Center for Diversity Education, the Minority Business office of the City of Asheville, Asheville Buncombe Institute for Parity Achievement (ABIPA), Christians for a United Community, Nuestro Centro, Western North Carolina Citizens For An End To Institutional Bigotry, Asheville Buncombe Community Relations Council, Building Bridges, and the ACLU.
There were a series of films and talks beginning with a film shown by Michael Carter from Mission Hospital. This film helped us to remember that racism is still with us. Starting with the definition of racism as prejudice plus power, it investigated the areas where things have become better since the civil rights era and where they have not. After that, the Christians for a United Community brought people together in a discussion of how to dismantle racism. Looking at the issue from a Christian perspective, participants joined in an animated conversation with leaders from a variety of denominations.
Deborah Miles from the Center for Diversity Education led an insightful presentation about ways that any organization can become more inclusive. Using examples from many different ways of looking at diversity, she brought up issues from whether the space is welcoming to who is on our mailing lists and from which vendors we buy the products and services needed to keep our businesses running. Finally there were two more videos, one on white privilege and another on health disparities.
Visitors ranged from students at Randolph Learning Center to elected officials. People came by just to look over thetables and others stayed to engage in lively discussion. People signed up to participate in future activities of one group or another, or just came away better informed about the many opportunities there are in our community to be intentional with regard to those with whom we associate.