Post by Kathryn Liss, co-chair of the Stand Against Racism Coalition:
I am very excited about this year’s Asheville Stand Against Racism. We have an active community-wide coalition which plans the events (see a list of members here). In our planning this year, we heard from several local African American leaders in our coalition that the most important issue for people of color in our community is economic justice.
As we discussed this, we found that lack of satisfying employment is the key issue in our having such a small middle class within the Black and Latino communities. Although there is significant hiring at the entry level, people of color do not get the mentoring and support they need to be able to advance. Instead, Asheville institutions tend to hire from outside the community for mid and upper level positions. People of color move here to take those middle class jobs and find that they have a limited community of people similar to themselves. We need to retain, promote and mentor people who already have friends and family in the community so that they have reason to stay here even when they have significantly improved their credentials and job status. This will also become a community of peers that others from the outside can join.
Thus, we are delighted that Buncombe County and the City of Asheville partnered with UNC Asheville to bring Robert Livingston to Asheville to present the “Realizing the Benefits of a Diverse & Inclusive Workforce” conference this Thursday, April 25. Robert Livingston is a diversity researcher whose research examines how physical appearance and non-conscious processes influence stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination. He is also interested in the topic of diversity in leadership. Specifically, he investigates the unique challenges confronting women and minorities in upper management, as well as the conscious and non-conscious processes underlying leader selection. Along with his speech, there will be a variety of presenters from the community to provide a marketplace of short breakout sessions which will allow the 240 people from 50 local organizations to learn more about welcoming diversity and inclusion into their workplaces.
Find out about other Stand Against Racism events happening this weekend and next week at www.ywcastand.org.