By Beth Tallon, Public Relations Director
YWCA Rock County
Each year on April 26, community organizations nationwide celebrate Stand Against Racism. Locally, both Janesville and Beloit City Councils have passed resolutions proclaiming Stand Against Racism Day in Rock County. This year, the YWCA USA asked its local organizations: “What will it take to create a community that is free of racism in all forms?”
While census figures show that roughly 36% of Beloit residents identify themselves as a minority, and Janesville’s minority population has doubled in the last decade, the biggest challenge in the Rock County community is that most of us do not know many people of color personally.
I’ve had coworkers who refer to minorities as “those people.” However, when there is a one-on-one relationship built, respect grows and racism diminishes.
Completely eliminating racism in all forms might not be possible, but we can work toward dismantling racism one piece at a time. Small, everyday actions can grow into social change. Our Immigrant Outreach Program Director, Crusita Barrios, poses an interesting analogy: “Think of the automatic deductions that are a part of each paycheck. The deductions don’t seem that noticeable, until you report your income taxes and you realize how much they add up.”
If we stand up for diversity, and stand against racism, in small ways, everyday, it will also add up. For example, if someone you know starts complaining about how “illegal aliens are taking all our jobs,” will you stay silent? Or could you use that as a springboard for conversation?
Rock County is home to several groups like the Diversity Action Team (DAT). Member Jeanne Carfora says that the team is focused on eliminating racism and creating an inclusive community. An example of one of our DAT spring groups is called Courageous Conversations, which is an in-depth book study group that deals honestly with racism. YWCA Rock County also hosts racial justice workshops, and invites community members to join the YWCA Racial Justice Committee. Our county also has other study groups, which learn the pain of racism and how we can respond together to create a better community.
But you don’t need to join groups to be part of the solution. Speak up and stand up against racism.
Beth Tallon is the Public Relations Director for YWCA Rock County, Wisconsin. Tallon also edits a community non-profit blog on the Janesville Gazette’s website, found at gazettextra.com. YWCA Rock County’s racial justice activities include an Immigrant Outreach Program, workshops, and advocacy. For more information, please visit ywcarockcounty.org.
This post is part of the YWCA USA Stand Against Racism blog carnival on issues of race, justice and diversity. We invite you to join the dialogue! Post your comment below, share your story and follow the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #StandAgainstRacism.