Community groups again speak out against racism
We keep speaking out for respect. We need action to change the climate of prejudice in the community and country.
Three recent incidents stirred the NAACP Spokane to prepare a statement.
They call for resources to underwrite training on societal bias and cultural awareness, for implementing racial equity tool kits and outcome measures, and for establishing an Office of Civil Rights and restorative accountability for institutions.
The incidents were 1) a rock thrown through a window of the home of two employees of Jewel's Helping Hands, which is operating the city's new homeless shelter, 2) racist fliers distributed at Morning Star Baptist Church and 3) disruption during a local celebration of Dia de los Muertos.
The NAACP Spokane issued a statement challenging racial hatred, cultural bias and white supremacist extremism. It gathered signatures of more than 32 community leaders and organizations.
They challenge attitudes about the state of racism and prejudice in the region. Along with the "macro" large-scale aggressions, communities of color experience "micro" aggressions on a daily basis." That's in racial disparities throughout society—business, housing, schools, higher education, jury selection, sentencing, incarceration and reentry, living wages, health outcomes and life expectancy—that embody systemic, historic racism.
The statement points to dysfunctional undercurrents that have existed since the country's inception and are pervasive today.
It calls the community to address white superiority mindsets by providing prevention education and restorative consequences and to address underlying societal issues that continue to foster inequities.
Kurtis Robinson, president of the Spokane NAACP said dialogue is underway to develop specifics for action, particularly working to establish a Spokane Office for Civil Rights. He said that would provide rapid response to incidents, gather facts in a reasonable time, and establish sustainable, measurable, restorative outcomes.
The NAACP Spokane is gathering people with expertise to overcome hate, fear, bias, threats and violence arising from cultural, racial, ethnic, religious and economic diversity. Our diversity should be a cause for celebration, not division.
On Nov. 21, First Presbyterian's Biblical Justice Forum had Pastor Walter Kendricks of Morning Star, Kristine Hoover of Gonzaga's Hate Studies and former representative John Smith discuss, "Responding to White Supremacy," exploring how faith communities can stand with affected communities, and overcome hate and bias.
Faith communities have a role in teaching love, educating groups, modeling inclusion, organizing rallies, making statements and advocating justice.
The Fig Tree is committed to report on the varied avenues for change—personal relationships, educational events, programmatic response, protest opportunities and legal/systemic challenges.
We add to the mix a call for media literacy and responsible media coverage. What does that look like?
• Media literacy means media consumers need to be informed of propaganda tactics, how definitions of "news" and presenting "both sides" may produce reports that promote hate, divisions and bias. Definitions may include sensationalism that exacerbates divisions, because conflict "sells."
• Media responsibility involves media as part of the process of restorative solutions, such as covering multiple perspectives, not "either/or," and covering the impact of everyday, unspoken bias, and celebrating how diversity enriches the community.
We'll join in the process with our coverage and our ongoing challenges.
Mary Stamp - editor
Copyright@ The Fig Tree, December, 2019