Events continue in Asheville this week with the aim of raising awareness about racism.
Organized by YWCA groups across the country, Stand Against Racism has brought together several local organizations with the ultimate goal of eliminating racism and celebrating the richness of diversity. Happening across Asheville since April 22, the series of events has taken a variety of forms, from speakers and roundtable discussions to concerts and documentary screenings.
It culminates May 2 at the YWCA Black & White Gala, a fundraiser that features a night of dancing to local band Westsound, a silent auction, and food.
A highlight so far was the April 25 conference on "Realizing the benefits of a diverse and inclusive workforce," reports Ami Worthen, YWCA of Asheville Director of Communications. That event brought together over 200 representatives from local businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies to investigate the challenges confronting women and minorities in upper management, as well as the processes underlying leader selection.
Headlined by Dr. Robert Livingston, a renowned researcher on diversity issues, "the conference exceeded expectations," says Worthen. Participating organizations will now try to take concrete steps to increase diversity in the workplace, and will report results over the next several months, according to Worthen.
Another attention-getting event occurred April 26, as hundreds of students from Isaac Dickson Elementary school took to the streets of downtown. Chanting "people united, we'll never be divided," the kids eventually gathered at Pack Square Park for a round of speeches and songs.
Despite ongoing challenges, Worthen says that collectively, the events have been inspiring.
"Racism is a hard thing to talk about," she notes. "But it's not going to go away if we ignore it."
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