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Welcoming Communities: Racism self-evaluation

The Welcoming Communities Project of New Ulm, Sleepy Eye, and Springfield is continuing to meet via ZOOM. In our last article for The Journal, we discussed the definition of racism, types of racism, and how our understanding of racism affects community relationships and interactions. Now that we are beginning to understand racism and how it impacts our community, where do we go from here?

First, it’s important to consider that some people want change right away and are willing to do the work to actively challenge racism. For others, they may feel afraid to challenge racism. They may not want to say or do something that might make them feel uncomfortable. Either way as a community, it is time to examine “who we are” using a personal lens so that we can determine “what we are.” Our goal is to engage with people with respect while acknowledging human dignity and fairness for all. A welcoming attitude determines whether our community grows and thrives. By doing a racism self-evaluation, we can become more informed, and ultimately better persons. This can be a “win-win” situation at a personal level, and at the community level.

Let’s take a look at a model by Andrew M Ibrahim, MD, MSc. to find out where we are.

Fear Zone:

I deny racism is a problem.

I avoid hard questions.

I strive to be comfortable.

I talk to others who look and think like me.

Learning Zone

I recognize racism is a present and current problem.

I seek out questions that make me feel uncomfortable.

I understand my own privilege in ignoring racism.

I educate myself about race and structural racism.

I am vulnerable about my own biases and knowledge gaps.

I listen to others who think and look differently than me.

Growth Zone

I identify how I may unknowingly benefit from racism.

I promote and advocate for policies and leaders that are anti-racist.

I sit with my discomfort.

I speak out when I see racism in action.

I educate my peers how racism harms our profession.

I don’t let mistakes deter me from being better.

I yield positions of power to those otherwise marginalized.

I surround myself with others who think and look differently than me.

In order to continue to evolve, eventually even finding a deep sense of meaning in our own lives, we need to start by being straight about ourselves, keeping us accountable for our attitudes and actions toward all individuals in our community. We want a resilient community that works together for the greater good of all. The Welcoming Communities Project of New Ulm will be creating a vision, mission and goals to complete tangible actions that will be based on the prioritized needs of our community. Our hope is to balance tension on change with our community’s comfort with change by building a more welcoming space for diverse members of our community. We are in this together so let’s begin with actions that unite us.

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