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Stand Against Racism Community-wide Event at A-B Tech
June 2, 2014
On Monday, April 28, A-B Tech Community College hosted a community-wide event in partnership with the YWCA to support the YWCA’s national campaign, Stand Against Racism. The purpose of the campaign is to raise awareness that racism still exists and can no longer be ignored or tolerated. At A-B Tech’s event, more than 120 people attended activities. Activities included a community update, a panel discussion, two concurrent sessions, and a closing. UNC Asheville, MAHEC, and the City of Asheville sponsored the event. In addition to YWCA and A-B Tech staff, community members, A-B Tech students and other employees volunteered to support the event.
To promote the event, James Lee, A-B Tech’s Workforce Outreach Coordinator, hosted YWCA’s Outeach Coordinator, Angel Redmond, and A-B Tech’s Training Design & Support Specialist, Page McCormick, on the No Limits radio show on WRES. Redmond emphasized, “The first step of inclusiveness is gearing conversations and trainings away from but not excluding white privilege and focusing on community empowerment, uplifting, educating, and preparing for our future.”
The focus of A-B Tech’s event was to help unemployed persons better understand what barriers they may encounter; employed persons better understand how they may influence change within their organizations; and employers and leaders to better understand how to intentionally support their minority employees, customers, students, clients, etc.
Dennis King, A-B Tech’s Interim President, started the event by saying, “We wanted to bring people of all races, classes, and states of employment together — the unemployed, under-employed and employed, as well as decision-makers who can offer employment opportunities.” The activities were designed to help participants understand how racism impacts employment and have discussions about solutions and best-practices.
King said, “The goal of this year’s event is to inspire individuals and organizations to take steps over the next year to help eliminate racism.” The College’s value of inclusiveness and its strategic plan priority, Cultivate collaborative relationships to promote and increase a culture of diversity among students, faculty, staff and community stakeholders, speak to A-B Tech’s commitment to doing this work.
Jacquelyn Hallum, MAHEC’s Director of Health Careers and Diversity Education, provided an overview of opportunities for growth within the community and Deborah Miles, the Executive Director of the Center for Diversity Education, shared what actions have been taken by the WNC Diversity Engagement Coalition (DEC) since the Stand Against Racism event held in 2013.
The panel discussion was moderated by Sarah Nuñez and included 5 panelists Althea Gonzalez, Program Manager for Hispanics in Philanthropy; Gene Bell, CEO for the Housing Authority of the City of Asheville; Beth Maczka, Executive Director of YWCA; Terry Bellamy, Executive Director of Arc of Buncombe County; and James Lee. Concurrent sessions included topics like, Social Norms in the Professional Environment; Ouch that Stereotype Hurts; and Mentoring and sponsorship.
Kaye Waugh, A-B Tech’s Vice President of Human Resources and Organizational Development, said, “Eighty-seven percent of the concurrent session presenters represented minority groups. Their involvement was key and was a way A-B Tech hoped to improve its relationships with the minority communities in Asheville.”
During the closing, presenters and participants shared highlights and ideas for how to take a stand against racism throughout the year. McCormick said, "We hoped to reach the broadest possible audience to make the event at A-B Tech high-impact. Taking a stand isn’t just about having an event, but rather working year-to-year to build an even stronger community in Asheville.”
“The common theme, heard throughout the day and following the event, was let’s do more events like this,” McCormick said. A-B Tech plans to host more programs and events in the year to come to support the Stand Against Racism.
For more information or if you have questions contact Page McCormick, Training Design and Support Specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 398-7180.