Local leaders fighting to eliminate another epidemic — racism

COVID-19 Is not the only pandemic we are facing in the U.S. right now. Local organizations are fighting to eliminate racism and keep the conversation at the forefront. 

A diverse panel came together with one goal. 

"To address the systems and systemic racism that occurred," said Shanee Jenkins, vice president of social responsibility, YMCA Metropolitan Milwaukee.

The YWCA Southeast Wisconsin and YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee brought community, government and clinical leaders to the table, sharing perspectives and initiatives during the 15th annual action-oriented Stand Against Racism campaign

"The national theme was racism is a public health crisis," said Paula Phillips, senior director of race and gender equity, YWCA Southeastern Wisconsin.

Years of growing partnerships and awareness have been aimed at helping to eliminate it. 

Stand Against Racism 2021

"Understanding racism not as violence, not as hate, not as discrimination, but as a power structure," said Jeff Roman, director of the Milwaukee County Office on African American Affairs.

The conversation involved breaking down the impacts.

"COVID-19 has demonstrated or really exposed the public health issues that we’ve had," said Smriti Khare, president of Children's Wisconsin primary care.

In addition to supporting preventative care and access to health care, change in the future is the continued work of this panel.

"The more we tangibly invest in not only building the capacity of leaders and organizations of color, but elevating and centering the voices of living experiences in decision-making, the better we are of dismantling the concept of racism and this hierarchy and of power," Roman said.

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"We are seeing from the federal government, from the American Rescue Plan, we need communities to be a part of how that money is being distributed and how it’s being utilized," Phillips said.

Individual accountability has been called upon in order to help achieve equity. 

"To have nearly 200 people participate in this discussion really demonstrates to us that people are listening; that they are eager," Jenkins said.

As the event organized community advocates to support state policies and address equity, the community is also being tasked with engaging in the movement. 

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