EQUITY MATTERS WORKSHOPS TO DISCUSS AND IMPROVE COMMUNITY DISPARITIES

A collage of people
THE RACE TO EQUITY REPORT, released in the fall of 2013 by the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, surprised many Dane County residents when it revealed huge racial disparities in employment, poverty, incarceration and education in the county. It also unleashed a cry for change.

The movement has been slow but steady ever since—even forums featuring the mayoral candidates have turned into discussions about the city’s racial issues and the need for answers. And recently, a slew of workshops, lectures and grants are being offered in an effort to make a difference in a measurable, meaningful way. Here’s information about five— out of the dozens—of upcoming public programs, and details on how you can get involved this year in creating a more equitable Madison.

STEP UP EQUITY MATTERS DISCUSSIONS
“We need an honest, supportive group of people who are ready to lead the way to change,” says organizer Sara Alvarado. And thus, the goal of this Sustain Dane, Latino Professionals Association and Dane Buy Local series is to start a conversation and create movement toward an equal and inclusive business community in the Madison area. Attend one or all four scheduled sessions. sustaindane.org.

BLACK LIVES MATTER SPEAKER SERIES
Education and empowerment are the driving forces behind this spring series with speakers from around the country presenting topics on racial disparities in policing, policy and politics. The Young, Gifted and Black Coalition, the local group behind recent marches and rallies protesting the policing and incarceration of young black men, hosts these gatherings on the UW campus. facebook.com/events/784429811610959.

RACIAL JUSTICE WORKSHOPS
What is this thing called race? It’s just one of the questions participants will try to answer, while discussing history and culture in resolving conflicts across racial lines. The end result: the ability to apply what you’ve learned to your own life. YWCA leaders say 96 percent of the participants from a recent workshop indicate they now recognize how their own attitudes and behaviors can contribute to, or combat, racism around them. ywcamadison.org.

COMMUNITY BUILDING AND ENGAGEMENT PROPOSAL, BUSINESS DISPARITY STUDY
For 2015, Madison Common Council has approved funding to build civic engagement in low-income neighborhoods and areas of the city where residents are underrepresented in government. Proposals are being accepted for monetary support to actively build community. cityofmadison.com/dpced/communitydevelopment/funding/.

The city’s newly released Public Works Disparity study shows more needs to be done to create a level playing field for minority and women-owned businesses in the local construction industry. Public meetings are scheduled to discuss the findings, which include suggestions like opening more contracting opportunities specifically for these types of businesses. cityofmadison.com/madisoncontractingstudy/documents.cfm.

COMBATTING RACIAL CONDITIONING LECTURE SERIES
Educating the mind and healing the heart is one part of this series being held by The Madison Wisconsin Institutes for the Healing of Racism, Inc. Professor Richard Davis will lead the weekly meetings which include required reading on topics ranging from racial injustice and education to housing. richarddavis.org.

– Teri Barr

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