Members of Rochester community to take part in 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge

Local News

ROCHESTER (WROC) — On Friday, many residents in the Rochester community will begin a three-week course to learn about racism, and how we can all strive to get closer to racial equality.

For those enrolled, it will just be an email each day, filled with a reading or a video and some reflective questions. The challenge is hosted by United Way.

The topics of discussion involve insights into communities of color, including Black, Latino and Asian. Participants learn about forms of discrimination or microaggressions these communities may face.

The Racial Equity Justice Initiative is a partner in the challenge. Sasha Mitchell, programming director with the initiative said she feels like a light bulb has gone off, nationally. “In the workplace, there are many conversations being had around race, equity and justice, but people may not have the tools to have the conversations effectively,” she said.

That’s why she said this challenge is “on time,” to give people the freedom to start doing the introspective work. Mitchell said she hopes this program brings awareness to the areas where work needs to be done in the community, involving education and mental health.

“If we are able to educate better, if more citizens are able to contribute to these communities, we can uplift a lot of poverty we see plaguing black neighborhoods … I want to see education improved, mental health services and resources in this community,” she said.

Mitchell cited the incident of Daniel Prude as something sparking conversation. “It’s an awakening that Rochester is not as progressive as we think we are,” she said.

Ibero American Action League is another partner with the program. Julio Saenz with the program said given recent world events, racial equity is something on people’s minds, and they want to know how to help.

“This challenge is an easy way for people to start, get involved, be conscious of some of the issues and disparities other people are facing,” he said. Saenz said it may not happen in 21 days, but it’s a start.

“Hopefully we enlist several thousand people to become more educated, understand better, have different perspectives they didn’t have before. That’s what we hope to accomplish in 21 days,” he said.

Employees here at News 8 are also taking part in the program.

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