A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Advancing Equality: Can we talk? Stand united to advance racial equity and break down barriers

Part of a series by NKY’s nonprofits who stand together against racism and any acts that dehumanize people.

Can We Talk?

We stand united to advance racial equity this statement drives the discussions of our group of Northern Kentucky nonprofits seeking to ensure social justice. This group, comprised of more than 25 nonprofit agencies based in Campbell, Kenton, and Boone Counties, has been meeting regularly for the last three months to continue the important conversation pertaining to racism and equity, and move to action to remove the racial inequities in our community and our systems (such as education, health care, housing, and criminal justice).

The group gained a renewed sense of urgency after the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers in May. Witnessing Jacob Blake being shot 7 times in the back in the presence of Blake’s 3 young sons, leaves us once again heartbroken, not to mention concerned for the trauma experienced by the 8-, 5-, and 3-year-olds who witnessed this act of violence.

Many of the agencies in our group have written articles over the past weeks about our organizations’ responses to the turmoil that has persisted over three months and calls to the Northern Kentucky community for action. As our group meets, we share the challenges of providing adequate services to the populations served by our nonprofits, many of whom suffer from racial disparities in all areas of their lives. We also share resources that not only benefit the families we serve, but also help us, the leaders of these organizations, to gain deeper understanding of the source of the inequities. We’d like to share some of what we’ve learned.

Several of our members have reached out to our local police departments, elected officials, and community leaders to invite them to conversations about the criminal justice system, and health and housing disparities for communities of color. We are encouraged by the response. We have also contacted the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, another ally in the battle to increase diversity in our local leadership. Our goal is to develop a sense of transparency between our elected officials and public servants, and the members of our communities. Open and honest communication is the first step toward trust.

Some of us have read books that address racism, implicit bias, and white privilege. We share what we have learned and offer the resources to our members. We are also inviting our agency board members to join us on the journey to create equitable policies and organizational cultures. As a coalition, we will read the book White Fragility together and discuss key learnings.

We talked with Ellen Katz, President/CEO of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF) about the potential for their organizing a session of “Groundwater,” a half-day session developed by the Racial Equity Institute, just for Northern Kentucky organizations and businesses. We will be following up on that conversation.

In addition, Ellen shared with our group the very intentional journey they have been on for the past five years toward creating an equitable organization. She reminded our group that pursuing racial equity takes time and dedicated attention, which when sustained, creates the authenticity necessary to achieve real change.

Several of our members have reached out to consultants with expertise in diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. Learning Grove and Brighton Center have contracted with consultants to help their leadership teams work to create more equitable and diverse organizational cultures. Others have attended conferences with local and national consultants on these important issues, including sessions conducted by the Kentucky Nonprofit Network.

The more we learn, the better equipped we will be to break down the barriers that prevent many of our citizens and clients from thriving.

We will continue to meet, share what we’ve learned with one another, and continue the fight for social justice. We will also continue to encourage the boards of our organizations to not only support our efforts but to use their voices and influence to create the needed change. So far more than 25 nonprofits have joined our group. We invite others to join us to amplify the voices of Northern Kentucky’s nonprofits who want to see social change.

We encourage you to reach out to some of our members:

Christy Burch, Women’s Crisis Center christyb@wccky.org
Catrena Bowman-Thomas, NKCAC cbowman-thomas@nkcac.org
Shannon Starkey Taylor, Learning Grove sstarkeytaylor@learning-grove.org
Tammy Weidinger, Brighton Center TWeidinger@brightoncenter.org
Danielle Amrine, Welcome House damrine@welcomehouseky.org

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