NORMAL (WEEK) — The town of Normal is holding a racial equity summit at Heartland Community College this week.
The free two-day conference, the first of its kind in the town, is called “Daring Diversity.”
The Town of Normal’s website describes the summit as, “an impassioned call to action that opposes a big threat to diversity and equality: indifference. Daring is not just doing but rather doing something with a purpose, galvanizing each person to actively participate and refuse to stand idly in the face of injustice and inequity.”
Sessions include “What is Racism?” and “The New Jim Crow.”
For Illinois State University Professor Shamaine Bertrand, being asked to speak at the summit—spearheaded by Normal’s first black councilmember Chemberly Cummings—was an honor.
Bertrand focused heavily on the “call to action” portion of the summit.
“How are we now looking at racism and how can we now dismantle that? How can we move away from saying ‘it doesn’t exist’ to ‘it does exist and what are we going to do about it’,” she said.
“When you see racism happening you, as a community, have the responsibility of standing in front of it and saying ‘this is not how this is going to go down.’ That is how you begin the work of dismantling racism.”
Marianne Taylor, a guest speaker from The Immigration Project, feels having what can often be an uncomfortable conversation about race is the only way to bring about change.
“Your color, your race doesn’t determine your paycheck, doesn’t determine your value, doesn’t determine what you can bring to the table,” Taylor said. “We don’t have our little pocket anymore, the world is here and we need to know how to deal with it and how to have a better relationship with everybody that we encounter.”
Attendees were not just local residents. Anita Taylor and her husband Larry came from Champaign for the conference they say they want to try to bring to their own higher education institution.
“The way racism is designed if you see it and you’re not fighting it then you are participating in it. There are many things that have to be done. You have to have people that are aware of it and fighting against it,” Taylor, a Parkland College Employee, said.
For more information on Daring Diversity: A Racial Equity Summit visit the Town of Normal’s website at www.normal.org/1448/Daring-Diversity-A-Racial-Equity-Summit.