On Tuesday, June 18, JUFJ hosted a Racial Equity Community Conversation to discuss systemic racism in Montgomery County and to provide feedback to county government as they craft a racial equity policy. Here are reflections on the event from two JUFJers.
I was so impressed with the thoughtfulness of the many people who participated in our Community Conversation on Tuesday, June 18th. Our convening drew approximately 80 people from high school students to octogenarians and it appeared to me that EVERYONE fully participated in our meaningful conversations about racial equity in Montgomery County.
I facilitated a conversation at one of the tables. We had a high school rising sophomore, a new college graduate, a couple of millenials, a few middle aged people, and several 70+. Our group included two men and two people of color. We had a stimulating conversation, shared stories of being impacted by inequities, and brainstormed very creative possible solutions. We also acknowledged barriers to making systemic changes. I felt great hopefulness after this conversation. The people I encountered Tuesday evening, espeically the young people, are bright, caring and so very thoughtful.
The idea behind the racial equity conversation was to create a space in which people could speak openly and comfortably while analyzing systemic racism in Montgomery County and the steps we believe need to be taken to dismantle these systems.
It felt that there was just the right amount of framing so the groups, once the discussion began, were able to direct themselves to have productive and constructive conversations. We were encouraged to explore what we thought to be norms and see the impact of our thought patterns, and what we have been taught on these systems.
Before we even began the formal conversations, community memberstold eye-opening stories about the racial inequities and disparities here in our county. In Montgomery County there is a culture of thinking that we are more progressive, more forward thinking than other areas, and in some ways we are, but there are still so many issues in the county that need resolving, and the public is not always aware.
Something that came up in the conversation I was part of was that while the public doesn’t always know about these systems, it might not be our fault. Information is not easily accessible, which is why it is important for organizations like JUFJ to share it with those interested.
I am proud to be a part of these conversations that will move Montgomery County to a more equitable future.
Part of JUFJ’s racial equity campaign in Montgomery County is ending police violence against Black and brown Marylanders. On Tuesday, July 9, we will speak at a hearing to create civilian oversight of our police force.