More Activities to Help Our Community Develop an Equity-oriented Lens

Stark County, OH (August 13, 2021) – On August 10, 2021, the Dismantling Racism Coalition of Stark County will celebrate its one-year anniversary of launching the 15-day Unity Challenge.

Over the past 365 days, more than 2,200 community members have participated in the Unity Challenge and over 50 organizations have made a public commitment of their support by becoming endorsers of the challenge.

Quotes from participants:

  • I knew that I had biases, I’ve experienced other people’s biases towards me. What surprised me is how insidious and ingrained those biases are in everyday life. It will take conscious and constant work to recognize and overcome those biases
  • It’s so important for us to immerse ourselves in a diverse group of people so that we are constantly hearing different perspectives.
  • The reading lists and activities are really helpful. I felt ashamed reading the list .. yet somewhat hopeful 

In August 2020, the Dismantling Racism Coalition of Stark County launched the 15-day Unity Challenge to Dismantle Racism. The challenge creates dedicated time and space to build more effective social justice habits regarding race, power, privilege, and leadership. Participants explore racial equity and social injustice through activities designed to dismantle racism and other forms of discrimination by reading articles, listening to podcasts, or watching videos pertaining to the daily topic to discover the ways bias impacts injustice in our community.

October to December 2020, the coalition facilitated three online community discussions on Education, Privilege, and Allyship. The discussions were designed to continue the conversation concerning racism and discrimination and were well attended.

For Black History Month 2021, the coalition launched an 8-day condensed version of the challenge on Feb 1, with an online debrief after the launch; introduced a “Why Didn’t I Learn This in School” campaign on social media, focused on little known facts in African American history; and presented “Giving Voice to Anti-Bias Practices” to the Stark County Human Resource Association.

Throughout March, April and May 2021, the group offered online discussions to small groups of Stark County residents addressing the social determinants of health (specifically how racism and discrimination impact behavioral health) and Brown vs. Board of Education; presented a second “Why Didn’t I Learn This in School” campaign, focused on little known facts the LGBTQIA+ community; facilitated/hosted conversations for organizations throughout the community, including Aultman, Stark County Human Resource Association, and the Youth Leadership Academy (Leadership Stark); and participated in the Divided Communities Project, designed to synthesize insights for collaborative approaches to community division, provide counsel to local leaders and help these leaders translate these principles into local practices.

In continuing to change the narrative, next steps include the rollout of the Unity Challenge 2.0 with new content; creating a playbook to assist companies in developing an equity-oriented lens; sharing the oral history of diversity in Stark County; continuing the facilitation of equity conversations with various organizations both in and outside of Stark County; and developing a plan for asset mapping, to better understand community needs and uncover solutions.

About Dismantling Racism Coalition of Stark County
Dismantling Racism Coalition of Stark County began in June 2020 and is a partnership between 15 organizations: Child & Adolescent Behavioral Health, Coming Together Stark County, The Greater Stark County Urban League, Kent State University at Stark, Ohio Department of Education State Support Team Region 9, Stark County Collaborative on Race Relations, Stark Education Partnership, Stark County Educational Service Center, Stark County Health Department and local health departments (Alliance, Canton City, and Massillon), Stark County Mental Health and Addiction Recovery, United Way of Greater Stark County, and YWCA Canton. Dismantling Racism is a movement, not a moment. Stark County organizations can take a real step toward dismantling racism and make a public commitment by endorsing the challenge. Take the pledge against racism to ensure these messages and actions go beyond this critical moment in time. Join the challenge online at Dismantling Racism Coalition of Stark County

For more information:  LaFlovia “Flo” Ginanni/ Director, Project Blueprint United Way of Greater Stark County 330-491-9984 | laflovia.ginanni@uwstark.org