The Coalition for Dismantling Racism is a community group formed in 1996 by a diverse group of people living in Kenosha County. Our group came into existence after participating in an anti-racism workshop held at Carthage College that year.
After attending the “Dismantling Racism” workshop many of us decided to continue with these anti-racism efforts. Our goal, then and now, is to identify, expose and eliminate racism in our community. We began our efforts with an initiative we called “Kindness Week” in January 1997.
This initiative was focused on the lifetime work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to bring about racial tolerance and justice for all members of society.
The Coalition has been celebrating Kindness Week in Kenosha for 22 years with some success. During this week each January we hold a series of events that celebrate diversity, highlight student acts of kindness and help to build the “Beloved Community” that was Dr. King’s Dream.
We include the entire Kenosha community in this celebration: schools, colleges, universities, faith congregations and community based organizations.
One of the goals for the Coalition is to raise awareness on some of the issues that divide us and keep us fearful of engaging with one another. We try to challenge the status quo as it relates to religious beliefs, stereotypes, prejudices and racism.
Each year during Kindness Week we hold an event that we have titled “Courageous Conversations.” We select timely topics and focus our conversations on some of the many challenges that we face in our community, things such as bullying, diversity, minority incarceration, religious differences, and mental health. These subjects are often difficult discussions, but necessary for growth and understanding among people living in this changing community.
In January 2018 the Coalition began a series of “Courageous Conversations” centered on what seems to be a “Resurgence of Racism” in this country. We introduced this topic in January and will continue targeted discussions throughout the balance of this year.
In March, our group conversation focused on Disparities in Healthcare outcomes for minority members of the community. On May 21st the topic of conversation will be Law Enforcement and minority group perceptions of this profession. We are pleased that Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth has agreed to appear at this important “Courageous Conversation” to present information and answer questions from the audience.
This forum will be held at the Civil War Museum, starting at 6 p.m. We invite the Kenosha community to come and participate in this conversation to share information and promote understanding. This event is free and open to the public. (Police Chief Daniel Miskinis was invited to this conversation but he declined.)
Our anti-racism efforts will continue with more “Courageous Conversations” in July with a focus on Minority Incarceration, in September the discussion will be Education, and in November the topic will be Employment.
Through these community conversations we hope to expose and dismantle racism in our community. Meaningful dialogue should help raise awareness, promote respect for differences and provide understanding.
Action should follow dialogue so that those living in Kenosha will be equipped with the necessary tools needed to recognize, confront and eradicate racism in our community.
We hope to see you at these Courageous Conversations!
Adelene Greene is chairwoman of the Kindness Committee and one of the founding members of the Coalition for Dismantling Racism.