Summit Encourages Conversations On Race In Rochester

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Facing Race, Embracing Equity, or FR=EE, held its Community Summit On Race last week, sparking dialogue on racism and racial issues in the Rochester area through a series of workshops. The event was the fourth of its kind.

“Facing Race, Embracing Equity is designed to promote awareness about racial issues in Rochester and foster meaningful conversations about how we can substantially improve our understanding of each other, identify pathways to alleviate structural inequity, and reduce disparities that exist in our community,” the summit’s website reads.

The Democrat and Chronicle reports that the summit included 14 interactive workshops as well as breakout discussions. Topics included segregation, mass incarceration, poverty in schools, collegiate inclusivity, police accountability, and other relevant topics.

“There are workshops here for everyone, no matter where you are on the continuum: on the beginning of a journey, or if you just want to put your toe in the water of addressing these issues,” Banks told Democrat And Chronicle. “There really is something for everyone with this year’s summit.”

FR=EE’s summit took place just weeks after ACT Rochester released its 2017 County Report Cards, showing sobering results for Monroe County. The Democrat and Chronicle report also found that child poverty in Rochester is up, affecting 50% of black children and 42% of Hispanic children.

In addition, the report found that black people spend 47% of their household income on housing, while white people only spend 30%, a clear illustration of racial inequality. This number speaks to the fact that the Great Recession never ended for many communities, with about 75% of the U.S. population still living paycheck-to-paycheck and 27% not having savings at all.

Tom Argust, chairman of the ACT Rochester Advisory Committee, told the Democrat and Chronicle that these numbers show a larger narrative of poverty and inequality in the city.

“There is nothing as powerful as data placed in the context of a story,” he said. “ACT Rochester data, coupled with a clearly stated and compelling story, brings poverty and racial disparities out of hiding in such a way that these issues cannot be ignored any longer.”

Through studies like this and summits like the one held by FR=EE, the Rochester community can continue the conversation about racism and inequality, turning these words into action.

“The aim of the summit is to encourage meaningful conversations, improve how much we understand each other and identify pathways to relieve structural inequalities and reduce racial disparities,” Natalie L. Banks, FR=EE program coordinator, said in a statement. “We need to start somewhere and we have to to it.”

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