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Alliance For Interracial Dignity

January 12, 2018
The Alliance for Interracial Dignity has been meeting in various formats in the Webster Groves area for the past six years. Its purpose is to create community conversations across the "don't go there" divides of skin color and other polarizations.

In my months of participation in some of the activities of this group, I have become more aware of my own "white privilege." For all of my life, society has given me a badge of freedom from suspicion that my African-American brothers and sisters have not been given, but have had to very carefully cultivate and "earn."

While active prejudice may have been reduced in the past 50 years, implicit bias often affects the judgments we make about people different than ourselves. Subconscious bias affects whom we deem a suspicious character. It affects policies of education, courts and law enforcement.

Last fall a panel of African-American North Webster and Rock Hill residents shared their experiences in a community that likes to think of itself as free of old prejudices. There were stories of progress, but also stories of lingering scrutiny that differs for shoppers, students and drivers based on the color of their skin.

On Tuesday evenings, a small group of citizens meet at a local coffee shop to share stories and discuss "touchy topics."

Topics have included "white power salutes" in high school hallways and the emergence swastikas penned or painted on school property.

A series of monthly evening meetings have addressed topics like school disciplinary policies that have been dubbed a "pipeline to prison" especially for African-American male children. Another examined the history of housing values throughout St. Louis County and the impact of racial demographics on a family's ability to achieve the economic benefits of rising home values.

On Wednesday, Jan. 24, at 7 p.m., there will be a meeting to discuss public safety and to provide input into how the new Prop P funds will be used by the Webster Groves and Rock Hill police departments.

We all still have lots to learn about ourselves and one another.

For information about upcoming Alliance events, email Sarah Riss at allianceforinterracialdignity@gmail.com.

Martin Luther King Day Events

Sunday, January 14, marks the 23rd annual commemorative Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration. Marchers will leave from Webster Groves City Hall at 4:30 p.m. Steger School in Rock Hill. A community dinner and program follows.

On Monday, Jan. 15, there will be a musical celebration honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at 1 p.m. in the Keating Auditorium at Kirkwood High School.

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