CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Before communities members marched through town in the name of Martin Luther King Jr., many attended the 12th annual YWCARacial Justice Forum. President of the YWCA said people in the past have enjoyed the discussion and finding solutions for racial justice.
“We’re not going to fulfill the dream right here right now, necessarily. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not our job to take whatever steps we can take,” said Rabbi Ilan Emanuel of Congregation Beth Israel, one of the panelists.
Together we can be the dream.
That is the theme of this year’s YWCA Racial Justice Forum. Something that’s been put on for 12 years to educate the community.
“Focus on what we’re doing well and how we can do more of that and do more collaboratively for increased racial justice,” said Nancy Wesson-Dodd, president and CEO of the YWCA.
Five panelists took part. They all gave different perspectives and come from different parts of the coastal bend.
Coretta Graham is the president and CEO of the Corpus Christi Black Chamber of Commerce. Geri Escobar is the managing director for C2 Global Professional Services. Aniruddha Mukhopadhyay is an assistant professor of English and graduate coordinator of cultural studies program at Texas A&M University Kingsville. Emanuel is the Rabbi of the local synagogue. Jeremy Coleman is the president of the local chapter of the NAACP.
Graham began speaking about barriers to racial justice. One, being ignorance
"If you don't recognize different cultures in your community, that's a problem," she said.
The other barrier she said was conscious indifference.
“People who know, but choose to look the other way," said Graham. "We have too many people who know the injustice going on in our community, but then act like, oh it’s not my problem.”
“I think one of the biggest barriers right now is people not having conversations,” Mukhopadhyay added.
“The media could do more to stand against it, they choose not to. I firmly believe that,” Coleman said.
What can be done to achieve racial justice?
Coleman spoke of something he went through in high school, but sees the recurring theme to this day.
“Our organizations, our communities have to seriously be involved and be engaged. It can’t just be one, it can’t just be one of us,” he said.
Piggy backing off that, Graham said it boils down to people having to be courageous.
“Don’t be afraid to speak up and act up to address it because it’s not going to go away unless we as individuals act with courage,” she said.
The forum was also sponsored by AEP. Company representative Omar Lopez said it's because after the death of George Floyd, they decided to rethink how they give back to the community and started shifting more grant money to social justice initiatives.