Nationwide Friday, community organizations celebrate Stand Against Racism day. Locally, both Janesville and Beloit city councils have passed resolutions proclaiming Stand Against Racism day in Rock County. YWCA USA asks its local organizations, "What will it take to create a community that is free of racism in all forms?"

While census figures show roughly 36% of Beloit residents identify themselves as a minority, and Janesville's minority population has doubled in the last decade, the biggest challenge in our community is that most of us do not know many people of color personally.

I've had coworkers who refer to "those people". However, when there is a one-on-one relationship built, then respect grows and racism diminishes.

Completely eliminating racism in all forms might not be possible, but we can work toward dismantling racism one piece at a time. Small every day actions can grow into social change.

Our Immigrant Outreach Program Director, Crusita Barrios, poses an interesting analogy. Think of the automatic deductions that are a part of each paycheck. The deductions don't seem that noticeable, until you report your income taxes and you realize how much they add up.

If we stand up for diversity, and stand against racism, in small ways every day it will also add up. If someone starts complaining about how illegal aliens are taking all our jobs, do you stay silent? Or do you use that as a springboard for conversation?

Rock County is home to several groups like the Diversity Action Team. Member Jeanne Carfora says the team is based on eliminating racism and creating an inclusive community. From our DAT spring groups like Courageous Conversations, an in-depth book study group that deals honestly with racism. YWCA Rock County hosts racial justice workshops, and invites community members to join the YWCA Racial Justice Committee. Our county also has other study groups, which learn the pain of racism and how we can respond together to create a better community.

But you don't need to join groups to be part of the solution. Speak up and stand up against racism.

This post is part of the YWCA Stand Against Racism blog carnival – we invite you to join the dialogue! Post your comment below, share your story and follow the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #StandAgainstRacism.

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