Forum Tackles Racial Equality In Sacramento

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, March 6, 2009

Bonnie Ratner helped organize the monthly discussions among African Americans, Latinos, Asians, Pacific Islanders, Middle Easterners, Native Americans and Caucasians.

She says the talks started out as any good community building work should begin… 

“…with telling personal stories.” 

…stories of racial profiling, religious discrimination and prejudice. Ratner says one common theme came up. 

“People are concerned about media and that negative stereotypes do not get perpetuated.” 

People like Shaker Balkis – a 52 year old Muslim man who’s been taking part in the community meetings.

He’s a Palestinian refugee who came to the U.S. in the late ‘70s.   

“After September 11th, (there was) a lot of discrimination against us. But now after we start meeting we can understand each other and we can go forward.” 

The monthly talks were part of a nationwide campaign by Everyday Democracy. The last forum is set for Saturday at the Jose Rizal Community Center in South Sacramento where committee members will announce their solutions for better racial equality.