GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP)–The deadly mass shooting being investigated as a hate crime in Buffalo, New York, has people here at home questioning what can be done to prevent a tragedy that could’ve happened anywhere.
Here in North Carolina, statistics show hate crimes based on race have risen.
So, what organizations already exist, locally, that are trying to dismantle systems of racism?
Authorities said racism led an 18-year-old white man to target and kill numerous black people at this grocery store in Buffalo, New York, Saturday.
“It stuck with me for a lot of reasons just personally, if I had been at that grocery store, I probably would’ve been shot just based off of the shooter’s motive and that is something to have to sit with and carry with, in it of itself outside of the work I do,” said Ivan Canada, Exec. Director of the NCCJ.
The work the National Conference for Community and Justice has been doing to break down systems of racism.
The Justice Department said in the state of North Carolina, hate crimes motivated by race and ethnicity have risen from 83 crimes to 148 between 2018 and 2020.
NCCJ has been holding workshops and retreats for young people in hopes of discussing ways to bring that number down.
“We take about 68 students up to Blowing Rock, NC for a weeklong, intensive residential experience for them to learn about themselves and other young people through the lens of diversity and inclusion,” Canada said.
The retreat, Anytown, lasts about a week and is for students ranging from high school sophomores to rising seniors.
Through a series of workshops, students from diverse backgrounds discuss racism, bigotry, and how they may not be aware of inherent biases.
“What we really want you to do is charge you to think about, what are you going to do differently and to also to own the fact that all of us don’t always speak up and do the things that we want to all the time,” he said.
All of it with a goal of turning students into people who consider inclusivity.
They even have a shorter three-day program called STARS that focuses on dismantling ideas of racism.
While NCCJ does work with Guilford County Schools to get more students who exhibit behaviors that need this kind of training, Canada said sometimes it’s difficult because parents aren’t always on board.
“It doesn’t happen as often because I think if you’re sort of afraid and fearful of having these conversations or just maybe confronting a bias you have in that way, we would welcome that, we don’t necessarily always get that,” Canada said.
The Chamber of Commerce also has a program called “Other Voices” where police officers, business owners and community members discuss issues like this and how they can make a difference.
For more information on programs you can sign your teens up for to help them be more inclusive, go to NCCJtriad.org