Mixer brings community together

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COLUMBIA - Boone County youth and adults gather together to share experiences from different backgrounds, in light of national conversations surrounding racial bias.

The Matters of Social Justice committee hosted the Mid-Journey Mixer Thursday. The evening marked the halfway point for individuals participating in the the organization’s series of experiences.

From January through August of the year, residents of Boone County participate in different seminars, called cycle of socialization events, that help that identify and examine their own biases. Participants are given passports that serve as a physical reminder of the seminars on race, religion, socioeconomic status and orientation that they attend.

Kari Utterback, a programming committee member, talked about the first steps an individual can take in the process. 

“We are encouraging everyone to take the Harvard IAT, the Implicit Association Test, and then retake it and take it again, because sometimes it’s really hard to see our own biases," Utterback said.

Different organizations and businesses in the Columbia community started the committee last summer. Kristen Cummins, who works for the Boone County community services department, spoke about research that inspired the movement.  

"Dr. Walter Gilliam found that males that are bigger in size and were black were typically expelled more often than any other kid in the childcare centers" Cummins said.

Lauren Williams, a Daniel Boone Regional Library employee, attended the event and spoke about what impact her journey can have on her workplace. 

“I feel like it’s important as a library employee to be on this journey toward inclusiveness. We welcome everyone, we have materials for everyone, but we can always do better,” Williams said. 

Individuals can join the Journey Toward Inclusive Excellence at anytime. The next events will be on the topic of poverty and ability.