Bemidji Area Nonprofits Come Together To Discuss History, Race & Equity
The meeting room of the Northwest Indian Development Center in Bemidji was packed with non-profit executive directors, board members and employees today. The group dove into the tough topic of race, racism, and our history and how it affects us today.
“We really are challenging some of those injustices and thinking about ways that we can change our organizational policies, how we can be more inclusive with the way that we are doing the work that we do,” says Ashley Charwood, the Northwest Minnesota Regional coordinator for the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits.
The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits set up the workshop called “Relearning The Past: Informing the Present.” The presentation went into various topics, such as US Presidents, language, and culture. The main focus was getting attendees to understand the history that still affects us today.
“History told by the hunter will always glorify the hunter, and so there’s a lot of stories that we’re missing, and so a lot of the context of the presentation is understanding and bringing in those voices and those histories that we’re not hearing so that we have a fuller picture with which to work with,” says Kevin Williams, the workshop presenter.
20 Bemidji area non-profits were apart of the conversation, and they all ranged in fields such as schools, the arts, housing and mental health. MCN says a lot of workshops like these are held down in the Twin Cities, but the organization has a goal of bringing more of them to greater Minnesota.
Charwood says, “We have regional coordinators throughout the whole state of Minnesota and our goal is to really think greater than the Metro, to think of outstate Minnesota too, and so I was really intentional in bringing this workshop up here so people don’t have to travel.”
At the end, the groups were asked to share what they plan to bring back to their organizations from today’s workshop. Many said they hope to utilize language in a positive and inclusive way.
“Some of the things that I learned today were to really challenge some of those false narratives that we’ve heard, whether it’s from our history books or our family,” says Charwood.
Williams says, “I hope people walk away with the idea that their worldview is not the only worldview and that if we really are interested in having a society that is a human culture, that is inclusive, that is based on equity, then we have to be mindful of how we add different worldviews to our general perspective.”
MCN will be continuing the discussion on culture and equity with a roundtable discussion hosted by the United Way of Bemidji. It will be held next Tuesday at noon at the United Way of Bemidji’s building and is open to the public. You can learn more about MCN’s regional events here.