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Welcoming America | Toolkit for talking about bias, race, and change

Access the Toolkit at this link:

There has never been a more important time to talk to our communities about what it means to be a truly welcoming place. Welcoming is about more than tolerance—it’s about developing a true respect and appreciation for our neighbors, creating policies and programs that support inclusion, and making sure that everyone—newcomer or longtime resident—feels they belong.

Welcoming is also about equity, and more specifically, racial equity—achieving the best and most fair results for everyone so that we can all prosper. To get there, we have to be proactive and engage in conversations with our community that are not always easy, but are crucially important.

As an organization concerned with creating more equitable and inclusive communities, and with addressing the root causes of what makes communities unwelcoming for immigrants and refugees in particular, Welcoming America has learned that leaders benefit from tools that help them to engage with what we call “receiving communities”—the places that are being reshaped by demographic change and immigration, and the diverse longtime residents who live there. This means getting at the thorny issues that prevent communities from moving forward, together.

Fortunately, America is in the middle of a much needed and long overdue conversation about race, bias, and immigration. And when our communities change demographically—and when immigrant communities become more racially and religiously diverse, as they are today—this conversation becomes even more important, and the tools to effectively engage receiving communities all the more critical.

At the time of publication of this toolkit, the country is not only in the midst of a presidential election and its often divisive rhetoric, but grappling in very public ways with what a more racially and religiously diverse America means for both policy and everyday culture. And unfortunately, too much of that conversation is being conducted by TV talking heads more interested in debating and debasing than in building resilient and thriving communities.

For ordinary people who want to engage in meaningful conversations about our changing communities, immigration, and racial bias, it can be challenging and difficult to know how or where to start. You don’t have to look very far—just the television news or social media—to see how polarizing the discourse can be. And that discourages us from stepping into conversations about these topics with people in our community, workplace, or place of worship.

Out of fear of saying the wrong thing or not having a space to talk about these issues, there are millions of people in our communities who are not engaged in the dialogue about immigration and bias.