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Champions for Change teaches how to promote equality

Bridging racial divides and promoting inclusivity, Marshalltown Community College hosted “Champions for Change” with three community leaders.

Owner of La Carreta Mexican Grill Alfonso Medina, Marshalltown REM Director Aly Wenner and Elizabeth Medina of LGBTQ leadership institute One Iowa spoke and took questions on issues regarding race, equality and how to fight for change locally.

“Each and every one of us is so instrumental in working towards change and progressing as a community,” Wenner said. “If you have ideas to make the community better always pursue those opportunities and do whatever you can to make this a better community for all of us.”

The community leaders gave advice on how to be an ally and how to help when issues of inequality do not directly affect someone personally.

“You don’t necessarily have to be or consider yourself a part of a demographic or group to care for what they believe in and what they’re fighting for,” Alfonso Medina said. “Sometimes true change begins to happen when someone from the outside begins to care for those people.”

Elizabeth Medina said being an ally means more than just showing support on social media and donating to causes, those looking to be an ally must ensure their intentions are genuine and not performative. They suggested to those looking to be an ally to get out on the frontlines and be a part of the process of change such as contacting officials in local government.

“Just being that extra voice for those people, it’s power in the masses,” Elizabeth Medina said.

They also suggested when encountering new ideas to do research before becoming an advocate.

Wenner said it is not always the job of people apart of marginalized communities to do the educating, and people should be mindful of how events such as the murder of George Floyd affect those within diverse communities.

“These are traumatic experiences, whether these are people from the trans community or the Black community, these things hit deep when we have unjust murders,” Wenner said. “Educate yourself on these topics instead of looking for people within that community to educate you on them.”

Alfonso Medina also said self education is the place to start, and encouraged others to seek out unbiased sources of information and look at history to understand why people are fighting for change.

Wenner suggested more people from diverse groups make an effort to join local committees and pursue leadership positions within the community to provide their perspective.

“Other people can’t know if it’s not a lived and learned experience,” Wenner said.

Acknowledging the occasional discomfort of talking about race with some white individuals, Elizabeth Medina suggested not being afraid of facing difficult conversations because it is what makes others learn.

“One of the things I have learned is being okay with that uncomfortableness and to kind of let other people sit in it and grow from that,” Elizabeth Medina said.

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Contact Trevor Babcock at 641-753-6611

or tbabcock@timesrepublican.com

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