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Race will promote equality

by Alecia Warren
| April 6, 2010 9:00 PM

Walking a mile in another ethnicity's shoes is something few do in their lifetimes.

Residents of the Inland Northwest will get that chance this month.

The first Race for Equality, scheduled on April 25, will give locals a chance to meet representatives of subgroups across the region, hear their frustrations, and take a short jaunt by their sides.

"The biggest thing is getting people educated," said Christa Jennings with the Lewis and Clark State College Organization of Social Workers, putting on the event. "Some think Coeur d'Alene is a white supremacy place. We just want to get the word out there is diversity here, there is collaboration here and there are people who support it."

A symbolic relay race will be the main event at Race for Equality, also organized by the Human Rights Education Institute and the Coeur d'Alene High School Human Rights Club.

Representatives of 20 constituencies from across the Inland Northwest - including different ethnicities, religions and socioeconomic groups - will pass batons in a mile-long relay on the CHS track while locals watch.

Afterward, the representatives will converge and each explain to the audience one statement about their group they want to never hear again.

The object is dispelling stereotypes, said Tanner Hilbish with the CHS Human Rights Club.

"I think a lot of people make comments about these ethnicities, and that's how they think it really is," said Hilbish, a CHS senior. "We think that (hearing the constituents' statements) will be really, really powerful."

Finally, locals who attend the event will be randomly assigned to join one of the constituents for a mile walk around the track, or as far as individuals can go.

"You'll literally be walking with different groups and sharing solidarity," said Rachel Dolezal, HREI direction of education. "It will be a powerful experience in terms of what it does and just in just encouraging interaction with all the constituents."

Before the relay, the event will feature live music, face painting, inflatable toys and lunch catered by Applebee's.

Participants will get free T-shirts.

All ages are welcome, Jennings said.

"We wanted to make sure it was a family function for everyone in the area," she said. "We wanted to not make it prohibitive."

The event will be from noon to 2 p.m. on April 25 at the CHS track.

Registration costs $5 for kids 12 and younger, $10 for individuals, and $20 for a family of four or less.

Folks can either register at the event, or pre-register by calling HREI at: 292-2359.

All proceeds will go toward HREI operation costs.

Jennings' club got the idea after hearing about someone hanging a noose in Dolezal's yard.

"We wanted to do something," she said.

Celebrating community diversity is a good step to ending prejudice, Dolezal said.

"Anyone who wants to create a new reputation for Coeur d'Alene, this is their call to action," Dolezal said.

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