Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 17
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
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Taking a Stand Against Racism Inspires Collaboration Between Princeton Groups

Dilshanie Perera

This Friday marks the annual Stand Against Racism, a nation-wide event sponsored by the YWCA, which brings together people of various backgrounds and is designed to combat racism by raising awareness about the issue.

The Princeton YWCA, local merchants, and Not In Our Town, an interracial, interfaith social action group that pledges to “speak truth about ‘everyday racism’ and other forms of prejudice and discrimination,” are joining together to take a stand.

Not In Our Town sponsors events, community programs, and dialogues, including the recent “Continuing Conversations on Race and White Privilege” series and annual Interfaith Unity Awards presented to students at John Witherspoon Middle School and Princeton High School.

While a number of local organizations will be participating in the event, merchants led by Kathie Morolda of the Cranbury Station Galleries on Palmer Square East, will be convening at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, April 30 to form a human chain representing solidarity and community-building.

“This is a subject that I feel passionate about,” said Ms. Morolda. “It’s so important in a business that you act as a host to people who come into your store … and we want to make sure we celebrate this diversity.” She is encouraging business owners to use the day to reflect on how customers are treated, and to begin an ongoing conversation with their staff.

“We want to see how far we can stretch this chain,” she added, noting that many local merchants are getting involved and will encourage employees to participate. The Princeton Soup and Sandwich company will be serving free coffee to all attendees, and among other businesses, the Nassau Inn will be participating with its employees. The public is also encouraged to participate.

“Princeton is the best place in the world to do business,” Ms. Morolda asserted, citing the people of all races, genders, and classes she sees walking to work daily. “Let’s celebrate what we’ve been given here.”

From 5 to 6 p.m. on April 30, Not In Our Town will be rallying in Tiger Park on Nassau Street and Palmer Square, with musical acts including Princeton High School a cappella group Around 8 p.m. Organization member Ann Yasuhara explained that part of the effectiveness of the event lies in reaching out to people beyond those who are already thinking about the problems associated with structural inequities and racism.

Ms. Yasuhara will be passing out slips of paper to passersby with questions like “Do you see people of your race widely represented in magazines, newspapers, and on television?” and “Did your elementary school history books thoroughly cover the history of those in your racial background?” The notes are designed to spur conversation, and get people thinking differently.

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