Systemic racism stifles the prosperity of people of color in this country. It moves its way through communities, decreasing chances for opportunity and growth. Our Neighborhood Network partner in Bronzeville, Bright Star Community Outreach, created an initiative called Faith in Justice and Peace (FIJAP) to address the root causes of systemic racism while also addressing the effects it has on residents in this historically Black neighborhood.
FIJAP is a movement born out of the social and civil unrest that occurred after the violent death of George Floyd. Pastor Harris of Bright Star Community Church, along with faith and community leaders, started FIJAP to address five core areas in the community. Those areas included systemic racism, community and economic development, physical and mental health, housing as a social determinant of health, and advocacy.
FIJAP will address these five core areas by creating open discussion spaces, bringing resources to communities of color to make neighborhoods more liveable, addressing access to quality health care, ensuring that a zip-code does not determine one’s life and providing the education necessary to bring truth to power.
To introduce FIJAP to the Bronzeville community, Nichole Carter, chief of staff at Bright Star Community Outreach, created a healing symposium for residents to have conversations on how systemic racism affects their way of life.
“Systemic racism is evident in every area of the community from lack of opportunity, to disinvestment, to gentrification, to food deserts. There is nothing that is untouched by systemic racism in our communities,” said Nichole.
United Way helps fund community organizations like Bright Star because we understand that the fight in ending systemic racism will take all of us. We are all working towards collective action to help address the needs of our Neighborhood Networks.
“I don’t think that one person or one organization has the power to change what’s happened for so long in history. It’s a really big ship that has to be turned,” Nichole stated. “So, this is an opportunity for residents to not just talk about things but to actually put some steps in place, to better their collective communities.”
At the symposium, there were neighbors from all different cultural backgrounds and ages learning from speakers and each other. The healing symposium created space for honest discussions, marking the beginning of a movement towards lasting change for communities of color in Bronzeville.
“Through communities is how we’ll make change. So we have to be the conduit of opportunities to do so,” said Nichole.
Bright Star Community Outreach plans to implement more events similar to the healing symposium in the coming year to continue the momentum that FIJAP has brought to the community.
When you give to United Way, you support organizations like Bright Star Community Outreach to address systemic racism in their community. Donate today!
By Jessica Jones, AmeriCorps Multimedia Journalist