Welcoming means creating understanding and opportunity for all people

Welcoming means creating understanding and opportunity for all people

Welcoming America | September 28, 2016

At Welcoming America, central to our work is the idea that communities can only thrive when all are valued. And across the country, important work is happening to help both newcomers and long term residents to feel at home and be actively welcomed.

To feel safe, accepted, and able to connect with others are the basic things we all associate with feeling at home. Unfortunately, too many people today do not feel at home; instead they feel excluded and restricted from participating fully in the places they live.

Too many people are also the victims of deep violence – whether they are children who are being bullied because of their perceived religion or background; women being excluded from workplace opportunities because of their gender; young men being targeted, imprisoned, and killed because of the color of their skin, workers being left behind by an economy in turmoil; or loving couples afraid to care for one another because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. And for many of us who hold multiple identities, we may experience not one but many of these painful experiences, either ourselves or among loved ones.

As Americans we believe in treating everybody with dignity regardless of their identity. But what we believe consciously and how we act in moments where our judgement is tested and influenced by fear can be two different things. The impact of our bias – coupled with years of practices and policies that reinforce them – hurts all of us.

Welcoming America does not have all of the answers for making communities the fair and prosperous places they should be, but we do have a network of communities where important conversations are taking place and where strides are being every day to create a safer and more equitable home for everyone. As facilitators of this incredible network, our role is to provide a forum for exchanging ideas and for helping more of us recognize the connections and common ground that can be shared across our multiple identities, while also having the difficult conversations that help us to listen and to make communities feel more like home for everyone.

It’s in that spirit that we offer a number of new tools, including thought pieces from the field and our new webinar series, Welcoming +, which explores new ways to deepen your welcoming efforts across intersections with race, economic development, schools, health equity, and community engagement. We are also very excited for our new Spark Fellows, who are addressing equity, diversity, and inclusion in their welcoming work.

Let us know what you think – you can join the conversation on Twitter by tagging @welcomingusa - and please share with us the examples from your work of ways that you are creating opportunities for healing across and between different communities.

By Jennifer Driver and Rachel Peric

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