‘Conversations’ highlight Winston-Salem neighborhood group’s summit

‘Conversations’  highlight Winston-Salem neighborhood  group’s summit
October 29
00:00 2015

Above: Monica Walker speaks during the first Cross-Systems Equity Summit on Saturday, Oct. 24. (Photo by Tevin Stinson)

By Tevin Stinson
The Chronicle

Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods was the host of the first Cross-Systems Equity Summit on the campus of Winston-Salem State University.
The summit was designed to bring local institutions, government agencies and community-based organizations together to discuss, plan, strategize and fund efforts to work on social; economic and educational disparities plaguing a number of communities.

Paula McCoy, executive director of Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods, said these conversations have to happen to make an impact in neighborhoods of color.
“Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods is about asset-based community development but you can’t do any work without recognizing what is going on in communities of color, so we have to talk about it.”

According to McCoy, the regions’s slow economic recovery combined with rising inequality and wide racial gaps in income, education and opportunity puts the region’s economic future at risk.

Monica Walker, national trainer for the People’s Institute for Survival & Beyond, was the guest speaker for the summit, sponsored by the United Way of Forsyth County on Saturday, Oct. 24. During her speech, Walker presented data from a number of universities and professors that showed how race is a determining factor when it comes to social, economic and educational disparities.

The data collected by Walker and others were designed to show that race is always factored into the structural analysis of systems such as health care and education. Walker believes that to improve the quality of life of the African-American community, the data must be used as part of the solution.

“If race is present in the outcome, a structural analysis of race must be part of the solution,” said Walker. “If the program you are designing has not considered a structural analysis, then that is the reason you are getting what you are getting, because you are not asking the question why.”

Many of the people who attended the event are members of nonprofit organizations, community development organizations, community leaders and educators.
Dr. Yolanda Edmonds, chair of the Department of Rehabilitation Counseling at Winston-Salem State University, said she came to the program to get to know the community better.

“The program I have is a rehab counseling program, so we actually train people to work within the community specifically dealing with disabilities and employment,” said Edmonds. “I wanted to get to know the community a little better so when we get ready to work with the students, we know they will be working for the community.”

Following Walker’s presentation, a number of attendees said, although they had seen the data before seeing the research compiled at a event with people from different backgrounds, really helps to think of solutions to the problems.

“Because I work with data, I’ve seen that data before, but when she put it all together, that’s what made an impact for me,” Edmonds said.
“I already knew a lot of the information but when you start showing it in every area education, employment, healthcare it makes a bigger impact.”
The room used for the event was full, but some thought others should have attended because they are most affected by the data presented.

Sisters Tashandra and Marquita Wisley, who are members of the Cleveland Avenue Transformation Team, said they believed more young African-American males should have attended.
“I’ve been to this before, when they had it in Greensboro. I came today to see what type of people are coming out to get this information,” said Tashondra Wisley. “The people who are targeted the most by racial disparities in this country are not here.”

“I really enjoyed the speech today, but I just think people have to see the people who are affected by the decisions they are making,” said Marquita. “We should be having these same types of conversations in our on neighborhoods and communities.”

Following Walker’s opening address, a number of separate sessions were held on a number of specific topics including; “Faith & Race: Are we a Community of Unity?,” “Let’s Talk about Education,” “The Health of the Health Industry for Communities of Color,” “Is Racial Justice Possible in our Justice System,” and “Income, Gender and Race: Policy & Poverty.”

For more information on Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods, visit

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