Does Kingman need to have the racism conversation?

Kingman Progressive Alliance for Positive Change, Kingman United Pastoral Association and the NAACP want to find out

The City and its residents have prioritized efforts to get to the bottom of racism within the community ever since the airing of Sacha Baron Cohen’s “Who is America?” Now citizens, with the help of Kingman Progressive Alliance for Positive Change, are taking the first steps in rooting out intolerance in Kingman.

The progressive alliance, along with the Kingman United Pastoral Association and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, are hosting a Discussion of Intolerance and Racism in our Community from 6 – 9 p.m. Monday, Aug. 6, at Trinity Episcopal Church, 425 E. Spring St. Alliance spokesman Stan Major described the meeting as an opportunity to speak on thoughts and feelings relating to racism, an issue which has not been given much attention in Kingman.

“We’re testing the waters,” he said. “We’re going to find out if people feel there’s a need for this.”

The event was prompted by a segment in Cohen’s “Who is America?” Showtime program which depicted community members, and therefore the City itself, as racist. In his show, Cohen tells a group of individuals that a $385 million mosque is planned for Kingman. Responses from attendees were unsettling, and included derogatory statements toward Muslims and African Americans.

Kingman Progressive Alliance representative Julya Carey views the discussion as a medium for self-improvement and investigation.

“For those of us whose first reaction (as it should be) was to denounce the statements made by the participants in the video … for those of us who consider ourselves informed and aware, this exposure brings opportunity,” Carey wrote in a KPA statement. “We have the chance now to investigate our own biases and challenge those around us to do the same. It is time to renew our commitment to understanding each other and our neighbors. We can reach out to learn how the experiences of others differ from ours.”

Speakers for the event include Father Philip Shaw of Trinity Episcopal Church, Roy Tatem of the NAACP, as well as a representative from the Kingman United Pastoral Association. However, Major said the meeting’s primary focus is to allow for community discussion.

“Most of the meeting, as presently envisioned, will be regular folks talking about their thoughts and feelings about the issues of racism and intolerance,” he said.

Major recommends anyone with opinions on racism and intolerance in Kingman attend Monday’s meeting, regardless of whether those thoughts are positive or negative. What’s important is the discussion itself.

“We’ll be asking for suggestions at the end of the meeting on Monday,” Major said. “We’ll also be trying to organize an ongoing meeting event to discuss the topics further. Our hope is that actions arise out of these meetings in an organic manner.”

Major notes the discussion isn’t likely to be completed after just one night of public consideration.

“We at the KPA consider this to be a long-term project,” Major said. “However this meeting turns out, we plan to keep educating the community about these issues.”