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Several organizations and others joined in on a virtual meeting to address racism in the community

Published: Jul. 31, 2020 at 4:57 AM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) -

FSU-PC, the LEAD Coalition, Bay Arts Alliance, and others are encouraging the community to share personal experiences of racism and why they believe it can help.

Some local organizations are inviting locals out to tell their personal stories about racism and how they believe these testimonials can help.

“This is not a time to lecture it’s a time to listen. I think that’s the best way we can come together to solve issues and problems,” said Bay County Resident Braden Friday.

Several organizations, locals, and community leaders joined in on a virtual meeting called Hurt: Personal Stories of Pain to share stories and help pave the way for the unity of races in Panama City.

“We have to make a conscious intentional effort to judge based on the relationship we have with them, and not based on these other aspects,” said Bay County Resident Damion Dunlap.

“There’s been a history of racial tension,” FSU-PC Professor Robert Cvornyek said. “The extent we need to open that up to take a look at ourselves and our brothers and sisters and move forward in the process of correcting those errors and problems and healing, Panama City definitely needs to do that.”

During the meeting people were split into breakout groups to talk about systemic racism, white privilege, reverse-discrimination and other race-related topics.

“You could have bias, you could be prejudice but not reverse discrimination,” said Bay County Resident Carolynn Zonia.

“Some feel as though a certain group has had an advantage while they perceive they may be disadvantaged, then that reality of reverse discrimination is very real,” said Panama City Resident Irvin Clark.

Many also shared stories about how racism affected their lives and how our community can grow and be better than before.

“All of this will have a purpose. We are going to be looking for ways in which we can provide a sense of racial justice in the community,” said Cvornyek.

Event organizers say they plan to hold several more discussions like this to help bring the community closer together.

Copyright 2020 WJHG. All rights reserved.

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