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Greenwich To Stand Against Racism

Racism is alive and well, says Barry Nova, director of communications and racial justice for the YWCA Greenwich . “It may not be as bad here, but anyone who says, ‘There’s no racism in Greenwich’ is lying,” he said.

On Friday, the Greenwich YWCA will join 77 other YWCAs in a national effort called Stand Against Racism Day. The movement aims to eliminate racism by raising awareness through the annual event.

It began nationally three years ago because of the number of hate groups in the United States. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, by 2010 the number of hate groups had grown 54 percent in the past eight years. Currently, 1,000 active hate groups are active nationally.

Nova said racism and hatred are taught. "Because it comes from parents. When you see preschoolers at 1-and-a-half-years-old, a black child and a Chinese child playing together, quite happily, there’s no hatred there,” he said.

First Selectman Peter Tesei proclaimed Friday as the second annual “Stand Against Racism Day” in Greenwich. Member of the YWCA and the community will gather Friday at 11 a.m. at the Town Hall Meeting Room to mark the day.

At Friday’s event, members of the choir at the First Baptist Church in Greenwich will perform musical selections under the direction of Michelle Hilton, the minister of music and an accompanist. Tesei, U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, president and CEO of YWCA Adrianne Singer, Superintendent of Schools Sidney Freund and the Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year winner Noelle Valentine will all be speaking.

“The success of ‘Stand Against Racism Day’ … the strength of the message … will come from the number of participating sites in the community,” Singer said in a statement.

Any organization or group in Greenwich can partner in the effort, free of charge, by going to Stand Against Racism website and clicking “Become a Participating Site.” Current participants in Greenwich include every Greenwich Public School, the Boys & Girls Club, Kids in Crisis, Boy Scouts, Brunswick School, Christ Church, Family Centers, Greenwich Academy, Greenwich Library, Greenwich Town Hall, Second Congregational Church, Temple Sholom, United Way of Greenwich and the Urban League of Southern Connecticut.

Groups receive free “Racism Hurts Everyone” pins, free “Pledge Against Racism” bookmarks and posters as well as a “How to Run Your Event” document. Events can be anything from a gathering of office workers to a sermon at a church or people just wearing their pins for that day.

Nova said he hopes the event will lead to increased awareness. “We have to watch it. We have to be aware that it’s there, and we have to confront it when we find it,” he said.

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