Community leaders hope a three-week educational program helps people talk about race, bias and systemic inequities by providing online prompts and resources.
The Arlington and Mansfield area 21-Day Challenge will run from June 19 to July 9. Each day, participants will receive a prompt and supplementary videos, articles and informational graphics. A full list of challenges is available on the group’s website.
Participants can control their experience and whether to share their thoughts on the prompt or complete it by themselves. Either way, the program is geared at challenging people to think critically about the conversations that grew louder after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, said Jeffery Petty, Arlington deputy police chief.
“What I don’t want to happen is that we always just wait for the next crisis and we all mobilize, do something for awhile and just forget it like it never happened,” he said.
Petty was one of several representatives from police agencies, schools and community groups to help create questions, pull together resources and build the website.
Over the last summer, Petty and APD have partnered with Bridging the Gap, a group that regularly hosts events and meetings with law enforcement and residents. Group programs include Meet Me at the Shop, where officers speak to people in barber shops about police interaction and youth gun violence, and a skate party scheduled for June 22.
Felicia Williams, Bridging the Gap founder, said the 21-Day Challenge is a continuation of the group’s goal to keep an open dialogue between agencies and residents.
“We want to bring education. We want to bring training, transformation. We want to bring empowerment. We want to bring it all and encouragement,” Williams said.
Eddie Moore Jr., director of Wisconsin-based Privilege Institute, created the challenge based on the the notion that people take three weeks to establish habits. Companies, law enforcement agencies and schools have taken on their own iterations of the challenge. Williams and Lisa Thompson with UT Arlington tailored the prompt for a local office.
Heidi Hardy, vice president of communication at the Arlington-Mansfield Area YMCA, said she was also looking for a way to continue conversations after the Unity Council presented its final report to City Council in February. Hardy was one of 28 members who spent months exploring disparities affecting residents based on color, age, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability and compiled more than 50 recommendations for equitable city programs and policies.
Hardy said the resources can pose educational opportunities for residents regardless of race, ethnicity or experience with candid conversations about biases, as well as provide a learning mechanism that allows people to learn in a safe space.
“Ultimately, it’s getting them there and getting them there because they have this genuine interest in learning about racial equity, but doing it in a way that doesn’t expose them to confrontation,” she said. “I think this is something that some people really want to do privately.”
Those interested in participating can sign up by visiting 21daychallenge-arlmans.com.