Dayton Human Relations Council

Reflections On What It Means To Be Welcoming

By Rachel Peric, Executive Director of Welcoming America

Over the past months, the gap between our aspirations for democracy and the reality of racism and its tragic effects have never been more stark.  

As we celebrated the Fourth of July here in the U.S., I wished instead of fireworks that this piece by Isabel Wilkerson could light up the night sky and find a watchful crowd everywhere nodding their heads saying, “yes, I see it now.”  

If something can be made of this moment, it’s that we’ve been given the chance to peel back the layers to reveal the utterly fabricated hierarchy of human value that is the source of so much suffering. We recognize that if such a thing can be created, it can not only be undone, but replaced with something better. This is the task that lies ahead—to create a healthier society, one in which all belong and can thrive. 

It’s worth reflecting in this moment on the definition of a welcoming community. In the 10 years of doing this work, I have never seen so many leaders using the term: from local elected officials rebuking racist norms, to college and business leaders calling for more inclusive campuses and workplaces, to women of faith calling for their retirement community to disavow itself of white supremacists.

In fact, I believe we’re at a tipping point.

But that tipping point will only be a meaningful one if we continue to push the boundaries of what it means to be a truly welcoming community—not only in word, but in deed.

In the coming months, we will be looking to you to help us revisit the standard by which we define a welcoming community—the Welcoming Standard—as we continue to deepen its meaning and impact. In the coming months, we will ask the public, our Welcoming Network members, and partners to weigh in on what underpins a welcoming community. We hope you will take part in that process. 

In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you about what you are seeing in your own community and what being welcoming means to you, especially in this moment.

I’d also like to share some of what we know already makes for successful welcoming efforts, recognizing that all of us are at different points in our journey to see this work through. What matters is that each of us has the power to be influential in seeing these principles come to life—no matter where we start, or how far we are able to bring others with us. Please read more here about what successful welcoming efforts seek to achieve. 
Lastly, we’re excited to be gearing up for Welcoming Week. We know it will look a little different this year, but it will be a critical moment to show the world what a successful multi-racial democracy can look like in practice. We hope you’ll join us in “Creating Home Together”.

As we face new challenges, we also celebrate the extraordinary leadership we see every day as beacons of hope and inspiration for what the future can hold, no matter what the past has wrought. 

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