Moving Beyond Fear to Building Community

Dubuque has experienced its share of difficulties in the last couple of weeks. Among other things, overflowing homeless shelters, heroin overdose deaths and a cross burning. While we know these kinds of things happen in many other communities across the country, we still lament the fact that they are happening here.

Of course, the all-consuming question for many is, “And what do we do now?”

It’s easy to get caught up in the fear that propels such a question. Examining the number of overdose deaths or the cross burning through the lens of fear can force our attention on all that seems to be wrong in our community. Fear makes it easier to see a multitude of issues we have previously been able to brush under the rug.

Yet in a very different way, our fear can be the catalyst to having some difficult, yet necessary, conversations across differences. Can we use this difficult time in a productive way and as a means to create a more integrated community that works closely together to solve the cultural and social issues that we are currently facing?

As Martin Luther King, Jr. stated during his 1962 visit to Mount Vernon’s Cornell College,

“… I am convinced that men hate each other because they fear each other. They fear each other because they don’t know each other, and they don’t know each other because they don’t communicate with each other, and they don’t communicate with each other because they are separated from each other.”¹

For those of you who would like to have conversations about the cross burning, I’ve compiled some of the comments and suggestions Inclusive Dubuque Network Partners made that may prove helpful to you.

  • Progress is always met with resistance, and must be expected. We are making progress, and this is making people very uncomfortable. It takes time for people to get over their fears; we must be patient, and continue to be steadfast in the equity and inclusion work we are doing in our organizations and the community.
  • While we condemn the extremely visible symbol of racism and prejudice, we must also condemn every non-inclusive act, no matter how small. Our everyday practices matter more than we can imagine, and we must continue to be mindful of our own behavior and beliefs.
  • While most of us do not understand the personal and social implications of racism and prejudice due to our privilege, we must be clear that we are allies with our brothers and sisters who do.
  • The cross burning did not happen in a vacuum. The reality is that there are some very real racial disparities in our community, including lower school achievement, higher unemployment, and unequal housing opportunities.
  • Although we would like to think there is something pressing ‘we can do now,’ many partners have also stated that the work we are all currently doing in our personal lives, neighborhoods, and organizations are long-term solutions to addressing the disparities and differences in our community.

The bottom line is that there is no quick fix. We must continue to work together, support each other, and learn from each other. Together, we make a very real difference.

Many Inclusive Dubuque network partners wrote solidarity or press release statements that we would like to share with you, including the statement Inclusive Dubuque made at the press conference, hosted by the City of Dubuque, the day after the cross burnings occurred.

City of Dubuque Media Briefing Video
City of Dubuque Press Release



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