Polarization between groups of different religions, races, and/or ethnicities has grown in the United States. This polarization inhibits open and honest discussions about the presence of racial or other forms of discrimination. To initiate needed discussions of these topics, CIOGC brought representatives of Muslim ARC, a national nonprofit organization that facilitates open dialogue on discrimination. Over several workshops Muslim ARC lead community members in discussions about recognizing bias and providing techniques to remedy negative behaviors.
With recognition comes the responsibility to correct or change offensive behavior. Often inequalities are embedded in public policies. One example is our advocacy for increased access to mental health services. Lack of mental health services is a significant problem in marginalized communities. One Illinois legislative proposal, Senate bill 471, made it mandatory for insurers to provide mental health coverage to those it insures. Through its civic engagement network, CIOGC encouraged members to contact their local representative and to sign witness slips supporting the passage of this bill. The bill was passed and signed into law this summer. Another Illinois legislative proposal the CIOGC advocated for during IMAD, was the amendment to the Criminal Code that expands the definition of a hate crime to include bias acts or speech related to immigration or citizenship status (Senate Bill 1596). This bill passed into law this summer, is an example where collaboration with other grass roots organizations can bring change to laws that disproportionately affect marginalized communities.