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Talks tackle lack of diversity in county

The 2010 U.S. Census data show Medina County is 92 percent white, and the Medina Diversity Project is seeking to engage the community in an extended discussion on race.

The most recent meeting was Tuesday night at the Medina Library. But of the 14 people in attendance, only one was black.

Organizers said they were hoping for more diversity. So were the participants, whose last names were not used because leaders sought to allow people to express their feelings and experiences openly.

“I would have liked to see a more open dialogue,” participant Janet said.

Three conversations were held in October, and they were considerably more diverse, said one woman who attended the 90-minute conversations.

Kim, who is black, said she has concerns about her brother being racially profiled by police in the county.

She said people have to overcome their ignorance and try to understand why people see things the way they do.

John wondered why there weren’t more participants in the discussions.

John said he believes racial problems will continue until society “makes the other person feel safe” and assure them “you’re not judging them.”

Keith said most people are blind to what he called “white privilege.” He called Medina County a “white ghetto,” which stirred up many of the attendees. He clarified his remarks by saying it’s more about an impoverished spirit than being poor.

Cheryl Parzych, executive director of United Way of Medina County, was in charge of Tuesday’s meeting. She said organizers wanted to keep the meetings small so everyone could share his or her views.

Co-chairs of the Diversity Project, Medina resident Pam Miller and the Rev. Cornell Carter, former pastor at Second Baptist Church in Medina, said the talks are designed to relate individuals’ experiences in the community, to learn how racism affects people, and to look for solutions that can make the community more open to diversity.

Miller is white; Carter is black.

Organizers ask that everyone participates and no one dominates. Everyone is asked to keep an open mind and to listen carefully to others. These are not meant to be gripe sessions, the leaders said.

Other meetings are scheduled for 7 p.m. Nov. 29, Dec. 8 and 12, also at the Medina Library.