I talked to Damika Withers at Juneteenth on the Ave.
Why volunteer at Juneteenth on the Ave?
I am volunteering on behalf of the Franklin County Board of Commissioners Office of Diversity Equity and Inclusion. I am the Chief Economic Equity and Inclusion Officer. It is important for me to be here to support my black community. To celebrate what all black people have been through. To support black businesses and vendors. I am glad to be a part of behind the scenes; so, I can enjoy all that Juneteenth on the Ave has to offer. I am honored and pleased to be here.
The commissioners, after declaring racism as a public health crisis and instituting racial equity as a core principle, started a racial equity council that will help initiate diversity, equity, and inclusion of practices within our commissioner’s office. They decided to build and create a diversity, equity, and inclusion office. We are one year in existence. We are working out a strategy to help support our external collaboration with our small and emerging businesses and a strategy that answers how do we put diversity, equity and inclusion as a part of our DNA as an internal organization?
We are supporting the ADAMH (Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Board) Crisis Center. They are building a resource center for those who are suffering from mental illness. We are having workshops to help small and emerging businesses, black owned businesses, women owned businesses, and veteran owned businesses know what they can do to participate as a contractor to build the crisis center. Next month, we will be celebrating National Minority Mental Health month. This morning, we were at the Pride march to celebrate inclusivity. We will be out and about, looking for opportunities to show our faces. We are looking for opportunities to sponsor programs.
How does someone get in contact with you?
We are building our website so you will have to call me at (614) 525-4105. Please visit us on the Franklin County Board of Commissioners Facebook page.
Is there anything that I didn’t ask you that you think I should have asked you? If so, go ahead and answer that question.
Diversity, equity and inclusion is everyone’s responsibility. It’s not just about a race thing or a gender thing. It is about practicing inclusivity and equity for all people. Standing up and voting. The only way to make change. We can’t legislate hearts; but we can legislate rules and policies and programs by voting. Make sure the people you vote for support equitable access. We are not trying to take anything away from anyone. We are just wanting to share what everyone has. It is all of our jobs to lift each other up and make sure that we are using our voice to fight for each other.