FAIRFIELD – The city of Fairfield has created a committee to address diversity issues in the community.
The committee goes by the name “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee,” and was inaugurated earlier this year by Fairfield Mayor Connie Boyer. The committee has met three times, and its members are still in the processing of writing a mission statement and planning goals for the group.
Boyer said she was inspired to create the committee by events during the summer when thousands of people took to the streets in cities across the country to protest racial inequality.
“The incident in Minnesota,” Boyer began, referring to the death of George Floyd, “brought out a lot of emotions in people.”
Boyer said she noticed that the city of Lincoln, Neb., had a multicultural committee that looked into housing issues and gave its city council advice. Though Fairfield isn’t quite the size of Lincoln, it does have a diverse population, and Boyer felt that Fairfield could benefit by having a similar committee.
“We want people to feel they belong and are accepted,” Boyer said. “We can’t force people to accept a certain belief, but certainly people should treat each other with dignity and respect no matter what group they’re in.”
Boyer said she spoke to a young man from an Asian country who told her he was bothered by people calling COVID-19 the “China virus.” That’s the kind of problem the diversity committee could address.
Motier Haskins is a social worker at the University of Iowa and a member of the diversity committee. His day job involves giving presentations on cultural competence and anti-racism, which fits with the goals of the new committee. He said the committee members will focus on educating themselves on issues of diversity, and then they hope to serve as a resource for the community.
Ken Malloy, another committee member, said the committee is composed of a wide cross-section of the community including Blacks, Hispanics, single moms, and those who are young, old, married and divorced. Malloy said the committee is just getting off the ground, so he expects it will be more active after its mission statement is completed and the members have had a chance to set goals.
The committee’s original name was the “Multicultural Committee,” but the committee members voted to change it during one of their first couple of meetings.