At the April meeting of the Women’s Policy Forum, four women representing the Multicultural Alliance of Fort Worth, explained the organization’s programs designed to build inclusive communities, mainly through interfaith initiatives.
In a wide-ranging discussion titled “The Road Starts Here: Building Inclusive Communities " four panelists emphasized that respect is key to healthy, successful organizations, businesses, communities and world security.
Dr. Cheryl Kimberling, President of The Multicultural Alliance of Fort Worth, led the panel discussion about eliminating bias and opening the door to mutual understanding and respect in our increasingly diverse community. Other members of the panel were: Jackie Bzostek, Glenda Thompson, Dr. Asra Khan and Adena Cytron-Walker.
Jackie Bzostek, an Alliance board member, helped begin Camp CommUNITY, a six-week long discussion group for high school students. She said the experience prompted a Christian member to say: “You consider what I have to say, and you let me share.” A Muslim participant commented: “You are the first Jewish person I’ve ever interacted with.”
Adena Cytron-Walker, who works with Camp CommUNITY and People’s Art Collaborative, says the Alliance’s programs allow reflection and dialogue on critical issues and world affairs that impact everyone. The People’s Art Collaborative creates art for all levels and prompts dialogue about it, while Camp CommUNITY focuses on all prejudice, including what people learn about it and what we do about it.
Glenda Thompson, who leads Jubilee Theater, said the topics and program helped her recalibrate her “innate passion for listening, accepting and appreciation.”
Dr. Asra Khan, who represented the Daughters of Abraham group, an organization founded after 9/11 for Christian, Jewish and Muslim women, as well as other faiths, described the purpose of Daughters of Abraham, which meets monthly in the Mid-Cities, Fort Worth and Dallas at a place of worship. No political discussions or proselytizing are allowed. The conversation is centered on spirituality, prayer, role of women and world affairs.
The Fort Worth Multicultural Alliance is an independent group founded in 2006. Originally a chapter of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, the Alliance separated from the national organization in 2006. The Fort Worth Chapter of The Multicultural Alliance was founded in 1951 to build better relationships between Catholics, Protestants and Jews. The Alliance has worked to develop training for organizations to encourage inclusiveness. One recent project was post-Rainbow Lounge raid training for first responders. Sessions are tailored for each organization’s needs.