There’s a new local effort to counter bigotry and injustice. Its name is a mouthful: Alliance of Leaders Leveraging Involvement to Eradicate Discrimination. In short, it is ALLIED — an acronym and a word that means working together.
All are welcome, with one condition: “The requirement that we have a respectful conversation,” said Janice Greene. She is president of the local NAACP, a chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. “We can agree to disagree, but somewhere in the middle we have to bridge whatever gaps we have,” she said.
Seeds for ALLIED were planted last summer, before the presidential election. An invitation to Saturday’s event, sent out Jan. 4, said the NAACP launched the initiative in July “to proactively address relations between communities of color and local authorities.”
Now, with President Donald Trump in the White House, Greene sees a greater need for diverse groups to work in tandem. The contentious 2016 campaign “stoked the fire,” she said Wednesday. Today’s political climate “seems to be pushing us further and further apart.”
“We’ve seen increases in hate speech, increased divisiveness along racial lines, gender lines, and with immigrants and religion,” said Greene, who works as an economic development and business intelligence strategy leader for Boeing Commercial Airplanes.
As head of the county’s NAACP civil rights group, Greene said she gets calls about racial slurs and equity issues. “What can we do to have a safe community, a welcoming community?” she said.
Invitations to the ALLIED event were sent to Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers, the Everett and Lynnwood police departments, the county Sheriff’s Office, the Tulalip Tribes, Cocoon House, the League of Women Voters, Planned Parenthood, Latino organizations, the Muslim community, human rights and immigrant groups, Greene said.
“We went out pretty broad. It’s open to anyone,” she said.
Greene sees Saturday’s event as the first of many conversations. The goal is to form a community-wide coalition to address social injustice and political divisiveness. “When somebody needs support, we can all show up,” she said.
She has no expectation that a firm plan will come Saturday. Participants were asked in advance about what they see as important issues. “We’ll put them together to get the top ones,” Greene said. Priorities on that list are likely to include equity in education and employment and relationships with police.
“We’re going to have hard conversations and we need to have hard conversations. A lot of this lurks below the surface,” Greene said. She believes the presidential campaign brought to light attitudes many had hoped were ugly relics of the past.
“We all kind of got a wake-up call. People realize there’s going to be a lot of change,” she said. “We’re looking at this as our community — Snohomish County. How do we face all those issues?”
Greene hopes for a big turnout, with people from varied backgrounds.
“We shouldn’t be in our silos. We have different perceptions, but we’re not at war with each other,” she said.
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; firstname.lastname@example.org.
The NAACP of Snohomish County is launching a new effort, ALLIED (Alliance of Leaders Leveraging Involvement to Eradicate Discrimination). A kick-off event is scheduled for 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday at Evergreen Middle School, 7621 Beverly Lane, Everett. Participants will include elected officials, local nonprofit groups and law enforcement. The public is welcome. Information: www.naacp-snoco.org/allied/