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AntiRacism Kentucky coalition formed following demands to end systemic racism

Calling on the community to get involved in different institutions of concern
Co-founders of AntiRacism Kentucky, Terrance Sullivan and OJ Oleka
Co-founders of AntiRacism Kentucky, Terrance Sullivan and OJ Oleka(WBKO)
Updated: Jun. 9, 2020 at 4:54 PM CDT
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - After countless outcries demanding the end to a systemic nation, two Kentuckians are doing something about it.

AntiRacism Kentucky is a newly formed coalition aiming to develop bipartisan policy to eliminate institutional racism within local and state government. The group is being led by OJ Oleka and Terrance Sullivan of Louisville who both met and attended University of Louisville for undergrad.

Anti-racism Kentucky coalition formed following demands to end systematic racism
Anti-racism Kentucky coalition formed following demands to end systematic racism

“Anti-racism is not a partisan idea, we’re all against it, so everybody from every political background ought to be involved,” said Oleka.

Oleka went on to get his MBA and PhD from Bellarmine University while working as Chief of Staff for State Treasurer Allison Ball.

“I look at my daughter who is a month old and see the Nigerian ethnicity in her, her brown skin, and the Filipino and also Appalachian roots in here, I think there’s gotta be a better world for her, so that’s sort of what drives me in too,” said Oleka.

Sullivan, who graduated Louis D. Brandeis School of Law at UofL, said his goal has always been to do something about racism and poverty as this was also his focus in school.

"For me, it's more personal interaction, just the way I had to grow up and the conditions I dealt with, and the things that I faced, I wanted to be part of a solution that we were creating a better way," he said.

Before policies can be formed and presented to the government, AntiRacism Kentucky is asking anyone wanting to get involved to fill out a survey which contains what systems you would want to help focus on.

“People who are already the voices at the table, decide what the policies are going to be. They don’t talk to the people on the ground that is feeling it, they don’t talk to different voices that are just as valid and just as creative,” said Oleka.

"We wanted people to say, okay, what areas are interested in, so not in specific policy ideas, in survey, just to let people put in their information and say I'm very interested in solving this through education policy, or I think I'm interested in working with criminal justice," added Sullivan.

The survey asks those to review institutional racism in the following areas, Agriculture/Food Systems, Criminal Justice System (Juvenile Justice, Due Process, Law Enforcement Reform, etc.), Economic Development (city planning, redlining, federal grants, private investment, etc.), Education (Early Childhood, K-12, and/or Postsecondary), Generational Wealth Building and Financial Literacy (redlining, banking & loans reform, etc.), Health Insurance, Healthcare, and Wellness, Workplace (promotional opportunities, equal pay, industry under-representation, etc.), Housing, Homelessness, and Blight or others.

After participation in the survey, the group is able to form committees for the subjects of concern laid out in the survey. “The survey is allowing us to assign those groups so to speak, so those people can have those conversations, and once we get rolling with those groups and committees they’ll be able to workshop ideas, and then we can do that research so we can present very research-driven policy proposal to policymakers,” said Sullivan.

With interest from elected leaders from across the political spectrum, as well as from law enforcement, these co-founders are feeling hopeful about the future of this coalition.

“We also have members of leadership in the general assembly who have reached out and also statewide elected officials. Of course as we are in the early stages of trying to figure out what the policies are, they’ve asked that we don’t share their names just yet,” said Oleka. “It’s a very heartwarming group of people - people who can make legislation move, people who can really make some change happen, so we’re excited about what all is to come.”

“One of the first people to reach out to our email address was some of the members of law enforcement who were also interested in helping be a part of the solution,” said Sullivan. “And that was very heartwarming to see that there are people in law enforcement who are also seeing that some of the things going on and wanting to be a part of the solution.”

To get involved with AntiRacism Kentucky, fill out the survey here.

“Join our cause. It is absolutely, incredibly important that you sign up and you join AntiRacism Kentucky. I know many people are watching this and might think, this might not be for me, this might not be my fight, but it is your fight because someone in your community could be suffering from something that you don’t even know that has to do with racism. You can play a role in helping their life get better, and if their life gets better, your community gets better,” expressed Oleka.

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