Racial Equality month to conclude with a potluck

Organizations worked to spread awareness about racial equality


JESSICA HARJA | The Daily Evergreen

Ken Faunce, Moscow Human Rights Commission chairman, talks about how food brings people together, and this potluck is a chance to mingle with strangers.

NINA WILLIS, Evergreen reporter

While promoting inclusiveness through food, Moscow’s Racial Equality month ends with a community potluck to encourage diversity acceptance within the area.

The Moscow Human Rights Commission and the Latah County Human Rights Task Force sponsored a series of community events throughout September. They strive to spread awareness about racial diversity, Ken Faunce, Moscow Human Rights Commission chairman, said.

The potluck makes up the last event of the month, Faunce said. The commission thought food would represent the best way to end the month.

“Everyone shares as much as they’re able,” Faunce said. “Instead of just showing up and somebody just provides you food, you develop a bond. You mingle around, sit with people you don’t know and chat.”

The commission will also provide a few dishes, but encourages every guest to bring a dish to share, Faunce said. Mela, a Bangladeshi catering service, will provide a few dishes as well.

They also ask that the dishes do not include pork or peanuts, Faunce said. The pork restriction caters to Muslim and Jewish communities, while peanuts make up one of the most common allergies.

Guests can bring gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian dishes, but the commission cannot guarantee those will be provided at the potluck, Faunce said. While they will try to be as inclusive as possible, they cannot cater to every dietary restriction because everyone has individual needs.

With Racial Equality month, the commission and task force hope to promote togetherness in this potluck, Faunce said. And to bring people together through their common interests, such as school, life and taking care of their families.

“We’ve found that you hate people less once you get to know them,” Faunce said. “Once you get to know them, you’re like ‘there’s nothing wrong with them.’ ”

Unlike previous years, which condensed the diversity-themed events over the course of a week, the two groups devoted the entire month to spreading awareness about racial equality, said Joann Muneta, Human Rights Task Force founding member.

The Moscow commission officially represents the city of Moscow through representatives appointed by the mayor, while the Latah County Task Force is a grassroots organization anyone can work for, Muneta said. Both groups worked closely together for Racial Equality month.

The task force and commission decide on a central theme every year, Muneta said. This September, they chose “refugees” because of the current world issues.

The status of refugees marks an important issue internationally, and for Idaho specifically, Muneta said. Many people want to know more about it, like the difference between refugees and immigrants, or the life of said immigrants here.

“We hope to get people thinking and learning, basing their opinions on education rather than just an emotional response,” Muneta said. “The idea of a potluck is to have people come together to enjoy a meal, which is a good way to overcome barriers.”

The Racial Equality and Inclusive Community potluck takes place at 7 p.m. Saturday at the 1912 Center in Moscow. This event is free, but guests are encouraged to bring a dish.