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Local organization campaigning for racial equality and justice

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Our Culture is Beautiful co-founders Effie Mwando and Angaza Mwando via the organization
Our Culture is Beautiful co-founders Effie Mwando and Angaza Mwando via the organization’s Facebook page.

TORRINGTON — Residents Angaza Mwando and Effie Mwando are the founders of the Our Culture is Beautiful organization.
The organization advocates increasing awareness of cultural diversity in cities and towns, including in the Northwest Corner.
Recently the organization has started three new campaigns that center on racial equality and justice.
Both of them want the city to declare racism as a public health crisis in Torrington and other towns in the Northwest Corner.
This year, in light of the killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota, other towns and cities, including New Haven, Windsor, Hartford, Bloomfield, New Britain, West Hartford, Manchester, and Windham all approved resolutions declaring racism as a public health crisis.
“It’s coming around in terms of letting people know that because of the systemic racism and the different things that have happened over the years, how it has affected the mental health, physical health of Black people,” Angaza Mwando said. “Black people have suffered from high blood pressure, diabetes, all of these different illnesses that have come from the discomfort level of that stress. It is associated with the injustices of not knowing or not being able to deal with different situations. because situations happen. It shouldn’t happen. Like sometimes being stopped by the police just because of the color of your skin, or when you are discriminated against when you apply for a job.”
“We want Torrington and towns in the Northwest Corner to join in with other communities that have declared racism as a public health crisis,” Effie Mwando said. “We know through studies that when some individuals deal with racism, they suppress their emotions and feelings. We know through studies that if you continue to suppress your negative emotions, it has an impact on your health. You start to have stomach problems, you’re impacting your liver, and sometimes other things happen. Then people start eating more because they are depressed. All because a person may feel that I’m tired of being ignored and not listened to.”
The second campaign the organization is working on is to have a “Black Lives Matter” mural painted either on a wall or road in Torrington, similar to the mural painted in downtown Hartford on Trinity Street.
“We’re looking for a public and open space place so it’s visible for people,” Angaza Mwando said. “We want people to walk and see it, so that’s why ideally we would like to have the mural on Franklin Street.”
“With this election going on, along with this COVID pandemic, we don’t want people to forget that racism and discrimination are still going on,” Effie Mwando said. “With Senator Kamala Harris running as the Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate, we have seen all of this negativity being used to put her down because of her cultural background. That already lets you know that discrimination and a little bit of negativity because of a woman, because of her color, educational background, and culture. We don’t want that to be forgotten and be put on the back burner again. That’s why we are suggesting Torrington and other towns, including Winsted, have some type of Black Lives Matter mural.”
The third campaign the organization is undertaking is for cities and towns in the Northwest Corner to have educational programs for minorities to become members of their municipal governments.
“We want people to become in their municipal governments because we want young minorities to know that these opportunities to serve are all available to them,” Angaza Mwando said. “We’ve been ostracized from municipal governments for so long that we feel it needs to be opened up.”
“When you look at the governments of many cities and towns, you will notice that it is not always diversified,” Effie Mwando said. “We want it so that no matter what town or city you are in that it embraces you, no matter your race or culture. Whether you are an African-American, West Indian, Mexican, or from Puerto Rico, you are accepted as an individual.”
For more information on Our Culture is Beautiful go to https://www.facebook.com/Our-Culture-is-Beautiful-2399879000241046/

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