Wheeling Human Rights Commission to Host ACLU Implicit Bias Training

Wheeling Human Rights Commission member Diana Bell speaks to Rosemary Ketchum during the body’s meeting Tuesday.

The city’s Human Rights Commission plans to host a training session through the American Civil Liberties Union to teach people about implicit bias and racism.

Commissioners approved a motion Tuesday to invite the ACLU of West Virginia to host its Implicit Bias and Confronting Bigotry Training in Wheeling for the first time at no cost to the city.

“It changed my life and my perception of myself,” said Chairman Frank Calabrese, who attended an ACLU training in Charleston. “I, for one, would like to see the Wheeling Human Rights Commission host another program. … I look forward to learning together.”

The idea to host the training was brought up by commissioner Rosemary Ketchum, who along with Calabrese serves on the ACLU of West Virginia’s board. Ketchum said the hour-long, informal training session teaches people about unintentional bias toward race, religion and sexual orientation.

The commission will next determine when and where to hold the free training. According to the ACLU’s website, the program focuses on the “origin of implicit bias and its impact on systems and society, the cycle of bias and racism and how we can address and confront bias and bigotry.”

The body previously held a mental health “first aid” training with the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Greater Wheeling in May, which was attended by 24 people, including six commissioners. The commission spent $720 to put on the event, said Melissa Thompson, community development specialist.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, commissioners decided to change the body’s meeting time from noon to 8:30 a.m. to better accommodate members’ schedules.

The issue arose after the commission didn’t meet in May and June due to lack of a quorum.

The commission further approved donating $500 to sponsor YWCA Wheeling’s Around the World Dinner in a 6-1 vote, with commissioner Rita Gupta dissenting. The event, set for 6 p.m. Friday at the Wheeling Park Ice Rink, will feature multicultural food and music from across the Ohio Valley.

In addition, the commission approved spending $500 to distribute insulated lunch bags to children heading back to school at the Celebrate Youth Festival, to be held by Youth Services System Aug. 1 at Wheeling Park.

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