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State of Equity Report in Cedar Rapids

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28)--The Civil Rights Commission released a "State of Equity in Cedar Rapids" report.

The report is a snapshot of racial, ethnic, gender and sex disproportions in the city.
The information was released at a summit geared towards finding way to make the city more balanced.

"Because we don't speak English we just die poor."

These are the faces you rarely see in Cedar Rapids, but they are here: African immigrants looking for a better life. Problem is they've yet to find it.

"We sometimes get left out on things that other people regularly get but we don't get that, because we don't speak their language, said Siliro Simbaluhje.

Siliro Simbaluhije and Minani Anania are both from Burundi.

Minani says he and his family moved here to escape war in his hometown. Since then it's been a struggle.

"The progress for people of color is really low, said Minani.

"We're happy but sometimes, we're not very happy, said Siliro

That's what Wednesdays summit was about, bringing organizations and members of the community together to have authentic conversations about why.

An example is why we have so many black men incarcerated in our community and why so many youth are being arrested, said John-Paul Chaisson-Cardenas, executive director of the Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission.

Those are some of the problems highlighted in the report.

It looks into issues in housing and gaps in education between white people and people of color in Cedar Rapids.

"What the report is looking at is who's being left out. And what we found is especially youth of color and women to a certain extent are being left out of the picture, Chaission-Cardenas said.

It's also a starting point to finding solutions.

"If we can't talk to each other, then we can't get to solving any of the problems, said Chad Simmons, Executive Director at Diversity Focus.

"I would like to see people of color really progressing and prospering in terms of education, health and housing, said Minani.

Silirio says a big step to make that happen would be help in translation, making sure everyone can communicate together.

"We would like to request the city and the government to really try and help us in that area, he said.

More than 400 people came out for today's summit and 60 organizations throughout the community contributed to the results of the equity report.

Heres a link to the report.
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