August 2022
Stand up, speak out
There's a hundreds-year-old epidemic that we don't talk about enough - the violence against native and indigenous women (MMIW). According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Indigenous women are murdered at a rate ten times higher than the national average. At our most recent table talk, we learned that Native American women comprise the most significant percentage of missing and murdered women in our country. So why are we not talking about it?? Is it due to a lack of education surrounding Native and Indigenous peoples? Is it because we feel that it doesn't directly impact us? The answer: it's both.

Since the beginning of our nation's founding, we have robbed Indigenous women of their humanity. Culturally, Native women are leaders and sacred people. However, American society continues to undervalue and disrespect them, literally and metaphorically, for prosperity and capital gain. Federal law has dramatically impacted how local police jurisdictions respond to the handling of missing Indigenous women. It is very much an "out of sight, out of mind" approach.

If we become educated on issues that affect those other than ourselves and take action when something isn't right, we become better as a nation. The silence when something isn't affecting us is complicity. When German pastor Martin Niemöller looked back on his inaction during the beginnings of Nazism, he said:

First, they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.

Let us all do the work so as not to become complicit.

Join us as we discuss topic ideas for the 2022-2023 Table Talk season!

Friday, August 26, 2022
3:30 PM - 5:00 PM

You must RSVP to Nikki by Friday, August 19th to attend. Location will be provided.

Can't make it in person? Fill out our OTT survey!
We celebrated our award recipients in person this year at our annual Humanitarian Brunch in front of over 250 attendees! It was a beautiful evening spent with the community, honoring the work of these five wonderful individuals!

Humanitarian of the Year: Nancy Williams
Volunteer of the Year: Dr. Bradley Ekwerekwu
Otto Swanson Spirit of Service Award for Partner of the Year: Pamela Duncan
Necessary Trouble: Maddi Intravartolo
Mart Sedky Corporate Leadership Award: Joyce Cooper
This month, we announced our 2022-2023 cohort of LeadDIVERSITY advocates. For the next nine months, this group of leaders will grow both individually and collectively to effect long-term change in DEI work.

Meet our new LeadDIVERSITY advocates!
Adia Brighton, Omaha Public Schools
Alicia Frieze, Council Bluffs Area Chamber of Commerce
Becky Nickerson, Creighton University
Brittney Hodges-Bolkovac, Westside Public Schools
Chastin Bailey, Koley Jessen P.C., L.L.O
Cheryl Murray, Partnership 4 Kids
Chris Stratman, Kiewit Luminarium
Dominique Johnson, Nebraska State Legislature
Elizabeth Blanco Rodriguez, University of Nebraska at Omaha Multicultural Affairs Office
Jamin Johnson, Douglas County Health Department
Jonathan Acosta, University of Nebraska at Omaha
Katie Kodad, Children’s Hospital & Medical Center
Laura Fritz, University of Nebraska Medical Center
Leonor Fuhrer, Nebraska Children and Families Foundation
Loreno Jameson, Omaha Public Power District
Lori Tatreau, Society of St. Vincent de Paul Omaha
Mariana Schelle, Nebraska Children and Families Foundation
Michelle Deseure, Omaha Public Power District
Mo Bailey, Western Organization of Resource Councils
Ralph Kellogg, Lutheran Family Services
Robert Aranda, Westside Community Schools
Rosalva Reyes, Completely KIDS
Rosey Higgs, Nonprofit Association of the Midlands
Stephanie Tafoya Keyser, First National Bank of Omaha
Yesenia Valenzuela, City of Omaha

For more information about LeadDIVERSITY or to learn how to become a sponsor, visit
Celebrate Omaha’s Diverse Community!

From the ashes of the conflict and tragedy of 9/11, United We Walk brings the entire Omaha community together to celebrate our racial, religious, and cultural diversity. Come walk the Walk (FOR FREE) and help us build a community where EVERYONE belongs!

Sunday, September 11, 2022
3:00-6:00 PM
Tri-Faith Center, 13146 Faith Plaza

Grand Marshals:

● Marisa Hattab, DEI Officer for Douglas County
● Roger Garcia, Douglas County Commissioner
● Farhan & Fatima Khan, American Muslim Institute
● Nebraska Senator John & Deb McCollister, Countryside Community Church
● Rabbi Aryeh Azriel, Rabbi Emeritus, Temple Israel
● Preston Love, 4Urban Institute for Urban Development
Questions? Inquiries? Email [email protected]
Previously on Native + Indigenous Table Talk
How to Celebrate Native & Indigenous Cultures without Appropriating
Job Opportunities

Accepting Applications
Reflections of Advocacy and the Thin Silver Line
by Ang R. Bennett
One thousand, three hundred, sixty-eight. That is the number of days that I spent swiping a badge to enter a building in a position that I believed, at the time, to be on the right side of change. When I first stepped into the role of Correctional Officer, I had this novel idea that I could start at the lowest level, work my way up, and enact a system change from within. 
Each day that I buttoned my shirt, laced my boots, and strapped on my duty belt, felt like another day that I was serving the system, not breaching it. In a uniform, you must abide by the policies and procedures set forth by the institution, nothing more. If you have a conversation with an incarcerated person that lasts longer than five minutes, you’re placed under a microscope and watched at all times. Showing concern for someone’s mental health gets shot down with, “They’re probably just going through withdrawal. They’ll be fine.” Prolonged conversations and assisting someone outside of the scope of the duties of the job is immediately seen as unethical and a show of favoritism. 
Bodies placed beyond barbed wires and secure doors are often judged by their worst mistakes. They are not allowed the grace of having too few resources, lack of mental health facilities, defunded public education - failed community systems that say a body is worth more behind bars than on the street.
In Masked Racism: Reflections on the Prison Industrial Complex, Angela Davis states, “Prisons do not disappear problems; they disappear human beings.”[1] She also makes note that “homelessness, unemployment, drug addiction, mental illness, and illiteracy are only a few of the problems that disappear from public view when the human beings contending with them are relegated to cages.”[2]
What does advocacy look like when parameters are put in place for it to fail? For one thousand, three hundred, and sixty-eight days, I watched as funding was pushed for new jails and prisons, finances that paid my salary, while aid for mental health facilities and community resources gradually got stripped away.
Re-entry programming gives the public a feigned sense of relief that these institutions are a place of “rehabilitation” and “corrective behavior.” There are no long-term mental health solutions, no action-based planning around managing addiction, or achievable goal setting. There is no training that allows for a person to adjust to life outside of a six by eight-foot cell.
After one thousand, three hundred and sixty-eight days, I swiped a badge for the final time. Even as a black body, when you are in a blue uniform, your commitment to upholding a standard of respect, fairness, and consistency will always be questioned, and your advocacy untrusted. Abolishing prisons is the ultimate goal. In the meantime, I will continue to nourish the freedom to stand and fight with system-impacted individuals and organizations who are committed to doing the work to dismantle systemic oppression. Everyone deserves to know that they are not the sum of their poorest choices.

[1] Davis, Angela “Masked Racism: Reflections on the Prison Industrial Complex,” ColorLines, September 10, 1998.

[2] Ibid.