August 2022
A Chance to Be Heard
Online Survey Explores Local Discrimination

In early April Jim Helbling and Robert Shegog set out to create a survey for the Prescott/Prescott Valley area to gather information on cases of discrimination based on race, gender, sexuality or sexual orientation.

The goal of the survey is to establish the need and propose a non-discrimination ordinance to the Prescott city government. Jim and Robert are inviting all residents to take the survey and share it with friends and family so that they can gather the best possible information for the most representative sample of our hometown.

A retired professor of aerospace engineering who taught at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University for 20 years, Jim Helbling is an active member of the Prescott Martin Luther King Celebration Committee and Prescott Indivisible’s Antiracism group. Jim is currently working with Prescott Unified School District to add lessons in Black history to its middle-school social-studies curriculum.

About the survey, Jim says, “The rise of white-supremacist groups in the Prescott area before the 2020 election prompted me to take action. I saw that twelve Arizona cities (Chandler, Flagstaff, Gilbert, Glendale, Mesa, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Sedona, Tempe, Tolleson, Tucson and Winslow) have passed nondiscrimination ordinances in recent years. I thought it would be a good way for Prescott to counteract the growing white-supremacist presence and keep the hometown atmosphere.”

Retired teacher and wrestling coach Robert Shegog is an active member of the Granite Peak Unitarian Universalist Congregation, where he worked as a guest teacher till the pandemic. He’s also a TED Talk speaker, recently publishing his book Wrestling with the Truth. “I wanted to create this survey because I have experienced discrimination in this area with no way of expressing my feelings. I'm sure there are others with the same story, we need to know that we’re not alone and that together we can create lasting change. I hope that people will become more aware of their words and actions, and how they can leave scars both visible and invisible. I simply wish to create an environment where we will not be judged, but loved and appreciated as unique individuals.”

Five questions

The blind survey, allowing participants to remain anonymous, consists of five simple questions, beginning with the area in which you live.

Next is a question exploring whether you, a loved one or someone close to you has experienced any kind of discrimination during your time in Prescott. Some examples of discrimination are being made to feel unwelcome, subjected to racial slurs, given poor service, or treated unfairly by an employer.

The survey goes on to ask what part of your identity was held against you, whether your race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender expression, religious/spiritual practices, age, or physical/mental health, and whether a nondiscrimination ordinance plays a role in where you decide to spend your time, money or vacation.

Last, they want to hear your stories and opinions about living in the Prescott area, whether it’s how wonderful and inclusive the area is to you, or your stories of experiencing discrimination.

What you can do

The best thing you can do to help is to take the survey and share it with as many people as possible. Whether you agree or disagree with the need for an ordinance, your voice needs to be heard. Click the image at right to reach the survey.

Molly Freibott is Executive Director of Prism Network.

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