SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (News4Utah) Salt Lake County leaders and community members took a stand against racism Friday. 

While the county prides itself as being a melting pot of race and ethnicity, activists argue racism remains a problem. 

“When I was a 14-year-old kid, I could feel first racism before I knew it,” Moana Uluave-Hafoka said, who grew up in Glendale. 

Activists say racism can be both overt and subconscious. 

“Sometimes when people say, ‘You talk so articulate’ and say it to a person of color, you want to give the expression, exactly what does that mean? Why would you expect me not to speak well,” Salt lake County Diversity and Inclusion Director Emma Houston said, 

A respectful discussion is the first step to fighting racism.  

“Look at it from a different lens to say, ‘How can I change internally because now my awareness has been raised’,” Houston said.

That discussion took center stage during a packed forum at the Salt Lake County Government building.

“It is every bit of important that people have the ability to be respected for who they are and valued for who they are,” Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams said. 

Organizers said it is important to recognize racism in our community and speak out when we see it.  

“The way to help educate about racism is to get people to understand first. There is a difference between listening and understanding,” activist James Jackson said.