Pounding drums echoed across the campus of American University (AU) on April 11. I ran towards the sound with a friend and a few signs in hand, scrambling to get to the source, the Take Back theNight drummers. In just a few moments, I was marching and chanting in a crowd of at least 100 students as we followed a group of women expertly pounding out catchy rhythms on their drums. Flashing blue lights bathed the group every few minutes from a police cruiser that was leading us in our circular path around campus. I danced and chanted until I was hoarse and tired, feeling like there was nothing that couldn’t be accomplished with a well-organized group of determined women.
In our latest student blog post as part of this year’s Stand Against Racism, Jessica Morgan shares her thoughts on voice and activism, and her struggle with shyness and identity while navigating social and cultural spaces:
Lights, camera, action. The spotlight gleams down on me. What do I say?
There are some things to be said about residing in a city. Namely, the diversity of citizens in a city. In a town on the smaller side, it becomes increasingly easy to notice diversity. My town is prevailingly white. Not completely, of course, but there’s a lack of minorities, particularly of Asians. I can count the number of Asians in my grade on one hand, while the number of white students in only one class outnumbers us. Which, by itself, is all fine and well. The real problem is being mistaken for the wrong Asian.
At the end of February, YWCA USA did a call for for blog submissions from young women and girls of color under age 21 as part of our 2016 Stand Against Racism campaign, which is themed “On a Mission for Girls of Color.” We received a number of wonderful submissions, and by featuring some of these stories, we hope to both give these young writers a platform for expression and sharing, and to highlight and illuminate some of the unique issues facing girls of color in our country today. Below, Adriana Rodriguez shares her story:
We’ve been asked why we’re focusing on girls of color this year for our annual Stand Against Racism campaign. In short, this is why. The above video shows a San Antonio school district police officer violently lifting a 12-year-old girl into the air and slamming her to the ground. To be clear, the job of a police officer in schools is to help keep students safe – but that can’t happen when students are cast as criminals on the basis of skin color.
The annual federal budget process kicked off on February 9 when President Obama released his Fiscal Year 2017 (FY 2017) federal funding proposal. The “president’s budget,” as it is commonly referred to, is the opening step in an annual federal budget process that typically also involves passage of budget resolutions in the House and Senate, budget hearings in House and Senate appropriations committees, and ultimately the passage of an operating budget by the October 1 start of the federal government’s fiscal year.
YWCA helps over 2 million of women and families each year in a variety of community programs including youth services. Below, Blessings Hill, who participated in the Teen Services Program at YWCA Rochester & Monroe County, shares her story.
I have been involved in YWCA’s Teen Services Program since I was 15 years old, when I became pregnant with my first child. More than 7 years later, YWCA is still an important part of my life.
Casey Harden, Senior Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and Membership for YWCA USA
By Casey Harden
Lady Gaga’s performance at the Oscars elevated the experiences of victims of sexual assault and moved millions to tears — including me. I immediately posted a link to the performance on Facebook, with the caption “Sexual abuse and violence is an epidemic — mostly silent and always sinister.”
But as I wrote those words, I became aware that sexual abuse only seems “silent” to me because I have spent the majority of my life in the United States — in other parts of the world the sexual victimization of women and girls is spoken of as easily as the weather, and often taken no more seriously.
YWCA helps over 500,000 survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault every year.
In February of 2002, I had left my abusive partner and was living on my own with my two teenage daughters in a motel. I was working overnights for the Department of Transportation and struggling to do it all on my own. It was hard, it was isolating, and it was a scary time. My ex-partner was stalking me, and I had to lock my daughters in the hotel room at night, instructing them to call 911 if he ever came there.
YWCA USA is now accepting blog submissions from young women and girls of color under 21 as part of our 2016 Stand Against Racism campaign. Throughout the campaign, which is themed “On a Mission for Girls of Color,” we will highlight issues that impact girls of color such as racial profiling in school, access to safe play, and healthcare.
Want to share your story? Send submissions of 700 words or less by March 31 to firstname.lastname@example.org. If your submission is selected, we’ll feature it on YWCA USA’s blog and share it on our social media channels.