By Dara Richardson-Heron, M.D.
CEO, YWCA USA
Michael Brown in Ferguson, Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Eric Garner in Staten Island, Yvette Smith in Bastrop, Texas, Aiyana Stanley-Jones in Detroit, Kathryn Johnson in Atlanta, the shooting of three young Muslims in North Carolina. The next few months will determine whether this heart-breaking litany of deaths becomes the catalyst for positive change in our society, or just another chance that passed us by.
Many marched in St. Louis, New York, Washington, DC, and other cities. Many carried signs that said “Black Lives Matter” and “Injustice Anywhere is a Threat to Justice Everywhere.” We all felt the powerful energy of a renewed common desire for racial and social justice.
Now, what is to become of that outrage and that desire to live in a world that fosters peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all?
We at YWCA intend to take a stand to achieve these goals. I invite you to join the YWCA when we Stand Against Racism in Washington DC and around the country April 23-26.
Stand Against Racism grew from the inspired local actions of the YWCAs of Trenton and Princeton, New Jersey in 2007. It quickly spread across the country with over 300,000 participants taking a Stand each year on the last Friday in April. Each year, Stand Against Racism grows in its size and influence. This year, this vitally important initiative became a signature campaign of YWCA USA.
I am delighted to announce that this year we will kick off the campaign with a National Day of Action on Thursday, April 23; Stand Against Racism activities will continue in Washington and around the country through Sunday, April 26.
On April 23, I will lead representatives of local associations to Capitol Hill to press for passage of the End Racial Profiling Act, one of the YWCA USA’s key legislative priorities for the 114th Congress. This legislation would ban racial profiling at the federal, state, and local levels.
Systemic racism is at the core of racial profiling which is why it is a key legislative priority of the YWCA. Our 150 year commitment to racial and social justice and improving the lives of girls and women has led us to this important work. We feel strongly that all individuals, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender should be ensured justice and protected equally under the law.
Our National Day of Action will include issue briefings for lawmakers and their staff where we will highlight the harm racial profiling does to women of color. And, we will share information about how our local associations are working to eliminate all forms of racism, including racial profiling.
In the event that you are not able to come to Washington, D.C. to participate in our events, don’t worry because there are plenty of activities you can engage in right in your own community on the National Day of Action. Issue briefings with local government officials, e-mails to Congress in support of the End Racial Profiling Act, advocacy work in each state’s legislature, and community education are just some of the ideas.
Friday, April 24 through Sunday, April 26 local associations will hold a variety of events to raise awareness and build community around their ongoing work to achieve racial and social justice. There will be opportunities to participate in trainings and dialogues sponsored by the YWCA’s Stand Against Racism, and to seek ways to broaden collaboration with other private and public organizations.
The YWCA has a compelling story to tell about its commitment to social justice. Stand Against Racism is where we will share this story to our wider communities.
Make your commitment to end racism. Join me and YWCA participants across the United States from April 23 to April 26 as we collectively Stand Against Racism. Sign up to take a Stand TODAY.