By Alejandra Y. Castillo, YWCA USA CEO
This Saturday, thousands will gather for the March for Racial Justice and the March for Black Women, two marches converging into one to fight for racial equity, to denounce state violence and dismantle all forms of white supremacy. At YWCA, we are committed to eliminating racism by any means necessary and empowering women. As such, we are proud to sponsor these marches and build critical coalitions among organizations that are working at the intersection of race and gender.
Throughout our nation’s history, we know that the fight for racial justice and gender equity is timeless, but today the stakes have certainly been raised. If you are not active by now, you are missing out on your moment in history to be part of a national call to action. People will ask where you were and what you did at this moment in time when our communities were being so aggressively targeted. We cannot allow the current administration to divide us through words and actions that condone police violence, deportation, or any other attack on our communities. Wherever there is injustice, whether in our communities, our government, or our private sectors, our protest must be clear and our work must be in solidarity with one another.
A core priority for YWCA is to address the criminalization of women and girls of color. In the public dialogue that is happening highlighting the issues impacting excessive force and state violence, we see a strong focus on how men and boys are impacted. But we know that women and girls of color experience violence as well. In fact, we see a clear intersection between gender-based violence and police violence. We see it in the experiences of 13 Black women, including Janine Ligon, who survived rape and sexual assault by police Daniel Holtzclaw and Charnesia Corely who too is a survivor. We must say their names. We must honor their stories. For if we do not amplify these experiences, if we do not put women and especially women of color at the center of these conversations, then we too are at fault for hindering the progress of racial equity in this country.
I invite you to join YWCA on September 30 at 9:30 a.m. at Seward Square (the starting point for the March for Black Women) on the corner of North Carolina and Pennsylvania Avenue SE. I am thrilled Monica Gray, CEO of YWCA National Capital Area will speak on behalf of YWCA at the March for Racial Justice. YWCA is a movement built in and for our communities, so I am so glad to see one of our incredibly local leaders take the stage. Sadly, I will not be able to take the stage with her, but I will be there in spirit, cheering her on. I hope you will join Monica and other YWCAs in Washington D.C. or at one of the sister marches around the country. And after the march, I hope you continue to work for change! Here are just a few ways to get involved:
- Get engaged and stay engaged. Even for those who will march on Saturday, one day is simply not enough. We need to keep the volume up.
- Contact your legislators and tell them to support the End Racial and Religious Profiling Act. Tell them that you are a constituent concerned about racial profiling and excessive force. Let them know that you’re also concerned with the way it impacts women and girls.
- Tell your story and amplify other women’s stories. Use social media to amplify and organize.
- Get involved with organizations like YWCA. Support organizations and movements making change.
When women of color lead change, everyone is elevated with us. Join us today.