A couple days ago, Ibram X. Kendi tweeted “Protest is the heartbeat of humanity. It is the sound of human rights beating to live.”
The demonstrations protesting the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, and so many other Black Americans at the hands of police officers, express the urgent need for justice, and the human right to be heard, seen, valued, and treated with dignity. The demonstration here in Evanston on Sunday was one of many demonstrations around the country, and as
Evanston Fight for Black Lives kicked off from the YWCA parking lot, thousands of people walked through the streets chanting for justice, for an end to racism and white supremacy, and asserting what should be acknowledged by all: Black Lives Matter.
As a white woman running an organization whose primary mission is race and gender equity, I recognize we must get honest about what is happening in our country and the many ways white people and white leaders look away from the pervasive racial inequity and our own white privilege. The ongoing brutality against Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) must end. As CEO I commit to listen more deeply, reflect more critically, lift up the leadership and voices of those impacted by racism and to work in solidarity with others to end racism and white supremacy.
To our Black and Brown colleagues, friends and neighbors, YWCA sees you, hears you, and stands in solidarity to dismantle racism in our communities, criminal justice system, schools, and in all institutions that have been steeped in injustice and racism from the start.
To our white colleagues, friends and neighbors, we have work to do. We need to call out for justice and stand in solidarity, yes, but we need to do so much more. We need to listen to those impacted by racism, center their experience and take actions on solutions informed by them. We must individually and collectively look at our whiteness, name it, and challenge it. This takes courage and this takes building community with others who have a shared commitment to being the generation who finally says, “This stops with us. We will do better.”
As my colleague, Alejandra Y. Castillo, CEO of YWCA USA stated, “Addressing this specific incident alone won’t be enough to prevent future incidents of police violence against Black people, and people of color in America. Our country’s failure to address institutional racism is costing lives. Racism is why coronavirus is killing more people of color than white people. Racism is why police shootings are a leading cause of death for young Black men. Racism is why Black mothers die more frequently in childbirth. Racism has no place in the America we all deserve.”
YWCA is more committed than ever to help dismantle structures that keep racism and white supremacy in place, but we cannot do it alone and we are not the only solution. We are a small piece of what must be a collective outpouring of energy, commitment, fearless action, accountability and persistence. We commit to working at all levels, individually, interpersonally and systemically. This critical work can only achieved by being in deeper community with one another and building trust, telling the truth, and repairing harm.
At YWCA, we demand a world of equity and human dignity, and we will work at all levels, individually, interpersonally, systemically, toward such a world, step by step. Will you join with us?