Evanston/North Shore

In Other Words

Six ways to help someone in an abusive relationship

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and research shows that at least 60 percent of us know a victim of domestic abuse. But what can we do to help? Sandy T. Williams, domestic violence residential and community services director at YWCA Evanston/North Shore, offered these suggestions:

  1. Listen. If someone is confiding in you, resist the urge to have all the answers. Validate your friend’s feelings. Don’t judge. She may already be feeling shame and embarrassment. 
  2. Be careful about the words you use. If you are approaching someone because you suspect abuse, you might say, “I’ve noticed you’ve been injured recently” or “I’m concerned about you.” Do not speak negatively about the abuser.
  3. Focus on the victim, not the abuser. Help the victim reflect on the power and control she has and reinforce that the abuse is not her fault. Don’t tell the victim she has to leave the relationship immediately. “What we know about domestic violence is that the person may still love the abuser,” said Williams. “In addition, leaving can be one of the most dangerous times for the victim.”
  4. Recognize that every domestic violence situation is unique. Your friend’s situation may be different from others you have known, including your own. “It’s important to recognize that each person is an expert in her own experience,” said Williams. “It’s also important to recognize that everyone has her own timetable to take back her power and control and make her own decisions.”
  5. Gather resources and talk about safety planning. If your friend recognizes that she’s in an abusive situation (and this can take time), you can help her develop a plan. “Gather resources first, then give the person the information if she’s ready,” said Williams. YWCA Evanston/North Shore is a good place to start. It offers a 24-hour crisis line: 877-718-1868.
  6. Remember that solutions take time. It can be frustrating, but you don’t want to be another person attempting to exert power and control over the victim. She needs to find it within herself. According to Williams, it can take seven to thirteen attempts at leaving before it really takes hold.

YWCA Evanston/North Shore, one of the only providers of comprehensive domestic violence services in north suburban Cook County, is one of hundreds of providers nationwide to participate in the Allstate Purple Purse Challenge, an all-out effort during the month of October to raise awareness about domestic violence and funds for services.

You can help YWCA Evanston/North Shore win the challenge, and receive an additional $100,000 grant from Allstate Foundation, with your donation to the cause. Make your donation today at www.bit.ly/YWPurplePurse2017.

With liberty and justice for all

by Eileen Hogan Heineman, Director, Racial Justice Program
Posted June 29, 2017

As our country heads into 4th of July celebrations, I am very concerned. To be honest, I am angry. The phrase “with liberty and justice for all” keeps running through my head.

As I write this, our state is on the precipice of entering its third year without a budget. Why? Mostly because two men in positions of power, Governor Rauner and Speaker Madigan, 1) refuse to compromise; 2) get away with it because other elected officials are afraid to stand up to them; and 3) are so disconnected from people who are most impacted by their stubborn impasse that they can ignore the jobs that have been lost, the agencies that provided critical services that have closed, the programs that have been cut, and the thousands of Illinois residents who have been negatively impacted about what has been done, among them our most vulnerable citizens. I’d like to see what the human cost is across the state of Illinois.

How many...

  • social service agencies have closed?
  • agencies, like YWCA Evanston/North Shore, have had to lay off valued staff members?
  • women and children experiencing domestic violence no longer have access to a counselor or safe housing?
  • elementary school students no longer have a safe after school program to attend?
  • people with mental health issues have had their services cut?
  • children no longer have access to early childhood education?

Most of those directly affected by the lack of a budget are the same people who are regularly marginalized by those in power. Is this justice for all?

I am concerned about the messages our young people are getting, every single day, about how things work in the United States: bullies can wear the disguise of leaders; white supremacists can disguise themselves as patriots; victims can be blamed when the system fails them and good-hearted people can be disheartened, or even silenced.  

This 4th of July is an opportune time to raise questions and change the narrative. It is the duty of every one of us to continue to work for a “more perfect union” and fight to ensure that our “beloved community” is inclusive of all. So raise the tough questions, contact legislators daily, talk with your family, neighbors, friends until “With liberty and justice for all” is the real narrative for the United States of America.

What can you do today?

by Sherialyn Byrdsong (Remarks made at Race Against Hate, June 18, 2017)
Posted June 23, 2017

Good morning. Thank you for beginning your Father's Day with the 18th annual Ricky Byrdsong Memorial Race Against Hate.

As you all know, my husband was gunned down a couple of miles from here in Skokie by a white supremacist while he was jogging with our two youngest children. Today, 18 years later, such horrific acts of hate are intensifying and occurring too frequently. They constantly remind us of the relevance of this race. The week before the race in 2015 it was the Emanuel AME Church nine. The week before the race of last year it was 49 people killed in the Orlando night club and earlier this week, if not for the heroic acts of two capitol police officers, there would have been a massacre of some of our congressman. I fear that this culture of hatred and gun violence is our new America. I fear that this has become our new normal. Instead of families enjoying the American dream, too many families are experiencing the American nightmare.

I believe that each of us has a civic and faith based responsibility to lead our communities in a different direction. Every morning when we wake up, each one of us should ask ourselves, "What can I do today to make the world around me a more kinder, respectful, peaceful, understanding and loving place? What's my responsibility in this race against hate?" Our nation is crying out for answers. 

I appreciate so much people like Karen Singer, Eileen Heineman and the entire staff of the YWCA Evanston/North Shore who every day do their part. Their work is making a difference in this community and they are relentless and true to their mission to eliminate racism. Your support of this race helps to make that happen. So please join me in giving the YWCA Evanston/North Shore and yourselves a round of applause for doing your part to make our communities a better, safer and more loving place to live.

That you so much. God bless you and God bless America. I look forward to seeing you next year!

Turning tragedy into triumph

by Karen Singer
Posted June 23, 2017 (Remarks made at Race Against Hate, June 18, 2017)

Promoting civil rights and racial justice are at the heart of the YW’s mission. For 18 years, the Race Against Hate has brought together thousands of people from across our region to send a powerful message that we are united in our commitment to end racism, hate and intolerance throughout our communities.

Unfortunately, we are reminded daily that crimes motivated by racial hatred, religious and political intolerance continue, and have actually risen over 20% since the year began. And on a daily basis, people are denied their basic human rights because of their race, gender, religion or sexual identity. We must continue to make progress safeguarding these rights, which is even more challenging in a broader environment of hate mongering and fear. It is up to ALL of us to continue and increase our efforts to create equitable communities.

Before you leave today, please visit the YWCA tent in the middle of the field to see what you can do to join us as we work towards equity and justice for all.

As most of you know, the Byrdsong Family created this race to honor Ricky Byrdsong, husband and father of three who was killed by a white supremacist in Skokie on a June day like this 19 years ago. Their courage in creating the Race, and their confidence in giving the Race to YWCA Evanston North Shore, has helped bring our community together year after year and, as Sherialyn Byrdsong has said, turn tragedy into triumph.

Evanston Men Challenged to Stand Up Against Domestic Violence

Evanston Roundtable editorial
May 4, 2017

We are living in an age of overt misogyny. Our culture is suffused with talk, music, literature, drama, and politics that demean or diminish women and at times applaud or advocate violence against women.

This is not new. For centuries – maybe even millennia – violence against women has been a theme of secular and religious stories. And, while there have always been excuses, there has never been a justification.

Evanston is not exempt. The Evanston Police Department reports that in 2015 there were 347 domestic batteries in Evanston, 113 domestic-related assaults or criminal trespasses, and 111 cases in which orders of protection were entered. There were also 991 domestic conflicts that did not rise to the level of criminal conduct, according to the Police Department.

Men are finally waking up to the notion that they can do something other than a) snicker in public at denigrating comments or so-called jokes or even repeat them in private, b) continue to blame the victims of domestic violence, or c) wring their hands. They made this mess, and it is time for them to step up. And in Evanston, some already have.

Late last month, the YWCA-Evanston/North Shore offered that opportunity to more than 180 male civic, business, and political leaders in this community, bringing them together to hear Jackson Katz, Ph.D. Dr. Katz, founder of Mentors in Violence Protection, challenges men to take an active leadership role in ending violence against women. He calls this the "bystander" model. It brings men who are not abusive into an active role.

Karen Singer, president and CEO of YWCA Evanston/North Shore, articulated some questions for the audience to ponder about the systemic causes of gender violence, such as how certain institutions produce abusive men and the roles that popular culture, sports, economics, and other societal forces play in this ongoing plague. Until men are involved in the solution, she said, the problem will continue.

Abusing people as an adult, teen or youth, is a learned – and, too often, fostered, condoned, or even glorified – behavior.

This is where non-abusive men can step in, assume a leadership role and interrupt the cycle: among peers, by verbally rejecting sexist or degrading comments; as church leaders, coaches, or scout leaders, by showing that respect and understanding are stronger than violence and aggression; and as individuals, by acting as leavening in the community to create a climate where violence is unacceptable.

We all have to play a part in changing the notion that violence against women is a cultural norm and basically women’s fault. Dr. Katz said we as a society must shift the focus from asking why the victim did certain things – wear that dress, return to an abusive partner – to the real questions of why that man beat that woman, why so many men rape women, and what roles some of our cultural institutions play in condoning or fostering domestic violence.

Ms. Singer and the YWCA Evanston/North Shore set the table, and 180 men came to dinner. The next steps involve evaluating feedback from the dinner and following up with men who will help create an Evanston model, and enlisting men to become leaders in ending violence against women.

Ms. Singer put it well: "We need more men with the guts, with the courage, with the strength, with the moral integrity to break our complicit silence and challenge each other and stand with women, and not against them."

We wholeheartedly support these efforts. Like everywhere else, Evanston could benefit from active bystanders in its effort to stem the public health problem of domestic violence.

Involving the men who are already at the table in creating the model is essential, as the YWCA has said. It is a giant and much-needed step in addressing this unconscionable public health problem.

Men taking a stand

by Karen Singer, President/CEO
Posted May 4, 2017

Karen Singer at the Men's Dinner, with Evanston Mayor Elect Steve Hagerty and Evanston Deputy Chief James Pickett.

As many of you know, the YWCA Evanston/North Shore has, over the last 30 years, developed a comprehensive continuum of services that help women get safe, stay safe and heal from domestic violence. What many of you might not know is that long ago we realized that while we can help women leave abusive situations and build sustainable healthy lives, this does not help men stop abusive behaviors. And so we have also been working with men and boys for over 20 years through our violence prevention education in local schools and universities and more recently with our Batterer’s Intervention Program, a program working with abusers, and Allied Against Violence, a program partnership with Youth & Opportunity United that works to engage young men and boys in ending gender violence.

I started working with women fleeing domestic violence in the early 80s, almost 35 years ago. A decade earlier the feminist movement had given rise to the mantra “we will not be beaten.” Formerly abused women launched the domestic violence movement in the 70’s, to expose domestic violence, and reduce the shame, stigma and silence that women were experiencing. They also worked to bring domestic violence out from behind the veil of being a private family matter, something that just happened behind closed doors. The DV movement has historically focused on women because women are the primary victims. This was an appropriate response given the shame and silence of the issue, and the immediate need of helping women escape violence. 

As the movement grew, it expanded its focus from helping individual women to trying to change the systems that in some ways condoned, or at a minimum turned a blind eye to the violence. We began to demand legislative and system changes to hold perpetrators accountable for their crimes and make it easier and safer for women to leave. The emergence of batterer’s intervention groups was a recognition that if we were going to end gender violence, it was men that needed to change. As importantly, the broad social norms that reinforced and perpetuated its acceptance needed to change.

So fast forward three and a half decades and here we are.

Yes, some gains have been made, but not fast enough and most certainly not deeply enough. Violence against women is still with us and continues to be what many consider one of the largest public health crisis we face. The statistics are staggering. Suffice it to say, after decades of efforts from women and women’s organizations, gender violence continues to take place across our globe, affecting women from all different backgrounds, socio economic classes, ages and religions. 

And this violence doesn’t just happen to “other women”. I would venture to say that many of you know of someone it has affected. In fact, it can and does impact those we know; it effects our sisters, daughters, mothers, grandmothers, aunts, friends, neighbors, coworkers. And the vast majority of this abuse is perpetrated by men.   

With the rise of violence prevention efforts has come the realization that men are untapped and necessary allies in this struggle. As most abusers are men, men can be the best influencers of other men.

As men, you continue to hold a majority of the powerful, influential positions that determine how we respond to gender violence. If you are a legislator, a hospital administrator, a businessman, if you are a police chief or superintendent, a judge, a prosecutor, a journalist or coach, you make decisions each day that determine how we respond to gender violence.

And you all of you are in relationship to women and girls in so many different ways. So you really have a vested interested in preventing this from happening in the first place. The critical role that men can play in ending gender violence benefits women and girls. It benefits men and boys as well. 

I heard an interview several years ago and it stuck with me. The sheriff being interviewed said that every male death row inmate in his state had experienced violence in their home as a child. We know that children growing up with domestic violence are 3 times more likely to repeat the cycle in adulthood. It is, in fact, the most significant predictor of whether or not someone will be engaged in domestic violence later in life, and also makes you 74% more likely to commit a violent crime against someone else.

So when a man stands against gender violence, he not only changes the life of women, he can change the life of a child. When a boy hears from men in his life that “being a man” is about love, strength, and kindness, not aggression, that changes him.

So we gather as colleagues, friends, leaders in our community, to listen, understand more deeply, and hold ourselves and each other accountable to the idea that violence against women is not just a women's issue, it is a human issue. I encourage you to listen for what is new to you, be curious, let yourself be challenged. Domestic violence is personal. Many of you have witnessed it, experienced it, and have struggled to know how to respond. We come to this conversation to learn, to share, to grow, and to see how, as a community, we can create safety for all those we love.

Take a moment

by Eileen Hogan Heineman, Director of Racial Justice Programs
Posted February 17, 2017

Take a moment to look around this crowded room and breathe in how good it is to be with people who share our beliefs, our fears, our hopes. Be strengthened by that as you ask yourself, what will I do now?

For those who are feeling overwhelmed and/or sad, you’re in good company. 

For those who are eager to be given something tangible to do, to feel like you can make a difference, you’ve got lots of allies in this room as well.

For those whose lives are already too busy, look around again, and take another breath. You are NOT alone…there are many of us to do this work, so no one of us has to do it all, nor do it every day, nor ever do it alone. I believe we can count on each other to step up when we need to step back, because we are all here for the long haul. Am I right??

Every single one of us has a role to play in addressing the growing inequities. At an MLK Day Celebration, Evanston Alderwoman Dolores Holmes said, “We each need to determine what is our part, and then do our part with great heart.” And that is what we are about right now. We each have a part to play, whether this is the first time we’ve become active or have protested for years. 

At the end of our YWCA Racial Justice workshops, I ask participants: “Given what you’ve learned and felt here, what do you now feel compelled to do?” Today, I encourage you to think about the things you’ve said you believe in and the things you will resist, and I ask, what do you feel compelled to do? And, of course, I have some suggestions to get you started:

  • Is there something you need to learn? Is there someone with whom you need to share real information you have learned? Here are some resources to get you started.
  • Do you need to dedicate a day to go to Springfield with others to speak with legislators about bills they should support? 
  • Do you need to invite your neighbors in for coffee and conversation, asking what, together, you will do to support those in your neighborhood who are living in fear?
  • Are you compelled to work with others to make sure your community adopts the Welcoming Community Principles, and creates an ordinance or statute that clearly states that position?
  • Are you willing to support local families, struggling to stay together in this country?
  • Can you show up when your presence, your body, is needed, outside the offices of ICE – Immigration and Customs Enforcement – or other agencies, and demand truth from those who are detaining immigrants who pose no threat to our community? Or at your City Council or Village Board meeting to ask about the racial disparity in police stops or how money is allocated for library materials that represent ALL races, cultures, and gender identities? Or at your School Board to find out if the textbooks selected are telling the FULL history of America? Or what is being done differently so as to address issues of equity impacting achievement? Can you simply SHOW UP, and stand next to the vulnerable members of your community, of our society?
  • Will you decide to use your social media platforms to share TRUTH?
  • Will your action be to raise the REAL questions when those in power or with the loudest voices are imposing their will on the rest of thus, particularly those whose voices are not usually heard? Questions such as:
    • ‘What fear is driving the decision that has been made or the position you are taking?’ That means asking the parents of New Trier who oppose their school’s seminar day on Racial Justice: What do you fear will happen if your child participates in this day? Asking the faith leader who resists making a public statement in support of being a welcoming congregation: What do you fear will happen to our congregation if we welcome the stranger, if we include a worship song from another tradition, if we change a practice? Asking ourselves: What fear keeps me from speaking up to the friend or family member with whom I disagree?
    • ‘Who is being impacted by this Executive Order, and why does our government feel the need to limit their access to citizenship, or housing, or voting?’

What do you need to do, so that when you finish your day, you can say, “Today, I did not stay silent. Today, I did not accept cruelty. I did not accept abuse of power. I did not pretend that lies were truth. Today, I stood with the marginalized.”?

The swim marathon makes me cry

by Nancy Anderson, Flying Fish Coach
Reposted January 19, 2017 (originally posted January 26, 2015)

I read somewhere that you should pay attention to the things that make you cry – the things that unexpectedly give you a lump in your throat – because they tell you something about yourself and what makes you tick.

For me, many such moments have occurred on the pool deck over the last ten years in my role as a coach. My eyes brimmed at a time trials meet watching a relay of 11-12 girls trying to make a cut while their teammates cheered them on. I had to pull Kleenex out of my pocket at an end-of-season intersquad as I watched a shy, nearsighted swimmer, who was firmly opposed to meets, step up to the blocks and swim a 50 free. I swallowed hard at an away meet when an 8-year-old who clutched his stomach and cried about having to swim a 25-yard butterfly did it anyway, and then climbed out of the pool with a smile on his face.

And, every year, at the Flying Fish marathon, when we blow the whistle and play the music from the Olympics to signal the end of the hour-long swim, my eyes fill up.

I suppose this is an affirmation that I’m in the right part-time job. There’s something about competitive swimming that touches me. But it really isn’t about swimming. It’s about discovering that you’re more than you think you are, played out against a backdrop of blue water and candy-colored lane lines.

The swim marathon is one of the best examples of this discovery. I have seen frightened young swimmers (one whose parents told me he was in the school nurse’s office because he was sick with worry) confront their fears by jumping in and just doing it. I’ve been surprised by children who don’t seem to have much endurance or enthusiasm in practice but who find the strength to swim 100 laps when I thought they might do 60.

My eyes well up when I watch the seven-, eight- and nine-year-olds whom I coach swim their marathons because my lens is long. I know that this courage and tenacity – their “swimmer selves” – will spill over into other parts of their lives. Even if they leave competitive swimming, if they go on to play basketball or get the lead in “Guys and Dolls,” they will still return to their swimmer selves when they face something physically or mentally challenging.

And, I’m hopeful their swimmer selves will stick around for their adult lives, like mine did. In dark moments, when life seemed difficult and uncertain, it was my swimmer self who propelled me forward. It was that part of me, forged over many years and many yards, that understood that I simply had to keep kicking and pulling, even though it hurt, and somehow I would reach the wall.

So, Flying Fish swimmers, I get choked up every year when you finish your marathon swims, as I know my colleagues and your parents do as well, because I get to watch you discover that you’re more than you think you are – and you’ve got what it takes to face all of the marathons that lie ahead.

We stand together

by Karen Singer, CEO
Posted November 11, 2016

We walk through our doors at the YWCA Evanston/North Shore each morning determined to make our communities more just and equitable, determined to work for women’s empowerment and equality, for a woman’s right to choose what happens to her own body, for freedom from violence, and for people of all races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, cultures and religions to feel that they are embraced, have opportunity, are respected and that their lives are valued.

Yesterday morning, we walked through our doors and felt that instead of a glass ceiling shattering, the floor had dropped out from under us. We sat and grieved together for what seemed to be a national affirmation of everything that is antithetical to what we aspire to and hold as our most cherished values.

We are all searching for an explanation; a way to get our heads around something we are struggling to understand. How can the climate and rhetoric of hate, racism, violence against women, and fear have been given its ultimate validation?

Mia, a staff member who answers our domestic violence crisis line, wrote something yesterday that especially resonated with us:

“(My son) stayed up with me until 12:30 am. He went to bed knowing it was probably over, but saying that maybe it wasn’t. There was a tiny bit of hope in his heart. The Cubs taught him about late night miracles last week. Still, I could hear the despair in his voice when he said, ‘I don’t want to go to school tomorrow, Mom.’”

“In the morning I came downstairs immediately after hearing him get up. I hugged him long and hard, with tears in my eyes, tears that are still in my eyes as I type this. I said, ‘I love you.’ And then I said, ‘You have to go to school today. You have to go to school for all those girls and Latinos and blacks and gays and Muslims at your school who were just told by America that they are not valued. You have to show up for them.’”

“To all of us who were told by this election that we do not matter, that our rights are irrelevant, I will show up for you. I will stand with you and I will fight every injustice I see. I will continue to use my voice as best as I can. For all of us. Even for those who voted differently. Because their rights may come under attack as well.”

Mia speaks for all of us at YWCA Evanston/North Shore. And like her and her son, we will show up every day to say and to demonstrate that we stand together. We will work together to fight bigotry and injustice. We will work together to ensure that our values not only stay intact, but prevail.

We live in a blue city bubble, and those of us who live in this big metropolitan area have heard but not fully appreciated or understood the deep anxieties and lived experiences of others as profoundly as we should. We need to build bridges across what seems, right now, like a vast chasm. The more we talk about the divisions, without finding common ground, the more polarized we become as a nation.

We are uncertain of what lies ahead and that can feel very scary. But let us not react in fear. We need to reach out, build connections and coalitions, build a more inclusive and united voice that brings out the best in who we all are. We need to move to action and double down on creating more just communities, a more just country for all. At the same time, we must never lose sight of and stop fighting for the values we uphold, and we must resist any encroachment on our fundamental human rights and notions of justice.

Let us not forget that while the glass ceiling was not shattered, it was cracked. For the first time in history, a major political party nominated a woman for president. But this election season has been a stark indicator that our work is as relevant and necessary as ever. We must and will continue to eliminate racism and empower women, listen with empathy and act in solidarity, and reaffirm the values that are the foundation of our mission: dignity, justice, and respect.

Hold tight to the vision of what we know we can be.

In solidarity,

Karen Singer, CEO, and all of us at YWCA Evanston/North Shore

Four Moments in the Life of a Flying Fish

by Peter Raffel 
Posted September 6, 2015


Peter Raffel (r) with CJ Smith (l), both of whom grew up swimming for the Flying Fish, spent the 2015/2016 season as assistant coaches in the program.

The following are four recollections from my fifteen years as a Flying Fish, both as a swimmer and a staff member: 

At eight years old: 

I am eight years old, swimming in my first inter squad meet after a few months of rigorous training. This is my freshman debut as a member of the Flying Fish.
The pool is massive, a shimmering fluorescent surface crowded by swimmers, timers, coaches, parents. The water, however, is oddly placid, unwavering in the impending upheaval.

This is the first time I feel a sensation later identified as Butterflies, a swallowing of the stomach into a vortex of anxiety. After three races I’m ushered via a chaotic queue back to the blocks for the fourth twenty-five, the aptly-named Butterfly. One of my cohorts bravely attests that, unfortunately, none of us know how to do Butterfly.

This is when we receive our introductory lesson. The head coach, a stoic man named Pete, sits on the hose reel container before us and waxes poetic about how to do this so-called Butterfly. Right there, in a thirty-second tutorial, I receive wisdom that informs me to kick like a dolphin and swing my arms over my head. And so, after Pete is finished with his explanation, we are routed into lanes. And when the starter sounds his horn we dive in, and I do Butterfly. I can only assume it was less than perfect. But I can also assume that for my parents, and perhaps even Pete watching, it was the very essence of perfect.

At ten years old: 

Two years later, at Indianapolis’ prestigious IUPUI campus, I’m swimming in what appears to be the largest pool ever commissioned. It includes: one fifty-meter pool converted into two twenty-five-yard pools, a shallow-depth warm down pool, and a heated diving well that’s really fun to try to touch the bottom of.

At this point it has been determined that I am a breaststroker. This was determined because my legs literally refused to do freestyle kick, even at the urging of a screaming Jamaican man. The screaming Jamaican man is Oswald, my coach: former reggae star, now a swim instructor and pool operator. Once he laid me across the block and pretended to chop me in half with a rusty saw. For a shy kid who has difficulty mustering the slightest conversation with teammates, it was wondrous. As a hero, there’s not much more you can ask for.

Now, though, it’s the Big League: apparently there’s this thing called Finals, in which after swimming your race in the morning, you re-swim it that night for your definitive placing. So Sunday AM: I swim the 100 Breast, coming in fourth overall for 9-10’s, out-touching fifth by hundredths of seconds. Those Butterflies (see previous section) have bred new Butterflies and are having some sort of Butterfly Dance Party. The idea of getting beaten by #5 is horrifying, and a repeat performance seems impossible – might as well scratch, go home, pick up tennis or something. My parents take me to Johnny Rocket’s for lunch; I can’t eat anything, and when the waiters get up on the table and boogie I don’t even break a smile.

So when finals comes around I’m naturally distraught. IUPUI’s arena is roughly the size of an upper echelon Sting concert. There’s an eerie silence before the start, before I’m expected to defend my title. I look over at Oswald: arms folded, heat-sheet in hand, nodding silently. The horn sounds, I burst from the block. Every bit of unwieldy energy is expended, every breath an affirmation more than a gasp, every pullout a silent shout towards the hurtling crowd’s roar. I know that last twenty-five was real rough – video footage could probably verify this. But when I two-hand touch I see that #5 is still at the flags – in fact, he finishes four seconds behind me. In fact, I dropped four seconds. In fact, I did better than I did in the morning.

The ribbon I receive in my folder is black and yellow with a snowman on it. I expected something more triumphant, honestly – like, say, an Edible Arrangement. But, needless to say, it’s the most important ribbon I ever earn.

At fifteen years old: 

Now I’m fifteen. My body has grown, so has my mind – so has the YWCA, adding a downstairs pool (colloquially know as The Warm Pool). I’m scheduled to begin employment that summer as a swim instructor, following in the footsteps of the great Natalie and JoAnne, who have changed more lives than most presidents I can name.

Still, though, there’s something growing inside me: a sadness, inescapable. It ebbs with the water, manifesting: so taking a stroke becomes physically painful, beyond willpower; so sometimes my goggles swim with what may be tears or may be pool-water; so sometimes I take a bathroom break to the locker room and just sit on the bench or stare in the mirror.

Things climax at our Charlotte meet, where Saturday night I’m overcome and end up crying unabashedly in the hotel bathroom. Dad hears me, we talk, but words don’t encompass what’s happening. Part of me wants to go back to Evanston, to some centralized location – namely, home. But also I’m on relays, I figure – and, subconsciously, the decision to not swim Sunday seems synonymous with giving up something larger, more internal. So I swim. And then I go home, and take Monday off school, and Dad and I walk to Walgreens and he says I can buy anything, and I choose a Sugar Free Red Bull because their commercials are cool and I’m dumb.

After this the winter clears up, the sun shines, and one day Seth takes me outside for a talk. Seth is, to a fifteen-year-old kid struggling with identity, the coolest guy. He’s introduced me to most of what I now enjoy, and championed my writing, film, music, whatever creative thing I’m throwing against the wall. After learning that he writes in all caps, the transformation is swift and exacting.

Anyway, Seth takes me outside to talk in the employee parking lot – which already has a Mecca-like feel to it. He’s leaning against a four-door and I’m standing there sheepishly, the sun warming earth, the leaves unfolding, a soft wind on us.
This is all I have from the memory. I don’t remember what Seth said, or what I said. I don’t know if he was aware of what was happening – whether my parents had spoken with him, or Oz, or Pete. I don’t know if Pete even knew we were talking – I don’t know if this was protocol, or his initiative. I don’t know how long the conversation lasted. I only remember him leaning against that four-door and the way he looked in the sun, where things seemed to be getting better already, maybe, if I worked at it.
And I remember how I felt afterwards – and so maybe the words weren’t so important. I remember thinking that that sadness didn’t have to encapsulate me if I didn’t want it to – that it was real, like fear, or desire, or water, but it was only a small part of something much larger inside me, and everyone swimming by my side. And I remember thinking I wasn’t as alone as I thought I was. And somehow, those ideas became affixed in my mind along with the image of that day more than any words ever were.

At twenty-three years old: 

I’m going to abandon my framework here, like all good writers do, because now it becomes not so much a moment as a feeling. I am twenty-three years old, and am writing this at 2:00 AM CST from the McDonalds in the Delhi airport. I have worked, in some capacity, for the YWCA Flying Fish for the past eight years.

And I know that feeling – it’s a feeling we hear about often. Much of the talk surrounding the Fish is about its life-changing qualities, its care with regards to the child both in and out of the pool, its place as a home away from home, its tireless staff and its heart-warming, family-centric attitude. These are comments we all relish, obviously – but to me they live in the abstract, in the far-off revelations of long-term relationships. We tend to look at the final puzzle as opposed to each individual piece we used to complete it – and so that feeling, for me, is not a moment, but infinite moments, patched together to create something that traverses time and space. Because practices exist, meets exist, games exist, more exists. Anne stands in the lobby laughing with a parent while a kid pleads to get something from the vending machine. Rom gets stonewalled by three out of four kids for his corny jokes, but then that fourth one breaks into a smile you didn’t know existed in modern times. Terry and Kim come up with innumerable ideas, every one of which seems more ingenious than many art installations at MOMA. Pigeon/Penguin is played, times are made, sets are completed, goggles are loaned, conversation swirls regarding everything from what you had for lunch to what’s worth getting out of bed in the morning. Those are all those moments – and they’re real, and they happen every day. And these intricacies are what to amaze me – not so much the big stuff, but the little stuff that seems to continue of its own accord, unchecked and unadulterated, but existing all the same.

A lot of kids ask me if we can do races to see who’s the fastest – and I tell them what I was always told: You’re not racing who’s next to you, you’re racing yourself. And maybe for the first few years, I said that out of habit – but at some point I began to mean it. Because swimming really isn’t about the person on either side of you, or even the clock timing you. Those are enablers for something larger – if anything, they’re your friends. It’s about you, and the water, and what you’re capable of both inside and outside of that pool. It’s about pushing yourself to limits you saw in a mirage far away, hurdles you didn’t think you’d be able to overcome, places you didn’t think you’d ever reach. It isn’t a stretch to say that what I learned at the Y is what led me to where I am now: unafraid, carving out a space in this world, exploring even further into what I know I must explore. It’s about the pool, but it also isn’t about the pool. It’s about the physical and the mental, but it’s also about something that can transcend both of those. The Y gave me that in those moments – moments that formed the puzzle that is me and everyone I swam with. If Pete is reading this, or Seth, or Oz, they’re definitely rolling their eyes – and I kind of am too. It’s hard to admit that something you do, something you created, changed so many. It’s hard to admit that living in those moments was something larger than expected: something timeless, malleable – cliché, yes, but apparent.

The work to eliminate racism is head AND heart work

by Karen Singer, President/CEO
Posted July 7, 2016


Last week's shooting deaths were horrific. As Donique McIntosh, Co-Director of our Racial Justice Program wrote last week, "The work to eliminate racism is head AND heart work. And today my heart is heavy." (Read her essay here.)

Like most of you, I am filled with a wide range of emotions: despair, shame, outrage, confusion and a deep and unrelenting sadness. Fear, anger, and violence breed more fear, anger, and violence. We can start to see racism and profound structural inequities as intractable. And although YWCA Evanston/North Shore doesn't have easy answers to these deeply-rooted, complex problems, our commitment to fighting for racial equity is stronger than ever. We know we cannot be silent.

So we join with the many others in our communities to be the change needed to dismantle the deeply entrenched system of racism that has been created. We invite all to get engaged with this change - to have conversations, get involved and take action to make our communities more equitable for all.

Our racial justice summit in May, the Race Against Hate, our weekly lunchtime conversations, racial equity trainings, and now our equitable institutions work - are all opportunities for growth and change. In a time of despair, let's take hope from the powerful rally organized in Evanston by our young people, and the many other efforts being made to gather people for action.

We cannot sit idly by. We must come together, heal; and act as one community. Dr. Martin Luther King talked about "the urgency of now". Join us.

Thank you for your continuing commitment to the mission of YWCA Evanston/North Shore and for standing up for social justice and racial equity,

Today I'm at a loss for words

by Donique McIntosh, Co-Director of Racial Justice Programs
Posted July 7, 2016


I am at a loss for words. I woke up to news of yet another killing of a black man by police. Writing seems so futile and yet here I am, putting fingers to keys hoping that something halfway coherent and meaningful will show up on the computer screen. The work to eliminate racism is head and heart work. And today my heart is heavy. I don’t know either of the latest victims personally but it feels like I do. It feels personal when your brown skin is the thing you have in common with the people who keep being killed. It feels like an assault and there isn’t any good way to take cover, no way to dodge a bullet when they come from seemingly every direction and no direction.

I just had a random conversation with my sister over the weekend about these killings. We shared our fears and concerns for my nephew who’s a tender teenage boy who happens to be 6 feet tall and probably two hundred pounds. I see his tenderness and his boyish ways but I can’t help but wonder what a random white police officer will see when they look at him. Will they see him as a threat and shoot to kill? Will he wear a hoodie one day, despite my sister’s admonition, and die some useless death because somebody thought he looked dangerous? I used to tell myself that instances like that were rare. These days my belief in the paucity of such tragedies is fading like an image in an old photograph.

I want to feel hope instead of despair but I’m not there today. Tomorrow’s another day and with any luck I’ll feel more hopeful. I desperately want to feel more hopeful. But I can’t and I won’t wake up tomorrow and go on as if two more lives weren’t taken. Will you?

We invite you to work for racial justice

Donique McIntosh and Eileen Hogan Heineman, Racial Justice Program Co-Directors
Posted April 18, 2016

At YWCA Evanston/North Shore, we take the words “eliminating racism” on our sign at the corner of Ridge and Church seriously and hold ourselves accountable on a daily basis to work towards racial equity. To encourage others to join in those efforts, we offer: programs and dialogues throughout the area; racial equity workshops or trainings for businesses, civic or faith-based groups, schools, and community organizations; long term support for those institutions working internally to become more equitable; access to resources through our website or racial justice library; as well as public events such as our April 29th Stand Against Racism and June 19th Race Against Hate to bring our community together, united against racism in all its forms.

On May 5 and 6, YWCA Evanston/North Shore will host our first racial justice summit, “Mirrors and Methods: Tools for Creating Racial Equity”, featuring keynote speakers Brittney Cooper and Dr. Robin DiAngelo, as well as 18 breakout sessions, all designed to help participants learn, share, and develop new strategies to end racism. 

We need a racial justice summit

In the past few years, publicized events around the country have created, for many, a new or increased awareness of how often skin color determines outcomes in our society. We want to believe we are in a “post racial society,” but the reality of what People of Color experience, both personally and institutionally, on a daily basis, tells us otherwise. For those who aren’t as aware of racial inequity, the growing attention can make people respond defensively and increase the tendency to engage in various forms of ‘blame the victim.’

In Chicagoland, as in the nation, we continue to grapple with institutional racism, in part because it is often invisible to the people who don’t experience it. Yet research conducted by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, the ACLU, and the Sentencing Project, among others, consistently identifies the racism that is woven into the fabric of our institutions – schools, businesses, government organizations, and courts of law.
More than half of our nation’s prison population is people of color and for black males the statistics are more unsettling. One in 10 black males in their thirties is in prison or jail on any given day, the Sentencing Project found.
Closer to home, the ACLU of Illinois reported earlier this year that “African Americans are far more likely than white residents to be subjected to traffic stops by the Chicago Police Department.” According to the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights, “Illinois has one of the widest disparities in the nation between suspended black students and their white classmates. During the 2012-13 school year, Chicago Public Schools issued suspensions for 32 of every 100 black students, compared to just five of every 100 white students.”

These statistics are a few of the many examples that highlight an urgent need for increasing awareness, deepening understanding, and taking action.

Why learn more about racial justice issues?

The goal of the summit is to bring people – of all ages and demographics – together to learn more about why racial disparities exist, deepen our understanding of racial identity, develop skills to work for change, and formulate action plans. 

We see the work of racial justice as both internal and external. The “mirror” of “Mirrors and Methods” is the internal, reflective piece. “What do I need to understand better? What tools or skills do I need to feel more confident in addressing racial issues?” The external piece is looking outward and saying, “Who are the people with whom I can connect? What actions can I/we take to start changing inequities?”

You can’t do the external work without doing the internal work. And both are processes. It’s the journey on which we need to focus, and people are at different places in their journeys. If participants leave the summit with a deeper understanding of systemic racism, if they acquire new skills, and take steps towards individual and collective action to create racial equity and justice, the summit will be successful.

Creating racial justice needs to be owned by all of us; it is everybody’s work to do. We hope the place will be packed!

To learn more and register to attend, go to www.YWCA.org/RJSummit or contact Donique McIntosh at 847-864-8445 x159.

Antonio Rice Works to Give Young Men New Models of Leadership and Masculinity

by Ariel DeLaRosa, Special Events and Social Media Coordinator
Posted February 12, 2016


Antonio Rice, Violence Prevention Educator, wears orange in honor of Teen Dating Violence Awareness month. His sign says "I wear orange because together we can and will end violence against women and girls."

Antonio Rice began working at YWCA Evanston/North Shore five years ago in the Relationship Violence Prevention Program. He is a Violence Prevention Educator and works primarily through a partnership between YWCA Evanston/North Shore and Youth Organizations Umbrella (Y.O.U.) known as Allied Against Violence

Allied Against Violence empowers young men to become strong leaders in their community. It also helps them understand the importance of healthy relationships, and most important, teaches them how to prevent violence against women. The first half of the program is heavily focused on training and teaching. A select group of participants is then chosen to strategize on public campaigns within their communities on how to prevent violence.

Allied Against Violence is an important program for young men because they learn to recognize and take responsibility for patterns of hurtful behavior toward women,” said Antonio. “They also learn to resist the cultural pressure to be dominant males. Instead they support each other in developing new ways to create a healthier culture of masculinity.”

Antonio noted that YWCA’s mission to empower women includes working with men. “Working with young men goes hand in hand with what we do at YWCA,” he said. “They are learning to treat women and deal with their manhood in a mature and responsible manner.”

Black History Month isn’t just for schoolchildren

by Eileen Hogan Heineman, Co-Director of Racial Justice Programs
Posted February 12, 2016

It’s February, which means it’s Black History Month. As a 30-year educator and a 15-year racial justice worker, I know how vitally important this is. I believe that until every textbook in every classroom in the United States contains all the history that has been missing for so long, we must intentionally work to get these stories told.

And it shouldn’t only be one month. Throughout the entire year, students should be made aware of the presence, role, and sacrifices made by all peoples – American Indians, Hispanics, Asians, Blacks, Europeans – in the building of this country.

Moreover, this learning should not only be in schools. All of us, particularly elected officials, need to be aware of the full picture of our country’s history. 

Here are some great books that can help those of us no longer in school “catch up” on what was not included in our textbooks:

  • People’s History of the United States – Howard Zinn
  • A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America – Ronald Takaki
  • Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong – James W. Loewen

Each of these illuminating books is available in our YWCA Racial Justice lending library in the southeast corner of our lobby, or at your local public library. 

Another incredibly valuable read is The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson. It tells the story of The Great Migration, which brought six million black Americans from the south to points north and west in the U.S. between 1920 and 1970.

We need our eyes opened not only to the history of blacks in America, but also to the present realities of people in our own communities. This reflection from a junior at Northwestern, "The Spectrum: Minority students belong at Northwestern,"  is a perfect example.

This young woman’s experiences would not surprise most people of color, but they are not a part of my daily life, or the lives of most people who walk through the world in white skin. How can we make sure that we are working every day to shine a light on these types of incidents? What can I, as a white woman, do to enact change?

Please consider sharing this post with your social media circles, so more people will have the chance to read her story. Perhaps you have other stories to tell. I’d be eager to hear them at: eheineman@ywcae-ns.org.

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

by Craige Christensen, Violence Prevention Education and Outreach Coordinator
Posted February 11, 2016


Craige Christensen (l), pictured with the Building Healthy Relationships team. 

Our Building Healthy Relationships team at YWCA Evanston/ North Shore works year round to increase awareness and recognition of teen dating violence. We also work with youth to develop the socio-emotional skills they need to develop healthy relationships built on respect, honesty, trust, support, equality and safety.

In the United States, 1 in 3 teens has experienced some form of abuse from a dating partner. Dating violence affects 1.5 million teens annually. (Love is Respect.org)
Many people assume that teen dating violence is only physical or sexual abuse. Often those are the most obvious signs of abuse. Less obvious, but no less harmful forms of abuse are:

  • Emotional/verbal abuse: Putting you down, humiliating and threatening you, or controlling who you see and what you do as well as how you look—hair, make-up, clothes you wear.
  • Digital abuse: Sexting, using social media to humiliate, threaten or stalk you. It also includes a partner demanding sign-on information and logging in to your digital accounts without asking permission.
  • Financial abuse: Preventing you from working, and taking your money.

The Building Healthy Relationships program at YWCA Evanston/North Shore uses early education, starting with kindergarteners, with classes focused on skills of empathy, emotion management, and problem solving/conflict resolution.

Our teen dating violence curriculum is geared to students as young as fifth grade. We start with workshops that teach recognizing healthy and unhealthy behaviors in all relationships, whether in school, with friends, or in extracurricular activities.

As we move fully into middle school and high school, we get more in depth as we teach skills of setting boundaries, and healthy ways to help friends who are either abused or abusive. Through all the classes we look at the influences of culture, media and stereotypes.

Unhealthy behaviors can start early and can last a lifetime. But prevention strategies, like YWCA’s Building Healthy Relationships, have been proven to prevent and reduce dating violence. For more information about this program and how to offer it at your organization, contact me at cchristensen@ywcae-ns.org.

No time to sleep

by Donique McIntosh, Co-Director of Racial Justice Programs
Posted January 18, 2016


Every year, around the Martin Luther King holiday I read “Letter from Birmingham City Jail”.This year was no different. I sat down to read the famous essay so that I could reflect on it and think about its contemporary significance. While I found the essay personally meaningful, I didn’t find it as useful in shaping my thinking about our current realities as I did his last Sunday sermon.    

Dr. King delivered his last Sunday sermon just days before he was killed. In the sermon, entitled “Remaining Awake through a Great Revolution”, Dr. King recounted the story of fictional character Rip Van Winkle who went to sleep and woke up twenty years later. The significance of the story, according to Dr. King is that Rip slept through a revolution. Dr. King wrote, “…the most striking thing about the story of Rip Van Winkle is not merely that Rip slept twenty years, but that he slept through a revolution. While he was peacefully snoring up the mountain a revolution was taking place that at points would change the course of history- and Rip knew nothing about it: he was asleep. Yes, he slept through a revolution. And one of the great liabilities of life is that all too many people find themselves living amid a great period of social change and yet they fail to develop the new attitudes, the new mental responses- that the new situation demands. They end up sleeping through a revolution.”

I believe there is a revolution happening in this country. I believe that people of color, and increasing numbers of white people have developed chronic racial injustice fatigue syndrome. They are, as civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer said, “sick and tired of being sick and tired”. Across the country, coalitions of people from different racial and ethnic groups, socioeconomic levels, religious and spiritual backgrounds, sexual orientations, and gender identities are joining together to transform this nation from what it is to what it should be. Organizations like Black Lives Matter, Dream Defenders, and Showing Up for Racial Justice are awake. What about us? Are we awake or are we sleeping through the revolution? If we’re asleep, what will wake us from our slumber? And, if we are awake, what do we use to join the revolution? What does the revolution require of us? I invite you to reflect on these questions with me as we observe the King holiday.

This moment in history

by Eileen Hogan Heineman, Director of Racial Justice Programs
Posted December 3, 2015

We are grateful for the many voices - and tragic videos - that have brought us to this moment in history. However, the firing of Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy will be merely a symbolic gesture, unless what follows immediately is a comprehensive plan for changing the culture within the entire Police Department. The CPD and the Fraternal Order of Police need to work together to address questions such as:

  • What outside agency will be brought in to provide long-term Equity and Inclusion training of every single CPD employee ? 
  • When will it begin, and what will be the schedule for ongoing delivery of training?
  • What systems of real accountability will be implemented for those officers whose on- duty conduct does not reflect a deeper empathy for the citizens they are serving?
  • What will be the new procedures for dealing with officers who have generated multiple complaints of excessive force?
  • What will be the penalty for a CPD employee, at any level, who witnesses another CPD employee using excessive force and neither interrupts nor reports the behavior?
  • What incentives will there be for police stations to create positive interactions with community groups, houses of worship, etc. in their beats?

Systemic problems can no longer be treated as if they are isolated incidents. Perceived threats, based primarily on the race of the person in question, can no longer justify criminal behavior on the part of law enforcement officers. The large percentage of police officers, who respond with appropriate levels of force, must be freed from the negative image created by those officers who abuse their power.

Culture change takes collective hard work, and wastes no time with blame, shame or excuses. Authentic transformation requires a high level of intentionality, so City of Chicago and Fraternal Order of Police, get busy! To borrow a phrase from 1968, “the whole world’s watching!”

Bias affects us all, even on college campuses

by Donique McIntosh, Co-Director of Racial Justice Programs
Posted August 24, 2015


Fall is my favorite season. I love the changing colors of the leaves, the cool breezes that replace summer’s heat, and the sense of possibility that a new school year evokes. What I don’t love is the persistent presence of racism, anti-Semitism, and sexism that accompanies students as they arrive at college campuses each fall. They’ve packed their bags and suitcases, and sometimes, unwittingly, their biases, stereotypes, and oppressive behavior and brought them all to the places where other students sleep, learn, live, and play.

The prevalence of oppression might surprise some. We tend to think of colleges as liberal places where people go to learn with open minds. But, college campuses are merely microcosms of the larger world and, as such, mirror the same hurtful and violent behavior we see other places. I worked in higher education for more than a decade and can scarcely recall a semester when there wasn’t a racist incident that captured the attention of the campus where I worked and at other campuses around the country. Incidents run the gamut from white people dressing up in blackface at parties to football players presenting a skit dressed as members of the KKK and carrying Confederate flags, to more common occurrences like this where people of color, women and Jewish people are targeted by hateful remarks and behavior.

While bigger incidents like these on campuses often make the local or national news, there are other smaller incidents that occur with regularity known as “microaggressions”. No less violent in their impact, microaggressions are often unconscious slights or insults. For instance, it's not uncommon to hear white people espouse a belief that the reason a person of color was admitted to an institution of higher education was because of affirmative action or for a Black or Hispanic person to be asked to check their bag at the front of the bookstore because the clerk assumes that they might steal something. Other instances include students mocking an Asian student's accent and white students not talking to or including students of color in group projects for class.
When there are larger incidents on campus, campus administrators have held campus-wide forums, disciplined students, and created teams to address diversity and students have led protests and demanded changes in policies and published letters in the college newspaper. Microaggressions can be more challenging for individuals and campus communities to address because they're less obvious.

Here are some things you can do if you or someone you know is heading to campus this fall:

  1. Recognize when you're buying into a stereotype and challenge yourself to think beyond it
  2. Educate yourself about people from different racial and ethnic groups
  3. Attend a diversity or social justice-oriented training on campus
  4. Take a General Education course on race and inequality in the U.S. if your school offers them
  5. Purposely live in a living-learning community with people who aren't like you
  6. Research the history of affirmative action in higher education and the history of blackface
  7. Listen when people of color, Jewish people, and women speak about their experiences as members of those groups
  8. Interrupt hateful comments and behavior 

Last week we placed “Black Lives Matter” signs on our property

by Karen Singer, YWCA Evanston/North Shore President and CEO
Posted August 24, 2015

Last week, we placed “Black Lives Matter” signs on our YWCA Evanston/North Shore property because we hope to continue generating thoughtful community-wide discussion about, and attention to, the daily plight of black men, women, and young people in our country.

There are those who will question our decision. Some might mention that it is important to include in this movement all of the many racial or ethnic groups in our diverse communities. Others could argue that since “Eliminating Racism” is part of our mission, we already are letting the world know that we care about black lives. Or one could join those who say, “Don’t ALL lives matter? Why focus on only one group?”

Why, indeed?

Because our society historically has, and continues to this day, sent the message, in many different ways, that black lives do not matter. We have come to accept, ignore, become indifferent to, or not even see the experience black people have in our society. Until we acknowledge and truly understand the impact systemic racism has had on black lives, we must continue to bring attention to this injustice in every way we can.
Yes, ALL lives matter. Many of us know our lives matter because of the way we and our family members get treated by: school personnel, law enforcement, the courts, merchants, potential landlords or employers, etc. However, others in our communities, specifically those who are black, live these truths:

  • Students of color are disciplined more severely than white students are, for the same behaviors, beginning as early as preschool. While black people make up 18% of students in preschool, they account for 42% of students with an out-of-school suspension and 48% of those with multiple out-of-school suspensions. (US Dept. of Education)
  • Black borrowers are more likely to get turned down for conventional mortgage loans than white people with similar credit scores. (Urban Institute)
  • Black drivers are nearly twice as likely as white drivers to be asked during a routine traffic stop for “consent” to have their car searched. Yet white motorists are 49% more likely than black motorists to have contraband discovered during a consent search. (ACLU of Illinois)
  • White Americans use drugs more than black Americans, but black people are arrested for drug possession more than three times as often as white people. (National Survey on Drug Use and Health, Bureau of Justice Statistics)
  • Sentences imposed on black males in the federal system are nearly 20 percent longer than those imposed on white males convicted of similar crimes. (US Sentencing Commission, 2013)

There are countless examples of the disparities that exist. The YWCA Evanston/North Shore wants to make clear that we stand with citizens in our community and throughout the country in further understanding the issues being raised by the Black Lives Matter movement. And until black lives matter as much as any other life, we will continue to listen, read, share, talk, and listen some more, in the hopes of being allies to those who are working so hard for racial equity. If you want more background, here are a few links that might be helpful:

We invite you to join us.

Six ways to help someone in an abusive relationship

With liberty and justice for all

What can you do today?

Turning tragedy into triumph

Evanston Men Challenged to Stand Up Against Domestic Violence

Men taking a stand

Take a moment

The swim marathon makes me cry

We stand together

Four Moments in the Life of a Flying Fish

The work to eliminate racism is head AND heart work

Today I'm at a loss for words

We invite you to work for racial justice

Antonio Rice Works to Give Young Men New Models of Leadership and Masculinity

Black History Month isn’t just for schoolchildren

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

No time to sleep

This moment in history

Bias affects us all, even on college campuses

Last week we placed “Black Lives Matter” signs on our property


Learn more, get safe, get involved, empower yourself.