The following letter appeared in the Evanston Roundtable on June 1, 2017
As an organization whose cornerstone mission is to eliminate racism, we work on equity issues throughout the community, including under our own roof, with our own staff and board. We believe every organization should have an equity plan, and revisit it frequently. And while we can’t comment on the specific issues at the Evanston Public Library, we can share what we have learned as we have committed time and resources to engaging institutional leaders in efforts to create more just and equitable institutions.
Institutional racism still exists, and there is much work to be done at all levels to address the issues that keep white privilege in place. No institution, including YWCA Evanston/North Shore, is immune from deeply held beliefs that are based in inequality. Every institution struggles with racial inequity, and the process of examining institutional racial equity is both difficult and unsettling. Yet this examination is critical if we are serious about creating an equitable community for all who live and work here.
The work that goes into developing a racial equity plan is not easy. There are predictable patterns of how institutions and individuals respond to confronting racial inequity. Those sounding the alarm of inequity are often dismissed. People tend to respond with defensiveness. Traditionally excluded groups are often blamed for their own marginalization.
We hope the Evanston Public Library, like all institutions, will continue working toward racial equity. YWCA Evanston/North Shore is steadfast in its commitment to support organizations in Evanston on this critical, necessary, journey, and we stand as allies with others who are working towards this same end. We all have a long way to go.