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
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
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
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,
Hold tight to the vision of what we know we can be.
Karen Singer, CEO, and all of us at YWCA Evanston/North