“The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” These words originated with a 19th century abolitionist and were later used by Martin Luther King Jr.
A few years ago, Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to President Obama, added a corollary, saying, “That arc bends faster when it is pushed.”
I have referenced this quote before, including Valerie Jarrett’s addition, because it powerfully illustrates the work we do every day at YWCA Evanston/North Shore. As a social justice organization, we are continually pushing to make the arc bend faster, particularly when it comes to eliminating racism.
At YWCA Evanston/North Shore, with your generous support, we’re turning ideals into measurable progress in the fight for racial justice and civil rights. The work is incremental but the change, over time, is monumental.
What Working for Racial Justice Looks Like
In December, we co-sponsored the Anti-Islamophobia rally, which drew 300 people to Fountain Square in Evanston on a cold winter night.
Last year, YWCA Evanston/North Shore’s racial justice programming and advocacy touched thousands, from classrooms to coffee shops to boardrooms.
We hosted “Let’s Talk @ Lunch” and “Reel Talks,” which engaged diverse groups across our communities in conversations about race. And nearly 500 people from institutions such as Northwestern University, Unitarian Church of Evanston and Niles Township High School participated in our racial equity training. In addition, we doubled the size of our annual “Stand Against Racism” to 10,000 participants.
This year, we are adding “Let’s Talk @ Lunch” sessions at the Skokie Public Library, and we are planning bigger community gatherings that will engage more people in productive discussions about race.
Would you like to get more involved? Or could your office, institution or house of worship benefit from training offered by YWCA Evanston/North Shore? Learn more by clicking here.
Flying Fish Aquatics breaks down cultural and economic barriers to ensure that all children have the opportunity to learn to swim.
Aquatics Programs Have Grown in Diversity
What does swimming have to do with racial justice? Plenty. Statistics show that people of color drown at much higher rates than whites.
“Not long ago, people of color were not welcomed in public pools, so they didn’t learn to swim,” said Pete Caragher, YWCA Evanston/North Shore’s aquatics director. “This institutional racism led to cultural barriers to learning to swim.”
YWCA’s Flying Fish Aquatics program has worked hard to eliminate those barriers. In 2005, five to ten percent of participants in all Flying Fish programs – from swimming lessons to the Flying Fish swim team – were children of color. Today, that number has risen to 30 percent.
“Building our second pool allowed a renewed focus on our mission, which is that all children should learn to swim, be safe around water, and also reap the empowering benefits of the sport,” said Pete. “When you look at the diversity of our swimmers today, you can see that this has happened.”
He added, “The generosity of the community, from supporting the second pool to giving to the Oswald "Oz" Roper Memorial Fund and the swim marathon, has been instrumental in this progress.”
What You Can Do to Stand Up for Racial Justice
- Register for our Racial Equity Workshops in February;
- Look for opportunities to engage in productive discussions about race (like “Let’s Talk @ Lunch”);
- Attend movies, plays and programs with post-performance discussions (like “Reel Talks” on January 19 and 26);
- Take part in YWCA Evanston/North Shore’s “Stand Against Racism”on April 29th;
- Participate in the YWCA Evanston/North Shore's annual Ricky Byrdsong Memorial Race Against Hate on June 19th (registration opens in March!);
- Learn more by reading (all of the titles below are available in the racial justice lending library in our lobby). Some suggested titles include:
- Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
- The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
- Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
Thank you for making a difference in 2015!
Your support has enabled YWCA Evanston/North Shore to reach thousands of individuals in our communities. Because of you, more women and children have found shelter and are healing from the trauma of domestic violence and abuse, including financial abuse. Your gifts have helped individuals work together and learn ways to talk about race and racism. And your contributions to our scholarship program have helped more children learn how to swim, ensuring that they can be safe in and around water.
Your gifts make a difference because they help enhance the safety and well-being of thousands of women, children and families each year. Thank you for giving to YWCA Evanston North/Shore. We appreciate your support, and we wish you a safe and prosperous 2016!
Leave a legacy
Would you like to have a lasting impact on your community? A Planned Gift can benefit you, your family and YWCA Evanston/North Shore. Learn more here.