The YWCA’s commitment to racial justice is one of the common threads that unites YWCAs across the country. Beginning in the mid-1800s, the YWCA was one of the first institutions to defy accepted societal opinions on race. Eliminating racism is one of the two central principles of the YWCA mission, along with the empowerment of women. And, at the core of the YWCA’s work is the recognition that not all women, or all people, are treated equally. Gender, race and economic equality are social issues that are interconnected and must be addressed in concert. For this reason, the YWCA advocates at the local and national level on racial justice and economic equality issues and also offers extensive programming to address these topics at our local associations.
Nearly 300,000 individuals participate in YWCA racial justice programs annually to increase awareness, build trust, break down stereotypes and communication barriers and build mutual respect and understanding of racial differences. Each April, local YWCAs participate in Stand Against Racism events across the country to draw attention to the ongoing need for peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. Over 65% of YWCA local associations offer intentional and distinct racial justice programs designed to help define, develop and implement strategies to address and combat individual and structural racism. Other locals imbue their programs with a racial justice component. Here’s a look at some YWCA Racial Justice programming:
• YWCA Duluth launched a community-wide, anti-racist initiative to generate discussions about racism and racial disparities in Duluth, called the Unfair Campaign. The initiative has two parts. The first is a partnership of 17 local human rights organizations and institutions that have made a commitment to address racism and racial disparities in their own organizations. The second part of the initiative is a community-wide education campaign.
• YWCA Greater Pittsburgh’s Center for Race and Gender Equity (CRGE) is responsible for developing and implementing strategies and/or programs that address individual and systemic racism and gender inequity and directs the development and integration of the YWCA’s programs and initiatives around gender, race and social issues. Their trainings and programs focus on issues such as race/racism, diversity lens/cross cultural communication, gender bias, and diversity planning.