Evanston, IL – On Friday, April 25th, and estimated 2,300 people joined the YWCA Evanston/North Shore for its third annual “Stand Against Racism.” This YWCA USA initiative is aimed at raising awareness that racism still exists in our communities and that it can no longer be ignored or tolerated.
Individuals, organizations, schools, businesses and faith groups came together in the community-wide “stand” on Friday, April 25th from 12:40-12:55. Participants lined both Ridge Ave. and Church St. holding handmade signs, reading a pledge to stand together against racism and cheering while cars honked in support. Many participants also wore buttons and stickers which read “Racism Hurts Everyone,” distributed by the YWCA Evanston/North Shore.
“Racism affects us all,” said Karen Singer, YWCA Evanston/North Shore President and CEO. “As a community, it diminishes us. We feel that it’s important to stand together in a collective effort to say we won’t allow racism and we’ll work together to end it.”
“Does standing together for 15 minutes eliminate racism? Of course not,” added Eileen Heineman, Director of Racial Justice Programs. “But it does allow us to see the broad range of people in this community who are committed to working toward that goal. We need each other’s support to stay in the struggle, to have the hard conversations, to do the self-assessment necessary to transform ourselves and our community.”
The Stand Against Racism was first created by several YWCA agencies in New Jersey in response to the growing number of hate groups operating in the United States. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (a Montgomery, Alabama civil rights organization), there are almost 1,000 active hate groups in the United States, an increase of 56% in the last eight years. The Stand Against Racism initiative encourages communities to identify how racial inequity exists in their institutions, and work together to dismantle inequitable policies and practices.
This year, almost 50 organizations in Evanston, Skokie, Wilmette, and Winnetka participated in the YWCA Evanston North/Shore Stand Against Racism. An estimated 310,000 individuals took part throughout the United States.
Stand Against Racism is one part of the Racial Justice Program at the YWCA Evanston/ North Shore. Other initiatives include the Community Conversations on Racial Equity, Let’s Talk @ Lunch, “Reel” Talk, and the Equitable Institutions program, currently being piloted internally by the YWCA. The YWCA Evanston/North Shore also sponsors the Ricky Byrdsong Memorial Race Against Hate, which drew over 5,000 participants last year and is set to take place this year on June 15. Information about these is available at: www.ywca.org/RJprograms.
For more information about these programs, contact Racial Justice Associate Emma Garl Smith, at (847) 846-8445 x173 firstname.lastname@example.org
The YWCA’s Stand Against Racism, a collaboration of YWCA Associations nationwide, is an annual event managed by the YWCA Trenton and the YWCA Princeton in New Jersey. The YWCAs in America and around the world have a rich history of advocating for racial justice. Throughout our history, the YWCA has been in the forefront of most major movements in the United States as a pioneer in race relations. We intend to affect real change in the lives of our family, friends and co-workers through a process that identifies and eradicates the barriers that divide us and that perpetuate racism and other forms of oppression. As individuals learn what has kept us apart, they will develop new ways of working cooperatively by creating new models of shared resources and perspectives.