Racial Justice Programs
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.
In 1893, the YWCA Dayton became the first YWCA in the United States with an officially organized program for African-American women and girls. This marked the start of over a century of work for racial justice and equality. In 1932, the YWCA Dayton took a leadership role in racial justice as Mrs. O. W. Evans became the first African American to join our Board of Directors. The YWCA Dayton’s Board of Directors continues its commitment to diversity both in organizational leadership and throughout staff roles.
The YWCA Dayton recognizes the connections between race and economic equality within our own community. The 2014 Montgomery Community Health Assessment reported that 29% of African American families live below the poverty level compared to only 9% of white families. The intersectionality of race and poverty also has a linked effect on domestic violence with African American women experiencing intimate partner violence at a rate of 35% higher than that of white females.
The YWCA Dayton seeks to combat racial injustice through a variety of programming that addresses multiple issues concurrently.