Thank you for taking a Stand Against Racism with us.
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Week 1: Personal Anti-Racism - How Racism Shows Up For Me
For 150 years, YWCA Dayton has committed to thrust our collective power to eliminate racism wherever it exists, by any means necessary. As the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Rayshard Brooks have inspired action across the nation, YWCA Dayton has been overwhelmed by the number of people readied to embrace anti-racism, no matter how exhausting or uncomfortable this work can be. In response, we have launched this: a special Summer 2020 edition of the 21-Day Racial Equity and Social Justice Challenge. To those of you who have been here with us before, welcome back; and to those who are new, thank you for stepping up to do this work with us.
Our 21-Day Challenge has always focused on how racial and social injustice impact our community, and how we can dismantle it, but this challenge may feel different. While YWCA acknowledges the many forms of hate and discrimination that marginalize individuals across our communities, this challenge will center anti-Black racism — the unwillingness of our society to recognize and protect the humanity of Black Americans. We want to use this Challenge to unpack the why of this moment. Why are Black men and women being killed by police? Why are Black Americans contracting and dying of COVID-19 at higher rates? Why are people protesting? And what can we do about it? If you believe you already know the answers, give yourself space for learning more.
Though recent events have called attention to the impacts of systemic racism in our society, these issues are not new, nor are their effects limited to the realms of policing and public health. They are the forewarned conclusion of 400 years of oppression. While systemic cultural and policy changes must occur to dismantle the structures that hold racism in place, the way we start is with you. By intentionally choosing to be anti-racist and building your understanding of the myriad ways our society undermines the lives of Black people, you are offering your influence, your network, and your focus. It will take all of us harnessing our collective power to eliminate racism.
Thank you for being On a Mission with us.
Shannon TL Isom, President & CEO
BEFORE YOU GET STARTED:
- Complete this pre-Challenge survey to set your intentions and share your goals for the Challenge with us.
- Download your 21-Day Challenge Reflection Log — it’s a tool to ensure you are taking full advantage of what the Challenge has to offer.
- Participating as a group? Check out this toolkit for further engagement ideas throughout the Challenge, and — if you haven’t already done so — let us know at email@example.com so we can include you on our Challenge Ambassador list.
- We want to thank YWCA Greater Cleveland for inspiring the Challenge, originally developed by Dr. Eddie Moore Jr. and Debby Irving and adapted by many organizations across the country.
TODAY’S CHALLENGE: ANTI-RACISM
Let’s start the Challenge by exploring the difference between being non-racist and anti-racist. Throughout the next 21 days, this Challenge will encourage you and give you tools to be an anti-racist; and it doesn’t require that you always know the right thing to say or do in any given situation. It asks that you take action and work against racism wherever you find it, including — and perhaps most especially — in yourself.
IF YOU HAVE…
TODAY’S CHALLENGE: LEVELS OF RACISM
Are you seeing and addressing how racism operates at different levels? Dr. Camara Jones, senior fellow at Morehouse School of Medicine, says that in order to address racism effectively, we have to understand how it operates at multiple levels. Often, what people think of first is interpersonal racism, but in order to eliminate racism, we must address systemic forms of racism — institutional and structural.
Structural racism refers to the complex ways in which history, public policies, institutional practices, and cultural representations interact to maintain racial hierarchy and inequitable racial group outcomes. Applying a structural racism lens allows us to see and understand:
- The racial legacy of our past
- How racism persists in our national policies, institutional practices, and cultural representations
- How racism is transmitted and either amplified or mitigated through public, private, and community institutions
- How individuals internalize and respond to racialized structures
Understanding how each level of racism shows up is crucial to understanding exactly why and how we need to work for racial justice.
IF YOU HAVE…
- 2 MINUTES: View this infographic on levels of racism to better understand how these levels present themselves in our community.
- 5 MINUTES: Watch this video from Race Forward about the importance of looking at systemic, not simply individual, racism.
- 10 MINUTES: Read this blog on the four levels of racism and the need for a systemic approach to seeing and addressing oppression.
TODAY’S CHALLENGE: PRIVILEGED — WHO, ME?
How do you think about your racial identity and its relevance to your work, volunteer, or education paths? Identity matters. Who we think we are and who others think we are can have an influence on how we navigate the world, think about possibilities, and take action. Consider if and how you think about your own racial identity. Do you think about its relevance to the work you do and the spheres you inhabit? What comes up for you?
Privileges are unearned benefits that someone has just by being a member of a certain group (gender, race, sexual orientation, family, education, country of origin, language, physical and mental ability, etc.). Having, or not having, certain privileges is not a guarantee of success or failure; it is simply a different starting point that makes success more or less likely. People with higher amounts of privilege are less likely to be aware of their privilege than people with lesser amounts of privilege. White privilege is both a legacy and a cause of racism. Having white privilege and recognizing it is not racist. But white privilege exists because of historic, enduring racism and biases.
IF YOU HAVE…
TODAY’S CHALLENGE: UNDERSTANDING IMPLICIT BIAS
The term “implicit bias” describes when we have attitudes toward people or associate stereotypes with them without our conscious knowledge. Residing deep in the subconscious, these implicit biases can be both positive and negative, and can be activated without you even knowing it. They operate unconsciously and differ from known biases that people may intentionally hide.
A growing number of studies show a link between hidden biases and actual behavior. In other words, implicit bias can reveal itself in action, especially when a person’s efforts to control behavior consciously fail under stress, distraction, relaxation, or competition.
Everyone has some form of implicit bias; but knowledge is empowering. It is critical that we recognize, stay aware of, and learn to correct for the biases we carry. Having biases doesn’t make you a bad person — it only makes you human.
IF YOU HAVE…
- 10 MINUTES: Watch this interview with psychologist Dr. Jennifer L. Eberhardt that unpacks the impact of implicit biases on our perceptions of Black americans and outcomes in policing.
- 20 MINUTES: Take one (or more) of these Hidden Bias tests to uncover your implicit associations about race, gender, sexual orientation, skin tone, and other topics.
- 1 HOUR: Listen to this Hidden Brain podcast that examines research on “studying the invisible:” prejudices so deeply buried, we often doubt their existence.
TODAY’S CHALLENGE: WHAT IS WHITE FRAGILITY?
Have you heard of the term “white fragility?” For white people, “white fragility” refers to their discomfort and avoidance of racially charged stress, which perpetuates racial inequity. Many Black, Indigenous, and people of color are familiar with this concept, but may not be familiar with the term.
Dr. Robin DiAngelo describes white fragility as a state of being for white people in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves can include the outward display of emotions (such as anger, fear, and guilt) and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation. These behaviors shut down conversations and inhibit actions which, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium.
IF YOU HAVE…
- 5 MINUTES: Take this quiz from the publisher of DiAngelo’s book to see if you exhibit “white fragility” traits.
- 10 MINUTES: Read this article that unpacks how we continue to reproduce racist outcomes and live segregated lives.
- 20 MINUTES: Review this list of 28 common racist attitudes and behaviors that indicate a detour or wrong turn into white guilt, denial, or defensiveness.
TODAY’S CHALLENGE: TALKING TO KIDS ABOUT RACE & RACISM
The insidious nature of racism is what makes it difficult for people to see and understand. Often unintentionally, adults who children know, love, respect, and trust send subliminal — but very clear — messages that race and racism is not to be discussed or even mentioned. To change the racial inequities that exist in the United States, we must talk about race with our kids, including the racial injustices currently happening in our communities. Our goal is to help children understand what race is, how it operates in society, and why race in America is important.
Talking about race must start with personal education and reflection:
• When were you first aware of your race?
• What do you remember from childhood about how you made sense of human differences? What confused you?
• What childhood experiences did you have with friends or adults who were different from you in some way?
• How, if ever, did any adult give you help thinking about racial differences?
To be effective, conversations about race must be frequent and explicit, in unmistakable terms that children understand. The following are resources for approaching race and racism with children. These resources are focused on individuals who parent children, however, critical conversations about race and racism must occur in the home and at school. Educators, check out these tools from Teaching Tolerance to bring racial justice into your classroom.
IF YOU HAVE…
- 10 MINUTES: Read this article with tips and books to help explain police violence and protest to your kids.
- 20 MINUTES: Listen to this podcast in which experts break down conversations about race and racism for parents of young children.
- 30 MINUTES: Explore this toolkit that provides anti-racist tools for parents.
HOW TO TAKE ACTION
To wrap up our introduction of personal anti-racism, we are going to ask you to take two actions: share what you’ve learned and keep finding ways to educate yourself. Choose one of these movies to watch with your family to start an open conversation about racial justice in your home.
Week 2: Criminal Injustice - Disparities in Policing and the Legal System
TODAY’S CHALLENGE: HISTORY OF POLICING
Deadly racial bias within the criminal justice system is not a new phenomenon; however, in recent years, increased use of social media to document incidents — and organizing efforts driven by Black women — have highlighted the massive impact of these biases on communities of color, spurring a national movement for action that protects Black lives. For the next six days, we are going to unpack how we got to this moment with policing and criminal justice in the United States and what we can do to address it.
In order to understand the role of the police in undermining the lives of people of color, we must understand how and why the police were created; how stakeholders like police unions prevent police reform and accountability; and how we are equipping police officers to enforce the law. These conversations will focus on law enforcement as an institution — rather than focusing on well-meaning individuals or “bad actors.” Learning more about the history of the police will help us better understand the present-day relationship between the police and communities of color — marked from the beginning by the use of violence as a means of control.
IF YOU HAVE…
- 10 MINUTES: Watch this video that unpacks how American slavery helped to create modern-day policing.
- 30 MINUTES: Read this article that traces the history of Black criminality in the United States.
- 1 HOUR: Listen to this episode of NPR’s Throughline which provides an in-depth overview of the origins of American policing
TODAY’S CHALLENGE: HOW WE EXPERIENCE POLICE
Historically, we have charged the police with the function of safeguarding public security; but today, American police are asked and expected to respond to a broad range of issues: addressing family disputes, mental health crises, and even blocked driveways. Yet, they often have few, if any, tools available to respond to these needs beyond enforcement, which current organizational practices, professional culture, and other external demands prioritize, and even incentivize. This emphasis on enforcement as a one-size-fits-all response has the result of criminalizing marginalized communities for experiencing social conditions such as homelessness or poverty.
The historic role of police in enforcing laws and policies that criminalize Black Americans continues to shape their perceptions and interactions with law enforcement today. Not only are stories of police violence passed down between generations, people of color continue to have daily interactions with law enforcement that reinforce the idea that the police do not function for their protection, but rather for the protection of white life and property. All people want to feel safe in their homes, communities, and places of work, but communities of color often feel that the police response to their communities translates to a sense of feeling over-policed — and yet — simultaneously under-protected. Moreover, recent highly publicized incidents involving excessive, and sometimes lethal, use of force have further eroded public trust in law enforcement.
Today’s challenge will focus on understanding how Black Americans experience policing. To get a better sense of how police use force in your community, check out this map.
IF YOU HAVE…
- 10 MINUTES: Watch this video in which a Black dad shares what it is like to experience biased policing as a parent.
- 20 MINUTES: Read this article to understand how everyday experiences have led to Black Americans’ fear of police.
- 30 MINUTES: Read this article to unpack how police make people feel, and why this is hard data to quantify.
TODAY’S CHALLENGE: ALTERNATIVES TO POLICE VIOLENCE
With the understanding that law enforcement was created for the purpose of using violence to control Black Americans, the current prevalence of known and unknown incidents of police brutality, and the ongoing distrust of police by communities of color — we should all recognize that something needs to change. All people deserve to feel safe and protected, but what solutions can we implement to help us achieve that goal?
With heightened attention on police violence, protestors, community activists, and legislators are calling for different approaches. Today, we are going to focus on the most common proposals: reform, defund, and abolish the police.
Some may seem radical, but the goal of today’s challenge is to help you understand these proposals and start to consider where your voice fits in. It is important to recognize that these solutions are not mutually exclusive. Some see reform and defund as stepping stones to ultimately abolish the police. Others believe we must both defund and reform the police in tandem, effectively reducing the role of law enforcement and their ability to inflict violence.
IF YOU HAVE…
- 10 MINUTES: Read this article that explains what activists envision when they call to defund the police, and why they are disillusioned by reforms.
- 20 MINUTES: Watch this video that unpacks the calls to reform, defund, and abolish the police with some of the leaders of these movements.
- 45 MINUTES: Explore this list of policy solutions informed by data, research and human rights principles that focus on harm reduction.
TODAY’S CHALLENGE: THE LEGAL SYSTEM
Much of the recent conversation around criminal justice reform has focused on the fear and violence caused by interactions with the police. It is important to recognize that for those who survive arrest, the trauma and racial inequities continue to multiply as they move through the criminal justice system.
For people who are unfamiliar, the legal process can be a mysterious institution that both works to distribute justice and often perpetuates unjust inequities. For the nearly 80,000 people who were defendants in federal criminal cases in 2018, the legal system served as a critical decision point sometimes marred by bias. Today, we are going to demystify this process by learning about the roles of prosecutors, public defenders, and plea bargains in administering justice.
IF YOU HAVE…
- 10 MINUTES: The 6th Amendment grants criminal defendants the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury, yet 97% of federal cases are settled without a trial. Read this article exploring the impact of plea bargains.
- 20 MINUTES: Prosecutors play a hidden, but critical, role in driving (or reducing) racial inequity in the legal system. Check out this tool to better understand the role of a prosecutor and what they can do to advance equal justice.
- 30 MINUTES: In the U.S. justice system, everyone has the right to an attorney, even if you can’t afford one. But what happens when your lawyer is overworked and underfunded? Listen to this podcast to take a look inside this crisis.
TODAY’S CHALLENGE: MASS INCARCERATION
Despite making up close to 5% of the global population, the U.S. has nearly 25% of the world’s prison population. Since 1970, our incarcerated population has increased by 700% to 2.3 million people in jail and prison today, far outpacing population growth and crime. Look here to learn more about how many people are currently incarcerated in your state.
America’s approach to punishment often lacks a public safety rationale, disproportionately affects people of color, and inflicts overly harsh sentences. 1 out of every 3 Black boys born today can expect to go to prison in his lifetime, as can 1 in every 6 Latino boys — compared to 1 out of every 17 white boys. At the same time, women are the fastest-growing incarcerated population in the United States and face unique challenges behind bars. Today, we are going to learn about mass incarceration, its ancestry in slavery and the 13th Amendment, and current harsh realities.
IF YOU HAVE…
- 5 MINUTES: Watch this video primer on mass incarceration to understand how, for certain demographics of young Black men, the inevitability of prison has been normalized.
- 15 MINUTES: Read this article from The 1619 Project which explores the lasting legacy of slavery and the 13th Amendment on the United States’ mass incarceration issue.
- 30 MINUTES: Listen to this investigation that explores the toll of prison on women, finding that women are disciplined more often than men and almost always for low-level offenses.
TODAY’S CHALLENGE: SOCIETAL IMPACT
Beyond the 2.3 million people in the U.S. who are incarcerated, tens of millions more are dealing with the collateral consequences of punishment. Many cannot vote or get a driver’s license, face barriers to employment, and are prohibited from living with the families who want them back — all because they have a criminal record. These consequences do not just impact the formerly incarcerated individual; they also have a marked impact on their family and community.
When individuals are killed or incarcerated as a result of extreme police bias and inequities in other parts of the criminal justice system, they are taken from their families and communities. This loss has an extreme impact on those left behind, affecting family systems, economic opportunities, and perceptions of safety intergenerationally.
To close out this topic, we are going to focus on the ripple effects of structural racism within our criminal justice system. What is it like to try to survive in this country as a formerly incarcerated individual, and how do families and communities cope with losing loved ones to police violence?
IF YOU HAVE…
- 5 MINUTES: Watch this video that unpacks how returning citizens are routinely denied employment, housing, education, and other benefits that would help ease their integration into life outside a cell.
- 20 MINUTES: Explore “Stolen,” a series of portraits by artist Adrian Brandon that depict the empty space left in the lives of individuals killed by police, representing holes in their families and communities.
- 30 MINUTES: Read this article that explores the positive and negative impacts of sharing viral images of police brutality and what it’s like to lose a family member to police violence.
HOW TO TAKE ACTION
While legislation to reform police practices can be implemented on the state and federal levels, oversight of police accountability, policy, and funding is primarily controlled by local government. Find the contact information for your mayor here and write them a letter asking them to take action to end police brutality by reforming, defunding, or abolishing the police — according to your viewpoint.
Week 3: Racism as a Public Health Crisis - Disparities in Social Determinants
TODAY’S CHALLENGE: COVID-19 AND RACE
While Black people make up 13% of the U.S. population, they make up 23% of COVID-19 deaths where race is known. This means Black people are dying at a rate more than 1.5 times higher than their population share, and 2.4 times higher than white people. Almost one third of Black Americans know someone who has died of COVID-19, and nearly 50% know someone who has been infected.
While staggering, the disproportionately high rates of infection and death in communities of color from coronavirus are not unexpected; This is the result of four centuries of a lack of economic opportunity; substandard housing; living in food deserts; poor environmental conditions; unequal health care; and perpetual racism — leading to higher rates of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, respiratory diseases, and toxic stress.
Being underemployed and underinsured, many Black and brown Americans do not have the economic privilege of staying at home or practicing social distancing. Black workers are less likely to have paid sick leave and more likely to rely on public transportation. Moreover, Black Americans are more likely to be in spaces where they are at high risk of contracting COVID-19: Black men make up the majority of incarcerated Americans; Black women are more likely to serve as caretakers for family members; and families in poverty are more likely to engage in essential work. Despite the advice of health experts, many Black people don’t feel safe wearing a mask in public due to fear of violence and police harassment.
Before picking your daily challenge to unpack these disparities, learn about the impact of COVID-19 by race in your state here.
IF YOU HAVE…
- 10 MINUTES: Read this article that uncovers the ways racial discrimination has shaped the suffering produced by the pandemic.
- 20 MINUTES: Read this essay explaining why we need to stop blaming Black people for dying of COVID-19.
- 1.5 HOUR: Listen to this podcast that explores how historic health inequities explain the present racial disparities in COVID-19 morbidity and mortality.
TODAY’S CHALLENGE: RACISM IN MEDICAL CARE – HISTORY AND LEGACY
It is well-established that minority groups in the U.S. experience more illness, worse outcomes, and premature death compared with whites. What is not talked about as often is the legacy of racism and discrimination and ongoing issues with bias that perpetuate racial disparities in health outcomes. Today, we will explore that history and look at how bias continues to show up in our contemporary health care system.
IF YOU HAVE…
- 5 MINUTES: Read this article that explores how conscious and unconscious beliefs by medical providers shape the quality of medical care provided to people of color.
- 10 MINUTES: Watch this video exploring how the U.S. medical system is still haunted by slavery, particularly when it comes to Black women’s health.
- 15 MINUTES: Read this article that discusses the roots of racism in health care and how that history impacts the care Black people receive today.
TODAY’S CHALLENGE: RACISM AND TOXIC STRESS
“Racial discrimination has many faces. It is not being able to hail a cab, getting poor service in stores and restaurants, being treated unfairly at work, being treated unfairly by law enforcement, and being followed around in stores because of racial stereotypes,” said Amani M. Allen, an associate professor of epidemiology and community health sciences in UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health.
In the early 2000s, the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child coined the term “toxic stress” to describe extensive, scientific knowledge about the effects of excessive activation of stress response systems on brain development, as well as the immune system, metabolic regulatory systems, and cardiovascular system. Studies have shown that experiencing racism triggers all of these interacting stress response systems.
When a person experiences daily manifestations of racism like those listed above, the experiences will trigger an excessive and long-lasting stress response, which can have a wear-and-tear effect on the body, like revving a car engine for days or weeks at a time. This creates a state of biological imbalance that leaves certain groups of people more susceptible to diseases like COVID-19, and explains phenomena like the increased infant mortality rate in communities of color.
Follow the links below to learn more about how the toxic stress of racism contributes to poorer health outcomes for marginalized communities.
IF YOU HAVE…
TODAY’S CHALLENGE: ENVIRONMENTAL RACISM
One racial injustice frequently overlooked is the effect of discrimination on the environment a community is based in. Environmental racism refers to the way in which minority group neighborhoods are burdened with a disproportionate number of hazards, including toxic waste facilities, garbage dumps, and other sources of environmental pollution and foul odors that lower quality of life. All around the country, members of minority groups bear a greater burden of the health problems that result from higher exposure to waste and pollution.
For example, research shows that environmental racism pervades all aspects of African-Americans’ lives: environmentally unsound housing, schools with asbestos problems, facilities and playgrounds with lead paint. A 20-year comparative study led by sociologist Robert Bullard determined “race to be more important than socioeconomic status in predicting the location of the nation’s commercial hazardous waste facilities” (Bullard et al 2007).
Why does environmental racism exist? Mainly because those with resources — most often non-minority communities — can raise awareness, money, and public attention to ensure that their communities are unsullied, leading to an inequitable distribution of environmental burdens.
Explore today’s challenges to learn more about the impact of environmental racism on community health.
IF YOU HAVE…
- 5 MINUTES: Watch this video that explains why African-Americans face disproportionate rates of lead poisoning, asthma, and environmental harm.
- 10 MINUTES: Read this article that explains how racist housing policies in the U.S. are linked to deadly heatwave exposure.
- 20 MINUTES: Read this article uncovering the root causes of asthma in urban environments.
TODAY’S CHALLENGE: RACISM IS A PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS
Hundreds of years of slavery, racism, and discrimination in this country have compounded to deliver poor health outcomes for Black people that are being magnified under the lens of the current coronavirus pandemic. As we’ve discussed this week, the legacy of racism in health spaces has also led communities of color to have less trust in health institutions, further widening these disparities. Moreover, other elements of systemic racism such as police brutality, everyday discrimination, and housing segregation manifest tangible negative health outcomes like toxic stress, infant mortality, and asthma.
Starting last summer in Milwaukee, local and state officials began declaring racism as a public health crisis, setting the stage for communities to look at these issues systemically and tackle the social determinants that have led to poorer health outcomes for Black and brown Americans. Today’s challenge is going to unpack these declarations to discover why they are important, and what comes next.
IF YOU HAVE…
- 20 MINUTES: Read this article that unpacks the impact of declaring racism a public health crisis.
- 30 MINUTES: Read this article to understand why police violence needs to be addressed as a public health issue.
- 45 MINUTES: Listen to this podcast that explores Milwaukee County’s decision to declare racism a public health crisis (the first in the nation).
HOW TO TAKE ACTION
Sign on to our petition asking the Ohio General Assembly to make Ohio the first state to declare racism a public health crisis. Don’t live in Ohio? Find out if your community has made a declaration here.
Week 4: Coming Together, Moving Forward: On A Mission to Make a Difference
TODAY’S CHALLENGE: PROTEST
In the wake of George’s Floyd’s murder, protests have erupted across the United States, reaching all 50 states and including more than 4,700 demonstrations. Recent polls suggest that between 15 million to 26 million people have showed up to a protest in the last month, potentially making Black Lives Matter — founded in 2013 by three Black women in response to the murder of Trayvon Martin — the largest protest movement in American history. The impact of these protests is already evident through an amplified focus on anti-racism across our society and in several cities where steps have been taken toward broad police reform.
Today’s challenge content is going to focus on protesting as a critical form of civic engagement. Protected by the First Amendment, Americans have a long history of protesting to inspire social change. A protest is an event or action where people gather with others to publicly express their opinions about something that is happening in society. There are a variety of potential reasons that individuals organize and attend protests: to influence public opinion; draw attention to and share information about an injustice; gain a wide audience for a cause; push public policy or legislation forward; learn more about an issue; connect with others who feel passionate about the issue; speak one’s truth; and to bear witness. People often feel called to protest after they feel as though they’ve exhausted all other methods for their voices to be heard. Protests can provide inspiration, solidarity, and a sense of being part of a larger movement.
Interested in joining a local protest in support of Black lives? Check out this guide to protesting safely.
IF YOU HAVE…
- 10 MINUTES: Read this op/ed that explores the focus on looting and questions why our society appears to value property over Black lives.
- 20 MINUTES: Listen to these activists talk about what inspired them to show up for Black Lives Matter protests.
- 30 MINUTES: Read this article that unpacks the effectiveness of protest in sparking systemic change.
HOW TO TAKE ACTION
Support Black Lives Matter protests from home by signing petitions and contacting Louisville officials to demand justice for Breonna Taylor, a first responder who was killed by police on March 13 while asleep in her home.
TODAY’S CHALLENGE: VOTING
While it sometimes feels tired and underwhelming as a constant response when facing life-or-death issues like police brutality and public health crises, voting is our most fundamental source of civic power. Citizens in the United States are able to cast votes to choose political representatives like senators; public officials like prosecutors and judges; and implement policy through functions like the ballot initiative.
These votes have real, tangible results. In 2018, voters in Nashville passed an amendment that created an independent police oversight board with the power to investigate police misconduct; and voters in Santa Clara County, California, voted out the judge who gave a privileged white college student a lenient sentence for sexual assault.
Our elected officials and their appointees decide what our taxes pay for, what kind of education our children get, what counts as a crime, and where toxic waste is dumped. The power of the vote allows us to elect public officials who prioritize the issues that we care about — including by centering racial equity and social justice in decision making.
Today, we are going to unpack why voting still matters, particularly as voter suppression efforts continue to undermine our democracy.
IF YOU HAVE…
- 5 MINUTES: Explore this infographic that explains how your vote connects to criminal justice reform.
- 10 MINUTES: Read this article that unpacks the increased barriers faced by Black and brown voters during a pandemic.
- 15 MINUTES: Read this op/ed that explains that while voting might feel inadequate, it’s critical to? implement systemic change.
HOW TO TAKE ACTION
Check your voter registration and text three friends to challenge them to do the same.
TODAY’S CHALLENGE: BEING AN ANTI-RACIST ACCOMPLICE
As you approach the end of the Challenge, you’re probably starting to wonder what comes next. Have I fulfilled my duties as an anti-racist by digesting this content for 21 days? The answer is no. While this challenge may have been your first step to engaging in racial justice work, there is a lot of work to be done to dismantle systemic racism, and we need everyone, in every space, to do it.
While this Challenge focused on racism in two specific industries — criminal justice and healthcare — systemic racism exists in every corner of our society. Each of us is responsible for using our privilege to address racism when it shows up and be proactively anti-racist in the spaces we inhabit, like our job, school, religious institution, family, or neighborhood.
This is critical because we often inhabit monolithic spaces where diverse perspectives aren’t heard. Often, being actively anti-racist will require us to give something up — our comfort, a relationship, a job opportunity, or a policy that benefits us — in order to dismantle racist systems. If we really want to eliminate racism, we must commit to being active accomplices even when it’s hard, rather than engaging in performative activism.
As the second challenge below states, “An accomplice is often seen as a negative, usually someone who helps another commit a crime. But in today’s world, especially in the matters of protesting police brutality and celebrating Black lives, we need accomplices.”
IF YOU HAVE…
- 5 MINUTES: Watch this video that unpacks how to turn performative action into true allyship.
- 10 MINUTES: Read this article that explains that difference between being an ally and an accomplice.
- 1 HOUR: Explore this guide with tools to respond to instances of racism in your everyday life.
HOW TO TAKE ACTION
Make a list of all of the spaces you inhabit and then write down one way you can bring your anti-racism work to each space. Getting stuck? A great place to start is broaching the topic with others in that space.
TODAY’S CHALLENGE: COMING TOGETHER, MOVING FORWARD
Congratulations — you’ve completed the special 2020 edition of the YWCA Dayton Racial Equity and Social Justice Challenge! Thank you to our community partners, our dedicated staff, and YOU for your continuous engagement. We are so impressed by the community’s response to this Challenge, but even more impressed by our community’s desire to invoke real change.
These 21 days were thoughtfully curated to inform you, to challenge you, to make you uncomfortable, and to inspire you. It is our hope that you, and the 6,000+ others who committed to the Challenge, now feel empowered to use your voice and be a stronger social justice advocate. Please take a few minutes to let us know how we did and what we can improve upon for next time:
YWCA’s story is one of women working together intentionally across lines of economic, generational, ethnic, and racial differences to combat the barriers that limit constructive options and outcomes for women and girls. YWCA recognizes that it is impossible to empower all women without also addressing institutional and structural racism. Our intersectional approach challenges us to place those who are most often marginalized at the center of our strategic efforts to eliminate racism and empower women.
YWCA is the world’s oldest and largest multicultural organization for women. For 150 years, YWCA Dayton has been a convener of women’s voices – elevating their needs, triumphs, and challenges so that together, we all rise. At our core, we advocate for an end to discrimination against women in every sphere — economic, political, and social – and lead the way for every woman to become a driving force behind her own success in a community free of racial and economic barriers.
IF YOU HAVE…
- 5 MINUTES: Commit to continuing your anti-racist education even beyond the Challenge by picking a book from this reading list. AND ALSO: Buy your book from a Black-owned bookstore (and be patient while you wait for it to arrive).
- 20 MINUTES: Check out this guide to strengthening our democracy through philanthropy and learn how monetary resources can help eliminate racism. AND ALSO: Donate to Until It Is Eliminated, YWCA Dayton’s campaign to sustain racial justice.
- 30 MINUTES: Read this interactive guide on how to effectively exercise your citizen power in politics and use your voice for systemic impact. AND ALSO: Sign up to volunteer with YWCA Dayton to help register voters (yes, even virtually!).
WAYS TO PROCESS
We want to know what you thought about our challenges!
- Participating as a group? Download our discussion guides to foster conversation and reflection:
- Share your reflections on social media using the hashtags #YWCAEquityChallenge and #ABetterWayABetterDAY and tag us @ywcadayton.
- Join the 21-Day Challenge Facebook group to connect with fellow participants.
- Continue the conversation during our weekly Y-Dub Discussions, held virtually from noon-1 p.m. every Thursday during the Challenge: July 9. Click each date to register and receive the event link.
DID YOU KNOW? Only about 9% of grant-making from foundations goes into communities of color. Make a gift to YWCA today and support our mission to eliminate racism, empower women, and promote peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all.