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Racial Justice Advocacy & Action in Times of Tragedy

12 Jul

We at the YWCA of Asheville are deeply saddened by the local tragedy of events resulting in the death of Jai “Jerry” Lateef Solveig Williams. We grieve with our community for the loss of another young African-American man.

RacismHurtsEveryone_BlackThis, compounded with the appalling deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile at the hands of law enforcement, deepens our resolve to work towards dismantling systemic racism that undermines our society and threatens us all.
The mission of the YWCA is eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. While details are still emerging through the ongoing investigation of local events, the YWCA of Asheville is committed to working with our community as part of the Racial Justice Coalition to eliminate any and all forms of institutional and structural racism.
Read this statement documenting a meeting with Asheville Police Department Chief Hooper and members of community organizations including the Racial Justice Coalition. As leaders within the Racial Justice Coalition, the YWCA will continue to work closely with APD to ensure truth and accountability emerge from this investigation. Stay connected with us for further updates and dialogue through this Blog and our Facebook and Twitter.

April is Stand Against Racism Month

11 Apr

SAR_Logo_RGBStand Against Racism is a signature campaign of YWCA USA to build community among those who work for racial justice and to raise awareness about the negative impact of institutional and structural racism in our communities.  This year, our theme is On A Mission for Girls of Color! We will amplify the national discussion about the impacts of institutional and structural racism on the lives of girls of color.

Last year, nearly 750 sites in 44 states participated. We are proud that Asheville-Buncombe County is one of the most active Stand locations with over 75 participating sites and 29 different public events in 2015.

A-B Tech Stand

Panel discussion featuring: Stephen Smith, Philip Cooper, Vanessa James, Brent Bailey and Dana Bartlett

This year’s Stand is sure to be just as successful with several exciting events taking place throughout the community. Our kickoff off event took place last Thursday, April 7th, at A-B Tech Community College. This event titled, Ban the Box: Promote Employment Fairness, featured two panel discussions that explored efforts to remove the box that asks about criminal records from employment applications.

Here is a list of upcoming Stand events in April:

  • Pack’s Tavern will Stand Against Racism by hosting Pack’s Day on Monday, April 18th, from 11 am – 11 pm. 10% of all proceeds from this day will benefit the YWCA of Asheville.
  • Pour Taproom will take a Stand by donating 10% of all proceeds from Thursday, April 21st, 6 pm – 9 pm to benefit the YWCA of Asheville.
  • Africa Healing Exchange will host a multicultural celebration and benefit to raise awareness and support trauma healing on Thursday April 21st, from 6-9:30  pm at White Horse Black Mountain. This event will feature grammy-nominated singer Laura Reed, with notable guest performers including African-inspired dancers, artists and speakers. African cuisine provided by Kente Kitchen (cash purchase); full bar; vendors featuring coffee, tea and artisan products for sale from Rwanda.
  • The Asheville Chamber of Commerce is joining with the Buncombe County Government, YWCA of Asheville and Mission Health to take a Stand Against Racism by helping businesses better understand how bias shows up in the workplace. Join Lisa Eby and Lakesha McDay on Thursday, April 28th, 11:30 am – 1 pm for “Grey Matter: Understanding the Brain and Bias”. Have you ever wondered where our biases come from? This session will give you insight into the “grey matter”, the brain, and you will learn that we are ALL wired to be biased! Through an interactive workshop, you will see how bias shows up in each of us and leave with concrete steps to minimize the effects of bias in you and your workplace, making Asheville a more inclusive community.
  • The Martin Luther King Jr. Association of Asheville Buncombe County and the Stephens-Lee Alumni Association are co-sponsoring a Stand Against Racism event on Friday, April 29th, 12 pm – 2 pm at the Stephens Lee Center. This program will focus on African American educators that have paved the way for people of color. The panel discussion will discuss the impact of segregation in the Asheville School system, integration, highlight African American educators, and discuss the role that the Stephens-Lee High School played in the education of African Americans.
  • Jubilee! Community will screen the movie “Cracking the Codes: The System of Racial Inequity ” and host a round table discussion on Friday April 29th from 6:30-8:30 pm. The film invites America to talk about the causes and consequences of systemic inequity, features moving stories from racial justice leaders including Amer Ahmed, Michael Benitez, Barbie-Danielle DeCarlo, Joy DeGruy, Ericka Huggins, Humaira Jackson, Yuko Kodama, Peggy McIntosh, Rinku Sen, Tilman Smith and Tim Wise.
  • Black Mountain Stand Against Racism will host a public event at White Horse Black Mountain on Sunday, May 1st from 2:30-4:30 pm. Award-winning performer Kat Williams, joined by acclaimed musician, author and speaker David LaMotte, will talk & sing about ways to “Stand Against Racism”. Also participating will be Rev. Hilario Cisneros of La Capilla de Santa Maria in Hendersonville, and Buncombe County Register of Deeds Drew Reisinger, who pioneered online postings of actual slave-ownership records. The event will be interspersed with Kat’s inimitable music. Tickets are $10 or $8 for students under 21; available online at http://www.whitehorseblackmountain.com or call (828) 669-0816, with net proceeds going to Kat’s fund for young black men and women.
  • The YWCA of Asheville will take a Stand Against Racism through a series of Racial Justice Workshops for staff, board and volunteers. The Racial Justice Workshops will be held in the Multipurpose Room on the following dates: Monday, April 25, 6 – 7:30 pm, Tuesday, April 26, 6 – 7:30 pm, and Friday, April 29, 12 pm – 1:30 pm. The goals of the Racial Justice Workshop are to learn shared language and concepts related to racial justice, become familiar with the YWCA’s racial justice framework, and grow more comfortable talking about race and racism.

For more information about these events and a full list of Stand Against Racism events visit StandAgainstRacism.org

A-Team Stand SelfieWe encourage you to take a Stand Against Racism by participating in one of these community events, organizing an event of your own, or simply dining out at Pack’s Tavern or having a beer at Pour Taproom to support the YWCA.

Any group of any size can become a participating site of the Stand Against Racism. Participating can be as simple as hanging a poster or wearing your “Stand Against Racism” t-shirt and tagging the YWCA of Asheville as part of our Stand Selfie Campaign. Or you can host a public event, rally or day of service. No matter what shape the “stand” takes in each participating site, you can unite our community in a bold demonstration that delivers a clear message: We are on a mission to eliminate racism.

If you would like more information about Stand Against Racism or are interested in becoming a participating site, please contact Gerry Leonard at 828-254-2706, ext. 219 or gleonard@ywcaofasheville.org.

Video Highlights from the Intergenerational Conversation on Race

10 Nov

On October 1, 2015 the organizations Elders Fierce for Justice, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and the YWCA of Asheville hosted an inter-generational conversation on racial justice.

The panel discussion was moderated by the Rev. Michael Carter, of the Unitarian Universalist of the Swannanoa Valley.

The panel of elders was composed of community activist Issac Coleman, the Rev. Jim Abbott, retired minister at  St. Mattheas Episcopal Church, and Jacquelyn Hallum, director of education at the Mountain Area Health Education Center.

The youth panel was composed of Raekwon Griffin, class president at Asheville High School, Felicia Blow, community organizer for the Campaign for Southern Equality, and Michael Collins, a representative of Showing Up for Racial Justice and staff member at the YWCA of Asheville.

Speakers focused on the persistence of racial in injustice and what can be done about it. Watch a 12-minute video of highlights from the conversation below.

Sponsors for this event
YwcaofAsheville.org
OLLIAsheville.com
email Elders Fierce for Justice at eldersffj@gmail.com

Video production by Studio Misha
studiomisha.com

YWCA of Asheville Summer Camp Children Respond to Charleston

13 Jul

Our YWCA Summer Camp kids sang a song in response to the tragedy in Charleston.

Video by Katie Christie, School Age Director. Song written & produced by Rickey Payton & Voices United.

“Black is beautiful when you understand
It’s not the color of your skin, a woman child or man
White is beautiful together we are free
We are one we are family”

Standing in Solidarity with Charleston

30 Jun

The YWCA of Asheville family has been grieving for the 9 victims of the shooting at Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, SC and their families.

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On June 19, Beth Maczka, our CEO, made the following statement:
“At the YWCA board meeting last night we learned that one board member lost a relative and another lost three Delta sorority sisters in the Charleston shooting. We are all connected – and if we are to prevent future shootings, we must begin acting like these are our family members. Be angry, be sad, be outraged – but feel something and do something. Be a witness, be an ally, be a light in the darkness. Prayers for our sisters and brothers in Charleston.”

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We then called for our staff, members, and supporters to wear their Stand Against Racism t-shirts and join us for photos in front of our marquee sign on S. French Broad Ave, where we had a message of support for Charleston.

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In addition, we invited people to write a reflection for our version of the Wailing Wall in the YW lobby. Sticky notes were available with the following prompts: I feel… I wish… I pray… I need… I will…

Solidarity with Charleston 006

Here is what people responded:

I feel devastated and sad.
I will stand against racism.
My prayers go out to all the families. Bless everyone.
ENOUGH
I will start a conversation about race.
I will continue to spread awareness
Praying
The perpetrator was caught, but the killer is still out there.
#takeitdown
I will not let people around me make racial jokes or comments without my intervention.
I pray for change.
Black lives matter. Life matters, period.
I will pray for you Charleston!
God is good
I pray for peace and love to prevail!
I will speak and act for equality and healing among all races
No more guns in the hands of disturbed young males. Period.
I pray for single mothers everywhere. Stay strong.
I feel love
Kindness is a choice
I pray for world peace
Black lives matter
Let’s go down to the river to pray, studyin about those good ol’ days…
Take down the confederate flag and step into the 21st century!
I am sad and I am angry. Enough is enough!
I feel solidarity with Charleston and awe at the thoughtful and loving way the response has unfolded. You have changed the U.S.
I pray to the good people of the south to stand together and rid us of the confederacy. Pray to move on —
I will… keep asking hard questions
Stand up for peace!
I wish for LOVE and kindness for all people
Black lives matter!
I hope that this tragedy will be followed by justice, peace, and meaningful change!
I will… listen
The time is now!
I will not be a silent witness! I will speak up.
Love will triumph over hate.
My love and prayers are with you all.
Black people count!
Wishes for peace and caring.
I feel we do not live in a ‘post racial’ society
I pray for better dayz (Tupac Shakur)
I need the world to change
I will forgive and pray.
I feel sad when a person comes and kills people in god’s church.
I need a system that does not foster hate behind closed doors.
I will always remember.
I feel… betrayed
I will… sign every petition
I wish… for no more reasons to feel pain
I feel sad
I pray that this will never happen again!
I wish it never happened
I will pray for everyone
I wish awareness will be spread!
I feel like we have to take action – together – as a community.
I wish – it never happened. It would stop. It was never like this. America was not raised racist!
I will forgive, but never forget! Love to Charleston
Be the change
I feel sad
I need… a safe place
I feel disgusted (they were in church!!!)
I am sad!
I pray for peace, clarity, and understanding
We are sending love to everyone affected by this tragedy
I wish we saw only love not race
We shall overcome
True Christianity is shining through the hate.
I don’t understand
Take it down!
It feels like we’re stuck. Why can’t we move forward?
I will start a conversation
I will forgive and pray for the people who had to die
Some things just do not make any sense. We worked too hard to turn back now

Why Do We Take a Stand?

21 Apr

The YWCA’s Stand Against Racism brings people together to raise awareness that racism still exists and can no longer be tolerated. This April is the 7th years we’ve held the Stand in Asheville, and we’re proud that Buncombe County is one of the most active sites – with currently over 70 participating sites and 29 different public eventsMs. E

We are truly appreciative of the community’s support of the YWCA and the Stand Against Racism initiative. Here are some examples of solidarity with the YW Stand:

A-B Tech Community College and the YWCA partnered to bring a community-wide Stand Against Racism kick-off event on Thursday, March 26. The event included Jacquelyn Hallum as the keynote speaker, a panel discussion of community leaders including Beth Maczka, and a host of information tables representing the the organizations that comprise or the Racial Justice Coalition.

The College’s value of inclusiveness and its strategic plan priority, cultivate collaborative relationships to promote and increase a culture of diversity among students, faculty, staff and community stakeholders, speak to A-B Tech’s commitment to doing this work,” says James Lee, Workforce Outreach Coordinator at A-B Tech.061

A-B Tech wants to bring people of all races, classes, and states of employment together — the unemployed, under-employed and employed, as well as decision-makers who can offer employment opportunities. The activities were designed to help participants understand how racism impacts employment and have discussions about solutions and best-practices.”

WNC Adoption Resources hosted filmmaker and Korean adoptee, Barb Lee – who grew up in WNC – to Asheville, for a day-long workshop based on her films’ ‘Adopted’ and ‘Adopted: We Can Do Better.’ The event explored parenting a transracial family, fostering positive identity formation, clarifying parental intentions, and navigating the politics of adoption.

ChristyChristy Tate, Co-Director of WNC Adoption Resources says: “WNC Adoption Resources is an organization dedicated to increasing awareness, education, and support for adoptive families, many of whom have adopted transracially and must address issues of racial identity and racism. We hope that by encouraging dialogue about racial issues with help from individuals such as Barb Lee and her colleagues –  who have personal as well as professional experience and knowledge –  that we will raise consciousness, sensitivity and understanding, which will promote action for positive change. We feel that by taking part in the Asheville YWCA Stand, more of us will know about, have access to, and support programs that will help bring peace to our families, communities, and world.

Spellbound Children’s Bookshop in conjunction with the Stand Against Racism, will create an in-store display of books featuring characters of diverse races and ethnicities. The Saturday morning story time (for ages 3-7 years) will focus on diversity and there will be giveaways of Stand Against Racism buttons and stickers.

“Books are often the first way that children encounter new situations, different places, and different kinds of people,” says Leslie Hawkins, owner of Spellbound Children’s Bookshop. “We look forward to the annual Stand Against Racism as an opportunity to remind parents and other caregivers that books play an important role as both mirrors and windows. For that reason, we are also using this year’s Stand as an opportunity to support the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign. Children of all colors and backgrounds need to see themselves reflected in books they read, and they also need to see characters who don’t look like them at all. We sometimes hear customers say ‘I don’t think my child will relate to that book’ when shown a book featuring a character of a different race. That’s doubtful, first of all, as there is always common ground, and if you really think that’s true, then you should be making a concerted effort to introduce your child to people of different races and backgrounds in books and in everyday life. After all, we should all be able to relate to each other’s stories, shouldn’t we?”

Asheville-Buncombe County Relations Council has been an instrumental community partner for the YWCA and the Stand Against Racism imitative, in embracing responsibility for equity and inclusion.

“When working to address discrimination on a community level, it is imperative that community members collectively work towards resolving issues,” says Lucia Daughtery, Executive Director of Asheville-Buncombe Community Relations Council. “We see the Stand Against Racism Initiative as an opportunity for Asheville and Buncombe County to clearly and publicly state our commitment to ending racism, through participation in concrete collaborative action.”

Two upcoming Stand events include:

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Jubilee_SAR_Flyer

You can view the full list of Stand sites on our website at http://www.ywcaofasheville.org/stand.

2015 Stand Against Racism Event at A-B Tech on March 26

17 Mar

A-B Tech Community College and the YWCA of Asheville are partnering to bring a community-wide Stand Against Racism event to the college from 1 to 4:30 p.m., Thursday, March 26 in Ferguson Auditorium on the Asheville campus. The event is free and open to the public. Read the Asheville Citizen-Times article here.

Jacquelyn Hallum, ‎Director of Health Careers and Diversity Education at the Mountain Area Health Education Center, will be the keynote speaker. She will discuss the history of racism in employment and solutions to the problem. The event is a part of the national YWCA Stand Against Racism campaign, which is designed to build community among those who work for racial justice and to raise awareness about the negative impact of institutional and structural racism. Learn more about the Stand Against Racism and how you can sign up to participate on our website.

A-B Tech's Stand Against Racism event, 2014.

A-B Tech’s Stand Against Racism event, 2014.

Following Hallum’s address, there will be a panel on the history of racism in Asheville, and a second panel on how employers in the region are recognizing and addressing organizational racism.

Panel one will feature:
· Dr. Darin Waters, UNC Asheville History Department
Housing and how it relates to employment in the Asheville community

· Oralene Simmons, MLK Association
Her personal experience growing up in Madison County, being a member of ASCORE, working for the City of Asheville, and being the first African American woman at Mars Hill University

· Beth Mazcka, YWCA
How the YW played a role in helping to desegregate Asheville

· Sharon West, YMI Cultural Center and the VA Hospital
Medical disparities within Asheville

The second panel will feature:

A-B Tech's Stand Against Racism event, 2014.

A-B Tech’s Stand Against Racism event, 2014.

· Lisa Eby, Buncombe County Health and Human Services
What Buncombe County is doing to address institutional racism through employment and services

· Darryl Rhymes, A-B Tech Community College
What A-B Tech is doing to address institutional racism through employment

· Kelly Goins, WNC Diversity Engagement Coalition
How the 6 largest employers in Buncombe County have come together to provide training and networking to support people of color through gaining employment, retention, promotion and community

· Sheriff Van Duncan, Buncombe County Sheriff’s Department
How the Sheriff’s Office is addressing institutional racism through employment and training of officers

· James Lee, Racial Justice Coalition
How organizations that have a mission or program of racial justice have come together to speak against injustice, provide education on citizen rights and build relationships between community members and law enforcement

Panel discussion at the 2014 Stand Against Racism event at A-B Tech.

Panel discussion at the 2014 Stand Against Racism event at A-B Tech.

Annie Burton, Executive Director of School and Community Engagement at UNC Asheville, will served as moderator for the panels. A reception will follow in the Ferguson Lobby from 4-4:30. Members of the Racial Justice Coalition will have displays with calls to action available for public viewing during the entire event.

The YWCA Drop-In Child Care Center will provide free childcare at the YW on S. French Broad Avenue from 1 – 5 p.m. for parents attending this event. Parents will need to provide pertinent information for their children by March 20. Contact Gerry Leonard, Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator for the YW, at 254-7206, ext. 219 or at gleonard@ywcaofasheville.org.

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