Tag Archives: racial justice

We Will Not Normalize Racism

14 Aug

We are outraged, saddened and disgusted by the display of bigotry and hatred from the white supremacist groups in Charlottesville, VA this weekend. This act of hate and terrorism was directly responsible for the death of a young woman, Heather Heyer, and injuries to numerous others who gathered to stand against racism in all of its forms.

YWCA Asheville stands in solidarity to grieve for the victims of this latest tragedy, including two law enforcement officers, and show our unrelenting dedication to the elimination of racism. While we hold this space, we keep in the forefront of our minds that this is not an isolated incident or an unprecedented one. Our country’s long history and ongoing legacy of racism continue to plague our country with violence, oppression and white supremacy.

We must listen, trust and empathize with people of color, LGBTQ people, faith communities and other groups who suffer under personal and systemic injustices of discrimination and inequities. We will not normalize racism. We will not normalize domestic terrorism. Every day we must work towards an ideal that all people are created equal and have the right to live a life without fear.

Our nation’s strength and resilience stems from our diversity and contributions made by people of different races, genders, faiths, sexual orientations and political beliefs. We call on our white allies to recognize white privilege and racial bias, and to commit to rejecting all forms of hatred, bigotry, and intolerance.

As stated in Heather Heyer’s last message to us all, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.”


Read more in YWCA USA’s statement including words from association leadership at YWCA Central Virginia and YWCA Richmond.

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.

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
email Elders Fierce for Justice at eldersffj@gmail.com

Video production by Studio Misha

2013 Stand Against Racism a Great Success!

21 May

Once again the YWCA Stand Against Racism was a great success. According to a follow-up survey sent to participating groups, over 5,000 people participated in Stand Against Racism activities this year.

Stand Coalition Co-Chair Kathryn Liss, Dr. JeffriAnne Wilder, Stand Coalition Member James Lee.

Stand Coalition Co-Chair Kathryn Liss, Dr. JeffriAnne Wilder, Stand Coalition Member James Lee. Dr. Wilder’s talk at the YMI was sponsored by Mission Health.

Here are some of the things people had to say about the 2013 Stand:

“It gets the word out and gives people a platform from which to address this issue.”

“I like the variety of events offered.”

“Energy, enthusiasm, important messages.”

“I loved the conference at UNC Asheville. Hearing from Dr. Livingston and talking with community members about the challenges our community faces regarding creating inclusive cultures was eye opening.”

“Our volunteers were proud to wear the stickers throughout the day and the evening’s performance.”

“It’s something tangible that students can participate in and feel good about.”

“Synergy of the individuals and organizations that participated. Collaboration is how we are going to create critical mass and momentum to make change.”

“Diversity of activities going on.”

“The opportunity to see the support of the City and County.”

“It brings awareness to our community.”

“Thoughtful dialogue about subtle racism.”

“I love that it’s a growing local and national movement – that helped everyone feel part of a bigger whole. Loved the ongoing reminders and increasing amount of support and resources being given to help us conduct our events.”

“I like seeing different organizations put on different events that suit their style /mission / purpose. I like how the events all crossed many lines other than racism, like how the film at the UU church also addressed LGBT and political issues.”

“Knowing that so many in our community were focused and aware of these relevant issues at the same time.”

“Great coalition building.”

“Keeping this important issue in front of the public.”

Sign Up Today for the 2013 Stand Against Racism!

27 Feb

The YWCA’s Stand Against Racism, which happens annually in April, is a partnership of YWCA Associations throughout the country with the goal of bringing people together from all walks of life to raise awareness that issac dickson 3racism still exists and that it can no longer be ignored or tolerated. Our strength is in numbers!

Any group of any size can become a Participating Site of the Stand Against Racism: corporations large or small, schools (from elementary schools to universities), government agencies, non-profit or civic organizations, hospitals, churches or synagogues, even two neighbors gathered around a kitchen table.

Are you interested in participating? The 2013 Stand Against Racism is now open for registration. There is no cost to participate, and we will mail you materials. Simply go to www.ywcastand.org to sign up to be a part of this year’s Stand. Please note that you need to go to the site to sign up for 2013 even if you have participated in the past.

The national YWCA Stand Against Racism day is April 26, but, as in previous years, events in our community will happen during late April and into May, including the YWCA Black & White Gala on May 2.

SAR_logo_whiteYour business, organization or faith group can participate in the Stand in whatever way works best for you – everything from wearing “racism hurts everyone” buttons, to watching a film with your staff, attending another group’s event, to organizing a workshop or rally. YWCA Director of Communications Ami Worthen can help you decide how to make this a meaningful experience. She can be reached at 254-7206 x 203 or by email at ami.worthen@ywcaofavl.org.

One way your business or organization can participate in this year’s Stand is to agree to send representatives to “Realizing the Benefits of a Diverse and Inclusive Workforce,” a conference that will be held from 8:30 am until 2 pm on Thursday, April 25 at the Sherrill Center. This conference, which is sponsored by City of Asheville and Buncombe County Government in partnership with UNC Asheville, will provide information about research-based best practices to recruit, retain and promote a diverse work force, and provide guidance on the development of mentoring strategies. If you sign up for the Stand, we will email you when the registration is open for this event.

With your support we can continue to grow this project and support greater inclusivity and equity in Asheville and Buncombe County.

Join the 2012 Stand Against Racism!

21 Feb

The YWCA of Asheville invites the community to participate in the third annual “Stand Against Racism.” The Stand Against Racism is a program of the YWCA aimed at raising awareness that racism still exists and that it can no longer be ignored or tolerated. Events will be held during April. A focus of this year’s Stand is “Common Spaces,” and trainings will be offered on how to make common spaces more welcoming. Details about these trainings and other planned events will be posted at www.ywcastand.org.

“Today, the YWCA of Asheville is calling on all local organizations, corporations, churches and other houses of worship, government agencies and individuals in Buncombe County to join with us by becoming a participating site of the 2012 Stand Against Racism,” announced Ami Worthen, YWCA Marketing Director. “Any group of any size that believes in a society free of racism is invited to join us.” Last year Asheville had 159 participating sites, the most of any YWCA in the country.

Any organization or group of individuals can become a participating site by signing up through the Stand Against Racism Web site: www.ywcastand.org.  A participating group can host a Stand Against Racism event at their own location, or can attend another Stand event or training. Participation in the Stand Against Racism is free and becoming a participating site is very simple. The YWCA will provide materials to guide the process. Each organization’s “stand” will range from gatherings at work to larger scale stands like rallies and marches. No matter what shape the “stand” takes in each participating site, all activities will echo the theme “racism is unacceptable.” Organizations are urged to visit www.ywcastand.org to join this important movement.

The persistence and pervasiveness of racism divides our community and keeps individuals from achieving success in education, economics, employment, and quality of life. Strength comes from numbers.

Different Strokes! Presents “Shotgun”

21 Sep

Different Strokes! Performing Arts Collective Presents Shotgun

Different Strokes! Performing Arts Collective and the YWCA of Asheville are excited to announce an upcoming production of John Biguenet’s Shotgun, coming September 29 through October 8 at Asheville’s BeBe Theatre.

A portion of proceeds will benefit Building Bridges of Asheville, which endeavors to overcome racism by community dialogue.

Shotgun is a thought-provoking play set in post-Katrina New Orleans. In the words of The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, “playwright John Biguenet exposes with power and grace the wounds that remain and examines how they might best be healed.”

The play follows a white man and his teenage son who rent half of a shotgun duplex from an African-American woman, whose father has lost his home in the Lower Ninth Ward and moved in with her. The two families find that more than just a wall runs between them. Shotgun explores whether this divide, like the city’s levees, can be breached.

Shotgun is not just about an African American family sharing a roof with a white family,” says Stephanie Hickling Beckman, Different Strokes! Performing Arts Collective’s Managing Artistic Director. “One of the lovely things about Shotgun is that it is less of a play about race and completely a play about people. At its core, Shotgun is about people and the similarities they share as human beings despite their differences.”

The cast features Chuck Beattie, Gary Gaines, Angela Joyce, Jake McNair and Peter Millis. Stephanie Hickling Beckman directs and Caitlin Lane serves as stage manager.

The show runs two weekends only: September 29 – October 8, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. at the BeBe Theatre, located at 20 Commerce St in downtown Asheville. Tickets are $15. Reservations are strongly recommended and may be made by emailing differentstrokesavl@gmail.com or calling (828) 490-1405. Food, wine and beer will be offered by donation.

Friday, October 7’s performance will be followed immediately by a talkback session with the audience, facilitated by members of Building Bridges of Asheville. To support the profound necessity of Building Bridges’ mission, members of Different Strokes! Performing Arts Collective’s Board of Directors are participating in the program’s fall 2011 seminar.

Based on their mission to eliminate racism, the YWCA of Asheville is partnering with Different Strokes! Performing Arts Collective to produce Shotgun. Different Strokes! Performing Arts Collective endeavors to increase and sustain the opportunity for more diversity within the performing community and on the stages of Western North Carolina by producing and presenting works which confront issues of social diversity in a provocative way.