Over the last few months, our community and our country have faced many challenges. From COVID-19 to the killings of Black Americans, each event has exposed and illuminated the racial disparities and injustices that we, at YWCA, have been calling attention to for years. We watched the video of a white woman in New York City’s Central Park call the police on a black man who only asked her to leash her dog in a section of the park where it was required; we watched the video of Ahmaud Aubrey jogging in his own neighborhood being “hunted” like an animal and killed in the middle of the street; we witnessed an officer place his knee on the neck of George Floyd for 8 minutes and 45 seconds, watching his soul leave his body. And yes, all of this occurred while our country is still dealing with a pandemic that is disproportionately affecting communities of color.
Our country has seen protests before. Injustices are not new in the United States. Black Americans have been marching and demanding fairness for years. What makes this time different? Is it the pandemic that has drawn individuals out in large masses because they are tired of being confined
in their homes for months? Is it that people are tired of seeing and hearing about the senseless loss of black and brown lives?
June 25 will mark one month since George Floyd’s murder. Protestors and activists are still lining the streets demanding something different – demanding a change in police practices and procedures; demanding justice for the lives lost. Let’s be clear, police brutality isn’t the only thing that has contributed to the civil unrest; institutional racism is a driving force behind so many of the challenges we see. The challenges are intersectional and multi-layered.
Although individual incidents like the killing of Keith Lamont Scott in 2016 and George Floyd in 2020 impact us at our core, we cannot forget to look at the underlying issues. A lack of affordable housing, unemployment, food insecurity, and disparities in education and health outcomes are all systemic issues that disproportionately affect communities of color and underlie each of these individual incidents. In order to dismantle racism, it must begin within our systems – the institutions that define our communities.
YWCA’s Stand Against Racism event could not have come at a better time. We are planning a dynamic forum that will help our community answer the “What’s next?” question as we look at inequities in Charlotte’s institutions. Our forum, How COVID-19 has Impacted our Systems, will feature guest speakers who lead many of our systems with action. We will ask these leaders how their systems have been impacted by COVID-19 and how they are working to support communities of color through this pandemic.
During our Stand Against Racism on June 26, we will encourage individuals to take that fight to the ballot box and remove from power those who continue to perpetuate the cycle of racism, hate, and injustice by voting in people who align themselves with the values and ideals of fairness and equality for all. We will also encourage individuals to complete the Census 2020, so that funding for services and resources in our underserved communities can become more readily available, becoming the rule rather than the exception.
As our community continues to grapple with all of the challenges we face, YWCA invites you to join us in taking action! Join us on June 25th and 26th, with our community partners, to take a stand, the stand that matters – the Stand Against Racism!