HAMPTON ROADS, Va.— The YWCA’s mission is to eliminate racism and empower women. Mary Kate Andris, YWCA of South Hampton Roads President and CEO, says they haven’t focused on dismantling racism.
“Everyone always talks about diversity, equity and inclusion, and those are all really important, but racism exists in our country. It's structural, institutional and it's been around too long; it's time to move the needle. It's time to get rid of it,” says Andris.
They launched the 21-Day Racial Equity and Social Justice Challenge.
Participants are asked to make daily time and space to build more effective social justice habits for 21 days.
“We want you to read. We want you to reflect. If you're a journaler, you can journal. We want you to talk at the dinner table; we want you to talk to family. We want you to educate your friends,” says Andris.
Articles, podcasts, recommendations for movies and books are emailed Monday – Friday every morning after a person signs up.
July 1 is the first day of the challenge. Participants were asked to complete 3 5-minute activities, including taking a pledge against racism.
“That means that, 'I promise to call it out if I see it. I promise to check somebody when they say something that's inappropriate. I promise to read and learn and listen.' I think a lot of things that we need to do right now, especially as white people, is listen,” says Andris.
All YWCAs in Virginia are launching the challenge.
More than 350 people have signed up for the challenge with the South Hampton Roads chapter. They hope those who don’t will still commit to finding resources to learn and listen.
“There's lots of things to watch: Verna Myers, Kimberle Crenshaw, Mellody Hobson - they'll have amazing TED talks that talk about being colorblind or color brave about unconscious bias about the intersectionality."
In order to change society, the YWCA believes we have to change ourselves first.
“Before we can get comfortable, we have to have the conversation. It is 2020. Come on,” says Andris.