Systematic Racism stifles community growth and development because it limits who can participate and benefit from all that a city offers. It also limits who can become leaders and contribute to making the community better.
YWCA High Point is on a mission to alleviate systemic racism so that everyone in the community is an equal partner in its success. The organization will use its Community Impact Grant from the High Point Community Foundation to begin the process of dismantling racism, one conversation at a time.
With its grant, YWCA has partnered with the Racial Equality Institute (REI) in Greensboro to facilitate a series of educational community workshops to illuminate the racism embedded in our community structure to help individuals and organizations become better at evaluating and remedying racial blind spots.
For example, a school may offer tablets for all kids—which is a boost to learning—but if a fourth of the kids don’t have Internet service in their homes, a fourth of the kids won’t benefit from the free tablets. This sort of oversight is common.
YWCA’s program is a first step, and it’s a big one. The goal is the creation of a coalition of a minimum of ten active community groups by June 2019 to engage the community in conversations around racial issues within High Point.
Systemic racism is a little harder to see than overt bigotry, because it’s often embedded within our systems, institutions and civic processes. If it doesn’t affect everyone, it’s often overlooked.
Majors took an REI workshop as a volunteer for the Say Yes! Guilford program.
“When Say Yes got started they mandated that volunteers attend antiracism training through Guilford County School System in order to be part of the initiative,” said Majors. “YWCA felt that this was a great workshop and we were able to put our leadership team through the traning. .”
The facilitated workshops with REI—an introductory half-day “Groundwater” session followed by a two-day Phase I Workshop—made a strong impression on the group. Majors decided this was an important opportunity for YWCA.
The national and local YWCA organization have a long history of leadership in racial justice. From its beginning it has had Native American and African American leadership. In 1946, YWCA adopted an “interracial charter” that established that “wherever there is injustice on the basis of race, whether in the community, the nation, or the world, our protest must be clear and our labor for its removal, vigorous, and steady.”
“REI donated a ‘Groundwater’ session to to the High Point community last November where over 70 individuals attended.,” said Majors. “YWCA thought is to provide this training to the community as a whole. We will be bringing a coalition together and it’s truly a COMMUNITY grant to bring racial equity to the High Point..”
The board of the YWCA High Point embraced the plan and recommended applying for the Community Impact Grant from the High Point Community Foundation.
The Foundation’s grants committee liked the plan because it addresses an underlying issue and can help make all of the Foundation’s work in High Point more successful.
“High Point Community Foundation has shown its support in eliminating racism,” said Majors.
YWCA will continue to partner with the Foundation and allied community leadership organizations as it rolls out the program.
“What the vision is, is a collective in the community of various groups from all sectors that form a coalition that can take this work further. ,” said Majors. “YWCA allows us to get this started, but ultimately we want groups moving together for the betterment of the community.”
Currently there is a group of community leaders meeting to plan the trainings. The first Groundwater Training will be held in March 2018.