YWCA Richmond’s Commitment to Racial Justice
The anger, frustration, anguish, and grief that is pouring into our city is indicative of the centuries of inequity imposed by racist systems. The demand for justice for the murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery – and too many others – is the same cry we’ve heard year after year as black people are killed for no other reason than the color of their skin. Living a day, a week, a lifetime under the violence of racism is unacceptable. And, can no longer be normalized. Black Lives Matter.
Our city, state, and nation cannot continue to criminalize race and tolerate violence in any form. The disparate treatment of black community members, especially black women, in education and child care, health care, housing, and economic systems must be confronted and addressed. The recent statement from Michelle Obama has resonated with us:
“Race and racism is a reality that so many of us grow up learning to just deal with. But if we ever hope to move past it, it can’t just be on people of color to deal with it. It’s up to all of us – Black, white, everyone – no matter how well-meaning we think we might be, to do the honest, uncomfortable work of rooting it out. It starts with self-examination and listening to those whose lives are different from our own. It ends with justice, compassion, and empathy that manifests in our lives and on our streets.”
The work against structural racism and police brutality can’t just be on people of color to deal with alone. We commit ourselves to the work of racial justice. This means continuing to commit ourselves to the ongoing work of confronting our bias as we challenge these systems. This means working harder to engage and amplify women of color as voices for solutions. This means strengthening partnerships with organizations throughout Richmond that do the work against violence and systemic racism, so together we can drive change. We commit ourselves to continue doing the honest, ongoing, and uncomfortable work of rooting out injustice to advance our mission of eliminating racism and empowering women. This means using our voice, platform, and responsibility to push for action and long-term legal, economic, and societal change – to forge a more equitable Richmond.
Senator Jennifer McClellan issued a call to action earlier this week, which we support:
- We must commit to criminal justice reforms that center training in racial and gender bias, crisis de-escalation, and intervention practices for law enforcement and the criminal justice system.
- We must create and enforce methods of review and transparency in investigations of misconduct at all levels.
- We must enact policies that uplift people of color and provide the tools they need to thrive in our economic, education, health, justice, and political systems.
Today’s cry for justice isn’t new. Let’s not continue to close our eyes or be complacent. At YWCA, we will get up and continue to do the work until injustice is rooted out, until institutions are transformed, until the world sees women, girls, and people of color the way we do: Equal. Powerful. Unstoppable.
CEO, YWCA Richmond