Greenwich Time 28.April.2019: OpEd by Mary Lee A. Kiernan, President and CEO, YWCA Greenwich
On Friday, YWCA Greenwich rallied local citizens and leaders for the 2019 Stand Against Racism. Building a strong and just community is central to the mission of the YWCA. Stand Against Racism is a signature event of YWCAs across the country who are standing together to raise awareness about the negative impact of all forms of racism and build stronger communities among those who work for racial justice.
More than 100 organizations joined us in committing to take a Stand Against Racism, and they are listed on a poster that will hang in Town Hall and at YWCA Greenwich for the next year. There is also a full-page ad donated by the Greenwich Time in today’s paper – an important statement about the support for racial justice across our community.
This was the 11th year that YWCA Greenwich has sponsored the event. Since our last Stand Against Racism, the signs of bigotry and hatred have sadly increased.
According to the FBI’s latest statistics, hate crimes jumped 17% in 2017, more than three times the rate of increase in 2016. Within that 17% rise, there was a 23% increase in religion-based hate crimes, the highest since the 9/11 tragedy, an 18 % rise in race-based hate crimes and a 23% rise in crimes against Latinos.
Since we were together last April, the deadliest attack on the Jewish Community in the United States took place when 11 members of the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburg were killed during morning Shabbat services.
Since we were together last April, the Christchurch shootings in New Zealand took place where a gunman described as a white supremacist killed 50 Muslim worshippers at two different mosques during midday prayers.
And last Sunday, approximately 350 Christians were killed as they worshipped or celebrated Easter in Sri Lanka.
Why recall events from so far away? First and foremost, out of respect for victims and their families, and secondly, out of our shared concern that something so hateful might grow and flourish in our own community.
How do we fight against this kind of hatred of others, hatred of those who may be different, who speak or look or worship differently? The answer starts at home, in an examination of the way we each live our lives, treat our neighbors and function within our community.
Since we were together last April, YWCA Greenwich has embarked on this kind of self-examination. We have embarked on what we call our YWCA DIVE Project. DIVE stands for Diversity, Inclusion, Values and Equity.
This initiative involves an assessment of our diversity – among our staff, our clients, our constituents and our leadership; an intentional plan to promote equity in our ongoing programs, our practices and our initiatives; and a goal to be a leader in inclusivity as an organization, whether among participants in our programs or how we welcome the community to our building or how we function as a community coalition builder.
In other words, we will improve our own performance and skills in diversity, equity and inclusion. We will also deliver training modules for every patron or constituent that comes to YWCA Greenwich.
The mission of YWCA Greenwich and YWCAs everywhere is to eliminate racism, empower women and promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. There is no other mission like this in the community. Our new DIVE Project aligns our practices, our thinking and our physical space with that profound mission in a very meaningful way. We hope this inspires others to embark on similar self-assessments as we all seek to build a more inclusive and respectful community.
On behalf of YWCA Greenwich, we extend our thanks to everyone who attended our Stand Against Racism and to all who partner with us in promoting racial justice in our community.