Watering Our Tree
A strong tree is strong because of its roots, not its individual branches.
Current project: building internal capacity
The YWCA is a 501c3 nonprofit corporation. A 501c3 is a federal tax category which allows us to operate with a slightly lighter financial burden. In order to ensure the slight benefits that come with the status aren't exploited, an oversight "board" of community members is required by law to provide oversight.
Our board members receive at least six trainings a year on racial justice.
In a way, board training is an accountability exchange. The board helps the YWCA be accountable to our community ethically and financially, and we help them develop accountability to address one of the fundamental problems of our age: pernicious and ongoing racism.
Recent training topics have included: resource inequity, white privilege, history of race and racism in America, racism in Spokane, intersections of violence against women, and racism state violence
Program and Practice Review
Creating a climate of equality requires examining programs and practices through a lense of racial justice and cultural competency. The YWCA is currently developing a process to review programs to ensure that our programs are welcoming of diversity.
Why would a women's organization organize around racism?
A few ways that racism has a direct impact on women in Spokane:
· Having limited or no access to the criminal justice system, as it presents a potential safety risk due to a history and present of overpolicing of people of color
· Having limited or no access to the criminal justice system because of limited English skills or being a migrant worker and not having papers
· Battering husbands who take their wives to the States, and then use their shaky legal status as a mechanism of control
· Service providers in the community not providing culturally relevant programatic content
But, perhaps most importantly:
· You cannot split a person into two: the experience of sexism and the experience of racism are not something that women of color can prioritize
· This idea has been referred to as "intersectionality," and without acknowledging the lived experiences of women of color, our advocacy fails before it starts
The roots of our movement and our ongoing struggle
Consider the following passage from a collective of Black Feminists.
One issue that is of major concern to us and that we have begun to publicly address is racism in the white women's movement. As Black feminists we are made constantly and painfully aware of how little effort white women have made to understand and combat their racism, which requires among other things that they have a more than superficial comprehension of race, color, and Black history and culture. Eliminating racism in the white women's movement is by definition work for white women to do, but we will continue to speak to and demand accountability on this issue.
-From the Combahee River Collective Statement
Early anti-violence movement frustration and little accountability for missteps and marginalization of of-color allies created a stage for the YWCA to take bold action.
Your YWCA has always been bold about race
· In the thirties, the YWCA set its face against lynching and mob violence and supported the struggle for civil rights for African Americans in the United States. The first interracial seminar in the South took place at Shaw University, Raleigh, North Carolina in 1938.
· During World War II, discrimination against Japanese Americans led to thousands being forced from their homes into relocation camps in desolate areas by order of the United States government. The YWCA extended its services to the relocation centers and opened their facilities to Japanese Americans as they prepared for resettlement.
· Between 1950 and 1970, the YWCA remained on the cutting edge in support of the Civil Rights Movement, which culminated at the YWCA's April 1970 convention when the organization adopted its One Imperative: "To thrust our collective power towards the elimination of racism wherever it exists."
We integrated working environments 40 years before the civil rights movement.
The YWCA of Spokane proudly carries the tradition of challenging racism in the boldest way you can in 2011: by honestly peering inside yourself, and evaluating yourself through the eyes of others.