A bomb was found on the morning of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day march in Spokane. It didn’t go off. Forums about racism and violence have been held, and now the YWCA is launching a Stand Against Racism campaign.
“We haven’t paid enough attention to the ‘eliminate racism’ part of our mission,” said Trish McFarland, executive director of the YWCA of Spokane. The Y’s mission statement is “eliminating racism, empowering women.”
It’s the second year “the Stand,” as they call it, is making it to Spokane.
Last year the board and staff at the YWCA had their own stand against racism as a way to get to know the idea behind it and the activities that come with it.
“We realize this is not going to end racism in Spokane,” said Grant Stancliff, who coordinates the Stand for the YWCA. “But we also realize you can’t empower anybody unless you tackle racism first.”
It’s a simple concept: individuals, schools, organizations and businesses sign up for the campaign and use some of the informational curriculum provided, share buttons and posters. Most importantly they find a way to talk about racism.
“The bomb at the MLK day march was in-your-face racism, the kind most of us associate with old black-and-white photos,” said Stancliff. “This Stand is acknowledging that we can do lots more about racism in Spokane.” He added that he thinks the bomb at the march threw the community for a loop.
“Whether racism is the motive for the bomb or not, that’s how it made the national news,” he said. “The elephant in the room is racism. We have to talk about it.”
The Stand Against Racism campaign was founded in 2007 by YWCAs in the New Jersey communities of Trenton and Princeton, to bring people with different backgrounds together and focus on racism.
Stancliff and McFarland point out that there are many other organizations here that have worked on tackling racism for many years, and the YWCA has no desire to take over those efforts.
“We want to join those groups and add to the conversation,” said McFarland.
Stancliff said many groups are already signing up, including Washington State University, Whitworth University and Rogers High School.
“We are really looking forward to see what different organizations will do with the Stand,” he said. “We like that the event is not centralized at the Y – it’s all over the community.”
Stancliff said it’s best if one person at each organization takes the campaign as a project.
“You can use the curriculum or not, but it may be helpful,” said Stancliff. “Racism is hard to talk about; it’s surrounded by fear and insecurity. This is one safe and approachable way to talk about racism.”
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