June 4, 2020
Day and night for the past week, we have witnessed thousands of people filling the streets in cities across the United States to demand justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and other victims of state-sanctioned violence and systemic racism.
Just outside of the Seneca and Opportunity Place YWCA’s in downtown Seattle, we have seen crowds gather in a collective expression of grief and frustration, to #SayTheirNames, and to provoke accountability and change in our community.
We cannot let the actions of individuals and institutions who do not support the movement for racial justice distract from the purpose of these protests – to call out the long history of systemic racism in our country, state-sanctioned violence against Black communities, and deep-seated inequities faced by people of color.
YWCA stands in solidarity with Black Americans, who are disproportionately incarcerated, assaulted, and killed compared to any race in the United States. “George Floyd was one of ours,” said Gaye Adams Massey, CEO of YWCA St. Paul. “He took advantage of a training program YWCA offered, and like many of those we partner with, he was taking steps to build a brighter future. The anger, anguish, and grief we are feeling in this community is real.”
“Unfortunately, George Floyd is just one of countless other Black lives lost to police violence,” said Michelle Basham, CEO of YWCA Minneapolis. “We must work toward racial justice. And we must work in partnership with others to hold our elected officials and law enforcement accountable.”
Even during a global pandemic, we must come together to call for the people responsible for these acts to be held accountable, and to fight for change in systems that perpetuate oppression and discrimination. Nothing will change until we speak up and dismantle these systems.
You don’t have to put your health at risk or stand on the front lines to make a difference. Sign a petition, make a donation, volunteer for a phone bank, speak up, and just do something.
Show that Black lives matter by reading and sharing articles by Black public figures, organizations, and activists. Support Black-owned businesses in your community.
Understand that for Black Americans, police brutality isn’t a new issue. Our institutions were built on a foundation of racism and discrimination, and our nation’s history is filled with incidents of state-sanctioned violence against Black Americans.
YWCA is dedicated to eliminating racism and empowering women, and our mission remains as important today as it has ever been. This is difficult work, and it will take each and every one of us to make it happen. We are committed to the work of racial justice, and each one of you is critical to that work.
Thank you for joining YWCA on a mission to eliminate racism, empower women, and transform our community with equity and justice.
Maria Chavez Wilcox
CEO of YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish
To learn more about these issues, here are some online resources to check out:
Maria Chavez-Wilcox is the Chief Executive Officer of YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish. She is the organization's first Latina CEO and has over thirty years of experience as a nonprofit executive, social services advocate, community leader, and philanthropist
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