By Asia Nail
The Truth Reporter
The YWCA is gearing up for its annual event, the Racial Justice Challenge, an innovative online program aimed at fostering constructive social justice habits with a specific focus on race, equity, and leadership. With 21 days of engaging challenges, participants will be presented with tasks that uncover the impact of racial and social injustice on our communities, while connecting with one another, and finding ways to dismantle all forms of discrimination. Best of all, participation is completely free!
It’s said that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. Throughout the Racial Justice Challenge, the YWCA provides a dedicated opportunity to explore how race, gender and class intersect in our society, shaping structures that privilege some while excluding others.
“We believe that it is critical to have open, honest conversations about race and racism if we are going to create a more just and equitable society,” said Alexii Collins, Racial Justice director at the YWCA of Northwest Ohio.
“The Racial Justice Challenge is an opportunity for individuals and organizations to engage in this work and to deepen their understanding of the issues at hand. We hope that this initiative will spark meaningful change in our community and beyond.”
At its core, the YWCA is a multi-issue, social change organization committed to improving the multi-racial lives of those it serves. As a community, they firmly believe that change can begin today, with each of us choosing to be a catalyst for reconciliation.
The Racial Justice Challenge starts on April 17. Join thousands of people across the country and ACCEPT THE CHALLENGE! Since they launched in 2019, the YWCA has had over 50,000 participants across the country take the challenge, reaching 2,600 unique ZIP codes.
Download the YWCA’s Racial Justice Challenge App or log on via your web browser to complete learning modules and connect with other participants.
The weekly topics that will be explored during the 2023 YWCA Racial Justice Challenge are:
- Disability: Tracing the Roots of Eugenics, the Disability Rights Movement, examining the intersections of race, gender, and disability, and analyzing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on differently-abled Individuals.
- Housing Equity: Uncovering the lingering effects of redlining, examining housing accessibility, and identifying how racism, homophobia, and transphobia have become drivers of homelessness and its criminalization.
- Mental Health: Exploring the use of psychology as a tool of marginalization, analyzing access to mental healthcare, and examining the impact of discrimination on mental health.
- Music: Exploring the legacy of activist musicians, unpacking racism in the music industry, examining cultural appropriation, challenging gender stereotypes, and analyzing access to music education.
The content is intended to encourage participants to reflect on their own experiences and biases, and to engage in discussions with others in the community about these important issues.
“There are daily challenges you can complete around each topic if you’d like, ” explains Collins. “You can start where you want and you as the participant have the power to choose what you consume. Most materials are from five to 30 minutes a day, so there is something for everyone.”
As part of this year’s new programming, weekly virtual discussions will be available to participants. In addition, organizations, companies, and groups that take part will receive the YWCA NWO 2023 Challenge Discussion Guide, filled with thought-provoking discussion questions, practical action steps and valuable self-care recommendations.
For 21 days you will receive in your inbox an opportunity to either read an article, listen to a podcast, watch a video, and/or reflect on your own experiences all with the goal of inspiring you to be open to positive changes you can implement today.
This Challenge is so important within today’s landscape because the real work of racial equality starts within. “This journey has to begin with knowledge,” notes Alexii. “We must all understand the current and historic issues that surround systematic injustice. The companies who believe in education and awareness will be stronger and more inclusive businesses, they will be the organizations that benefit the most from this opportunity.”
As different communities learn to become true allies and advocates in social justice, the YWCA recommends colleagues help each other find actionable ways to make positive change.
“We are so pleased that so many of our partners accepted the challenge this year,” shares Collins. “Last year over 1,750 people signed up, and nearly 100 companies and organizations participated.”
Participants are also encouraged to join the YWCA’s Racial Justice Facebook Group for ongoing discussion.
“It’s important for leaders in our communities to understand that almost all organizations in our country are led by white males,” states CEO of JumpStart Inc. Ray Leach in a YWCA Challenge Accepted interview. “If we don’t have a deeper collective understanding of these issues and challenges there’s no way we can help transform our own organizations’ understandings and actions around equity.”
JumpStart Inc., a Cleveland, Ohio-based non-profit venture development organization has gained a national best-in-class reputation for its state-of-the-art economic development models. Their Toledo Business Growth Collaborative leverages their experience and expertise across a network of small business assistance organizations, all here within the Glass City.
“Each of us show up as either part of the solution or part of the problem,” says Collins. “Our silence means we are complicit in the continuation of social injustice. This challenge, on the other hand, collectively creates both change and positive habits.”
The Racial Justice Challenge provides a unique opportunity to engage with issues of social justice, particularly those related to race, equity, and leadership. By participating in this program, individuals and organizations will gain a better understanding of the systemic issues that underpin most injustices, while identifying tangible steps you can take to create a more equitable and just society. As they strive to build a better future for all, the YWCA’s annual event serves as a powerful reminder that change is possible, and that each and every one of us has a role to play in creating a more just and equitable world.
The YWCA thanks and acknowledges Dr. Eddie Moore Jr., Debby Irving, and Dr. Marguerite Penick for their leadership in the interest of racial equity as exhibited in their 21-Day Racial Equity and Habit Building Challenge and the movement they helped to initiate. YWCA’s content is independently designed, written, and curated by YWCA staff as part of racial equity and social justice programs offered to the community
YWCA 21 Day RACIAL JUSTICE CHALLENGE:
APRIL 17, 2023 – MAY 15, 2023. Sign up to participate anytime throughout the Challenge. You will have access to all the previous materials on the website or app. Register at ywcanwo.org.