Standing Against Racism with Camara Banfield

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by Sharon Svec

In April, YWCA Clark County joined more than 500 groups across the country to demonstrate solidarity towards a mission to eliminate racism. Hosted by The Women’s Leadership Center of YWCA and the Diversity Council of WSU, this year’s event focused on a very important theme: Women of Color Leading Change. Despite outpacing other groups in college education, leading social progress in their communities, and often being the primary breadwinner in their households, women of color are consistently underrepresented in positions of leadership. But there are tangible steps we can take together.

Camara Banfield, Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecuting Attorney at the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is a Woman of Color Leading Change right here in Clark County. She spoke to an impassioned audience about addressing racism. Attendees were also invited to sign a pledge against racism, which is now available on our website.

At the event, Camara eloquently addressed the issues that lead to the oppression of black women by sharing personal experiences in which racism was sometimes implicit and other times more explicit. She marked implicit bias as one of the greatest barriers women of color face, and shared meaningful encounters with friends, co-workers, teachers and family to demonstrate the complex feelings a person can feel when bias is at play. She cited moments as early as elementary school, continuing into middle school and beyond, when her mother arrived by her side to challenge implicit bias from teachers, counselors and others. But, even with the best advocate, it can be hard for a person to realize their worth, especially when every other encounter dictates otherwise.

Camara did come to recognize a stronger sense of self. And through the adoption of her mother’s communication style and fortitude, she’s now advocating for others. She sited the qualities of grace and respect as tantamount to opening up conversations about racism, and ultimately, to ending it. She then encouraged the audience to also have those difficult conversations, and to do so with grace and respect.

You can read the pledge against racism on our website. The pledge correlates with YWCA USA’s national stand against racism and is no longer available for signing through their site. However, you can send us an email at info@ywcaclarkcounty.org, and we’ll add your name to our listing. View photos from this year’s event at flickr.com/ywcacc.