YOUR ACTIONS MAKE A DIFFERENCE!
As the Black Lives Matter movement to end systemic racism gains momentum nationwide, residents of Clark County have turned to local organizations, including NAACP, Southwest Washington League of United Latin American Citizens Council 4701, Clark County Volunteer Lawyers Program, and YWCA Clark County for guidance in dismantling systemic racism.
YWCA participated in the Clark County Council Listening Session on Systemic Racism in August. We explained how systemic racism shows up, where it can be found in our community, and the history that brought us to today. Together with our organizational partners, we demonstrated how much work we need to do to educate our community and to begin to dismantle systemic racism here in Clark County.
We urge organizations and individuals to take action to address systemic racism in Clark County and the rest of this nation:
ACTION FOR ORGANIZATIONS AND INDIVIDUALS
Support the call to declare racism a public health emergency. If Clark County and cities that reside within Clark County declare racism a public health emergency, funds would be made available to address the serious negative affects that racism causes to the health of those who are victims of systemic racism.
“Addressing racism as a public crisis will help every single person in Clark County because it is about fighting oppression and hatred,” states our partner LULAC. “By declaring racism as a public health crisis, we can begin to eliminate racism, which is at the root of so many horrific policies.” To read more about racism as a public health emergency, click here.
5 ACTIONS FOR ORGANIZATIONS
- Do a racial equity assessment and create a racial equity plan. Doing an in-depth racial equity assessment with employees from all levels within your organization will help you identify your strengths and weaknesses. Create a racial equity plan that includes actionable objectives, timelines, and staff or teams responsible for completing them. Have regular meetings to check on your progress. You can access a free tool for organizational self assessment related to racial equity here.
- Include anti-racism material in new staff orientation. Make sure human resources discusses the organizational racial equity plan with new employees. The first day on the job is the ideal time to underscore the importance of equity and anti-racism to the organization. (This should also be discussed with job candidates during the hiring process.)*
- Implement onsite training in racial equity. Ongoing racial justice trainings for staff, Board, and volunteers will demonstrate that racial equity is a priority for your organization. Hire an outside expert to facilitate the sessions, at least initially, so people have confidence in the content. Training should be held at least semi-annually, and should be conducted on company time. Attendance should be mandatory.*
- Require staff to have goals related to racial equity: Mandate that all staff identify a goal related to racial equity. Examples include: creating a list of BIPOC vendors; diversifying your marketing graphics to include people representative of all races and ethnicities; and doing strategic outreach to communities of color to have your client base more accurately reflect Clark County’s population. Require progress toward racial equity goals to qualify for merit-based increases.
- Create affinity groups for Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC). While the group is optional to attend, it is recommended to require supervisors to allow BIPOC staff to attend on paid time. It is a great way for people to come together and create a safe space to share their experiences. For more information on what an affinity group is and how to start one in your workplace click here.
*Adapted From The Oregon Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence
5 ACTIONS FOR INDIVIDUALS
- Hold elected officials accountable. Our Clark County elected officials’ statements and actions revealed that some of our community leaders do not understand what systemic racism is or how it exists throughout our local institutions. Attend public meetings and ask elected officials about their record on racial justice issues. Write letters to the editor questioning actions by elected officials that demonstrate either ignorance, or support, of racism. And register and vote!
- Call for a shift in public funds. Be part of the movement to demand the redistribution of law enforcement funding to social programs, such as mental health, housing, and addiction services that directly serve BIPOC communities
- Call for the schools to step up racial justice practices. Urge our Clark County school districts to explore more ways to embed restorative racial justice options within their schools in order to address disproportionate discipline of students of color and the school-to-prison pipeline.
- Donate your time. Demonstrate your support for racial equity by volunteering with organizations that work for racial justice. YWCA Clark County has many opportunities to support racial equity— from being a Court Appointed Special Advocate to working with youth in our Independent Living Skills program to helping us meet the needs of survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.
- Donate your dollars. Nonprofit organizations that embrace racial equity need the financial support from individuals to fulfill their missions. Long term change requires sustaining support. A monthly gift demonstrates that your support is not a one-time spontaneous gesture.
Bonus action, especially for youth! See it, say it. Become the racial justice conscience of your social group, class at school, or your family. When you witness racism or hear racist comments, interrupt these microaggressions and oppressive/racist comments. It will take courage to be that person. It takes skill and practice to do this effectively so that the message is heard by the perpetrator(s). But you will see the results of your actions in the many “teachable moments” you will facilitate.