To help the many individuals and organizations looking for ways to further their understanding of racism and equity and drive positive change, YWCA St. Paul launched the ‘21-Day Racial Equity and Social Justice Challenge’ in June 2020. This unique and thought-provoking email series provided participants with daily curated articles, podcasts, videos, and activities covering four topics – voting, education, criminal justice reform, and health. It also included suggestions on actions individuals can take to advance racial and social equity. A second 21-Day Challenge took place this year covering reparations, housing, environmental racism, and gender-based violence. More than 3,500 individuals participated in the two campaigns. YWCA St. Paul facilitated group discussions for several organizations that participated in the Challenge.
In summer 2020, YWCA St. Paul held a virtual town hall on “Tackling Racism,” featuring distinguished community leaders Judge Pamela Alexander, James Burroughs, Justin Terrell, and Dr. Yohuru Williams which has reached nearly 600 community members. The panel provided context for understanding what racism is, how it has infiltrated laws and policy, how it impacts the day-to-day life of African American people, and what each of us can do to confront it.
Additionally, to promote better understanding of the impact of racism, YWCA St. Paul launched a monthly series of Equity and Justice Community Conversations in 2020. Reaching 700 attendees, the compelling virtual discussions set the groundwork for open dialog and sharing, learning, activism, and reform in a unique community forum. Topics have included homelessness and housing, voting and voter suppression, education, domestic violence, health and well-being, economic inclusion, and the status of women in Minnesota.
YWCA St. Paul also works with organizations to build their understanding of the history and dynamics of race and racism, and to strengthen equity within their organizations. After years of internal work, they began assisting other organizations in creating safe space for learning, challenging dialogue, and building equity.
YWCA St. Paul’s racial justice initiatives promote increased understanding and equip community members to fight racism and advocate for social justice. Because of their efforts, thousands of Minnesotans have been challenged by thought-provoking content exploring the history, legacy, and ongoing impact of racism. Participants have also been equipped to change their behavior and attitudes and take action to help build greater racial equity in our communities.