If you missed out on the Stand Against Racism event on April 27th, no worries, I’m giving some summary thoughts here today. Stand Against Racism is an annual signature program of the YWCA movement. Over 750 events took place the last week in April. It is a loud voice, a call to action, for the ending of racism. This year the theme was Women of Color Leading Change.
Here in New Mexico, we assembled an amazing panel of women of color, leaders and experts in their fields to discuss the barriers they have had to overcome, the success they have achieved and discuss the solutions for breaking down these barriers. Ebony Booth, YWCA Board Member, pointed out that it is very uncommon to have, in any event, seven women of color sitting at the front as the expert panel. All of us in the room let out a collective gasp. She had just shed light onto that thing that is constantly happening, but we are slow to acknowledge. Women of color, rarely get to be the leaders and the experts more than one at a time. We push and push for change, and often that push ends up in uplifting only a few of us; a belief that a few is enough progress.
As our movement grows and grows, we start to have these moments where we discuss who else should be invited. Should we make sure that men are part of the movement? How can we partner with men? We forget that we haven’t completed the work of including all women. Melody Wells, a panelist who is the Development Manager at New Day Youth and Family Services, stated the problem very clearly. She said, women of color have been here and leading for a long time, you need to learn how to follow (I’m paraphrasing).
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Our evening was kicked off with the poetry of two young New Mexican women, D’Nessa McDaniel and Sarita Sol Gonzalez. I listened as their poetic words mirrored the same things I went through when I was their age and my current life. The panelists followed with stories of the same. Women across generations facing the same barriers. But, the strength of each of these women was present. Present like a cloud of motivation settling on us. Stories of overcoming through persistence, through community collaboration, through self-education or educating others. The voices were loud and proud and I’m so proud of the Women of Color leaders in our community. I hope for my times when the mic is passed to these incredible women and we have another opportunity to gain from their wisdom and experience.
Our poets: D’Nessa Mc Daniel and Sarita Sol Gonzalez
Our Panelists: Bahati Ansar, Samia Assed, Dr. Jaelyn de Maria, Ramona King, Natalie Nicotine, Dr. Irene Vasquez and Melody Wells.
Special Thanks to Ebony Isis Booth and Aimee Chavez for organizing Stand Against Racism 2017.