Stand Against Racism

Stand Against Racism 2017

On Tuesday, April 11, 2017, the YWCA Aurora hosted its annual Stand Against Racism event at the beautiful Perry Theatre on the Aurora University campus. We had over 90 people in attendance! We provided a moderated panel discussion with leaders from local organizations impacted by recent race issues.

YWCA’s mission is to eliminate racism, empower women and promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. In Aurora, we provide after school programs, bullying prevention training for children and their parents, STEM educational programming, and discussion groups called Community Dialogues on relevant and timely topics.

We provided the enclosed biographies of our panelists so the audience could get to know them and their organizations. With the assistance of the Aurora University students, we crafted questions for the panelists to answer. I co-moderated the panel with Ginny Meglio, the AU Social Work Association President.

Having honest conversations about race and racism can be difficult. We need to create and maintain a safe space for these conversations to take place, and, also, a brave space so that our panelists can be courageous enough to share their thoughts, feelings and experiences – so we can have a real conversation. I asked the audience to respect this safe and brave space, in the spirit of peace, education and advocacy.

Our panelists included the following community leaders:

  • Ms. Susan Sosa Bachmeier is the Immigrant Legal Services Senior Specialist for World Relief DuPage/Aurora;

  • Dr. Adrienne Coleman is the Multicultural Education Specialist at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy;

  • Dr. Adrienne Holloway is an assistant professor at DePaul University and the President of the Aurora Hispanic Heritage Advisory Board;

  • Mr. Shoaib Khadri is the President of the Islamic Center in Naperville; and,

  • Chief Kristen Ziman is the Chief of Police for the Aurora Police Department.

I want to again thank the panelists for sharing their perspectives and experiences. They provided us with deeply impactful racial situations that are affecting Aurora citizens every day. Knowing this information is not enough; we need to consistently do something about it to make a positive change.

So, what can individual citizens do to move our mission of eliminating racism forward and Take a Stand Against Racism?
Below I have listed 10 Simple Ideas to Eliminate Racism created by the YWCA USA. Use this information to make a change in how you impact your world.
Continue to attend social movement and open-minded discussions, like our Stand Against Racism event.
Join us for a Community Dialogue group: we are forming one for students and one for the public. The purpose of Community Dialogues is to engage community members in a series of small group discussions to address critical issues in a peaceful and collaborative manner.

I encourage you to search and find the answers to be the change you want to see. Take a stand against racism with me and YWCA, for yourself, for your family and for your friends.


10 simple ideas to eliminate racism

Don't laugh at racist, sexist, ageist, homophobic and other stereotypical jokes or assumptions.

By laughing, you're acknowledging the joke is appropriate and encouraging more inappropriate comments. You can interrupt without being rude. Don't let your silence speak for you. Simply say, "I don't find that funny," or "I don't appreciate jokes like that."

Make an effort to get to know people different than you.

Look for things in common with other people and celebrate the differences. We can learn from and appreciate something about everyone. Learn about other people and their culture. By learning about other people, your life will be greatly enriched and your appreciation for your own culture will deepen.

Think before you speak.

Words can hurt, whether you mean them to or not. When describing a person, think if mentioning their race is important to the story. Do you refer to everyone from South or Central America as Mexican? If you don't know someone's country of origin, don't assume. Some people prefer Black, while others like African American. Some prefer Latino/a, others like Hispanic. If you're unsure which to use, ask. It's important to use the correct language.

Be a role model.

Be vocal in opposing discriminatory views and practices, especially with friends and family who respect your opinion. Don't criticize, but help educate others about issues and about your own experiences.

Don't make assumptions.

Do you assume that African Americans like rap music or that Asians are good at math? Stereotypes hurt everyone. Examine what your prejudices are and make adjustments to look at everyone as an individual.

Work on projects with members of groups different from your own.

Working as an equal alongside others from different groups on a common project is one of the best ways to undo prejudice and increase familiarity with others.

Explore the unfamiliar.

Attend an organization meeting, religious service or travel to a new region where you are in the minority. For example, if you are Christian attend a Jewish service at a synagogue. If you attend an all white suburban school visit an inner-city multi-cultural school. This first-hand experience can be enlightening and give you perspective.

Be a proactive parent.

Expose your children to diversity at a young age. Read stories that explain the point of view of other groups. Discuss TV shows, movies or books that present stereotypes. Children can benefit from knowing other children from different groups at very early ages, before prejudices and biases are formed.

Support anti-prejudice and anti-racist organizations.

Whether your efforts are in volunteering, financial donation or being an advocate, working with other groups toward the same goal can be beneficial to you and the community. You'll meet great people and find real support for your efforts. By getting involved, your voice can make a big difference at the local level.