YWCA Evanston/North Shore has had a long-standing relationship with the Village of Skokie for its Stand Against Racism campaign, with Village residents and government staff consistently championing the annual event for the past nine years. We spoke with Iris Barrios, Social Worker for the Village of Skokie and their Stand liaison, to talk about the impact of the Stand on residents and how Skokie hopes to build a more equitable community.
How have Skokie residents responded to the Stand Against Racism?
“People are excited and asking for ways on how to participate in our Skokie and Evanston communities!” Barrios states that there is high energy throughout the day and residents of all ages are excited to be a part of it. “We always pair the Stand with conversations so we can have an open dialogue on the impact of racism.” Lincoln Junior High School students also continue this dialogue in their classrooms after the Stand. “It’s so impactful to watch future generations participate and see what racism means to them.”
How has the Stand impacted Skokie’s government?
Barrios says that the Stand has sparked conversations and action among village employees. “We convened an internal equity team in 2020 which includes a wide range of staff from different departments. We also created suggestion boxes for staff to have discussions on equity in our workplace.” The equity team is also increasing opportunities for youth of color to intern and get involved with local government events.
How are residents encouraged to Stand Against Racism year-round?
The Village hosts block parties and other events to encourage residents to get to know each other. “Often people will say ‘I’ve lived across the street from this person for years and we’ve never met.’” These events give residents a low-key opportunity to interact, which leads many residents to find out that their kids go to the same school or share recipes and stories with each other. Barrios says that this kind of community building helps to fight racism and intolerance.
What is Barrios’ hope for Skokie’s future?
“I hope to get to a place where we don’t have to do this kind of event where racism is present in our future. Conversations should continue as a way to educate, and for us to continue to grow and learn as we evolve as a community.” Ensuring Skokie continues to make space for their changing community demographics is a priority for Barrios and the Village government. Residents in Skokie speak around 140 languages, and Barrios works to create a community where residents of all backgrounds are not just accepted but celebrated.
YWCA Evanston/North Shore also hopes to see a day where we no longer need to Stand Against Racism, but until then we are excited to continue our partnership with Skokie and its residents. Until Justice Just Is.
Learn more about the Stand and sign up to take the pledge here.