YWCA Evanston-North Shore is devastated by the recent racially motivated hate crime that took place in Evanston at Haven Middle School on Friday, and the fatal act of white supremacist terrorism in Buffalo that resulted in the tragic loss of 10 lives, a total of 13 victims – 11 of whom were Black.
The threat and deadly impact of racism-fueled violence is very real and present around the country – including in our own backyard. These events clearly demonstrate the necessity of working together as a community not just on the day of local large-scale, anti-racism events like YWCA’s annual Stand Against Racism and Ricky Byrdsong Memorial Race Against Hate – but every day throughout the year.
As leaders in the movement to end racism, YWCA lends an important voice when our communities are scarred by racism. On Monday, staff from YW’s Equity Institute team were on-site at Haven Middle School in response to the discovery of three nooses hanging from trees in the area between Kingsley and Haven Middle School accompanied by “notes in support of Haven educators.” Equity consultants from the YWCA were a part of a team of outreach workers who met with students throughout the day to begin the healing process and engage in difficult but essential conversations around racism.
The synchronicity between Buffalo and Ricky Byrdsong, who was murdered by a white supremacist in 1999 while walking in his Skokie neighborhood with two of his young children, is sufficient evidence of the need to take immediate collective action. It is imperative that we leverage our spheres of influence to create change. We must raise our voices and demand justice as we navigate the collective anguish and pain felt by the communities we serve in the aftermath of these hate crimes. Tackling racism and its fatal consequences requires actions every day, at every level – from individuals to within our social circles including families, friends, neighbors, businesses, block clubs, churches, and PTA groups.
YWCA Evanston/North Shore will continue to deepen our impact as a trauma-informed resource that provides equity and anti-violence training and prevention. Resources like the YWCA’s Stand Against Racism pledge and Racial Reckoning: A Healing Toolkit are entry points to help us think deeply and intentionally about how we care for one another and center healing practices during this time of racial reckoning. We hope these will be valuable resources as we continue to navigate the aftermath of these horrific incidents and work to eliminate racism in all its forms.