YWCA, community organizations and Individuals take stand against racism

For immediate release

The persistence and pervasiveness of racism divides our community and keeps individuals from achieving success in education, health, employment, and quality of life. The YWCA’s annual Stand Against Racism initiative brings people together to raise awareness that racism still exists and that it can no longer be ignored or tolerated. In 2013, over 310,000 individuals nationwide took a stand against racism by participating in an event or taking an individual action, helping to raise awareness that racism hurts everyone. In Buncombe County alone, approximately 5,000 people and 99 organizations took a Stand Against Racism.

“Part of the YWCA’s mission is to eliminate racism, and we’re proud to do that every day through our programs,” said Beth Maczka, Executive Director. “In April we focus that year-long energy on The Stand Against Racism. The power of the Stand is that it allows us to unite the community in calling out the racism that is still pervasive in our community, as it is across the country. This kind of collaboration is what helps us mobilize and create change.”

As part of the 2013 Stand Against Racism, UNCA’s Center for Diversity Education, Buncombe County, and the City of Asheville held a day-long conference called Realizing the Benefits of a Diverse & Inclusive Workforce. The conference hosted national experts such as Robert W. Livingston and Tom Tveidt, who spoke on topics ranging from human resources strategies to theory examining unintentional bias, and culturally competent conflict management. Deborah Miles of the Center for Diversity Education, said: “Partnering with the YW and other organizations on the Stand Against Racism is one more way to identify the structures of institutional racism that still exist in our mountain home, and then find ways to tear them down.”

Following the conference, a new collaboration of anchor institutions, including the region’s educational systems, six largest employers, and several community groups formed the Western North Carolina Diversity Engagement Coalition. The Coalition is dedicated to engaging a diverse and inclusive workforce in Western North Carolina. The Coalition has met for the past year to create corporate policies to recruit, retain and promote underrepresented populations. As part of the work of the Coalition, leaders realized that a trained, educated and representative workforce was needed to accomplish their goals.

This year, A-B Tech will hold one of the largest Stand events on April 28 from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on the A-B Tech campus in Asheville. A-B Tech and its partner, the YWCA, and sponsors (City of Asheville, MAHEC, and UNCA) will offer a community progress report, panel discussion, as well as networking and professional development opportunities. The goal of this year’s event is to inspire individuals and organizations to take steps over the next year to help eliminate racism. Some of the professional development opportunities include: developing a resumé, recognizing unconscious bias, navigating social norms, best hiring practices, and much more. The panel discussion will be moderated by Sarah Nuñez and panelists will include Gene Bell, Terry Bellamy, Althea Gonzalez, Beth Maczka, and James Lee.

“We hope to reach the broadest possible audience to make this year’s Stand Against Racism event at A-B Tech high-impact,” said Page C. McCormick, A-B Tech’s Training Design & Support Specialist for Organizational & Professional Development. “Taking a stand isn’t just about having an event, but rather working year-to-year to build an even stronger community in Asheville. Last year’s event at UNCA motivated community leaders and members alike to begin working to create a more inclusive community. This year we hope to take things a step further. We want to bring people of all races, classes, and states of employment together — as well as decision-makers who can offer employment opportunities.”

More than 50 Stand Against Racism events are currently scheduled to take place through-out Buncombe County – they may be viewed at www.ywcastand.org.

Today, the YWCA of Asheville invites local organizations, corporations, churches, houses of worship, government agencies and individuals in Buncombe County to take a stand by participating as a site or individual in the 2014 Stand Against Racism. Any group of any size that believes in a society free of racism is invited to join us.

As a participating site, the host will hold their own private or public Stand Against Racism event at a location of their choosing. Participation in the Stand Against Racism is free, and becoming a participating site is very simple; the YWCA will provide all the necessary materials and documents. Each organization’s “Stand” will differ – from gatherings and discussions at work to larger scale stands like rallies and marches.

Strength comes from numbers. To become a participating site: learn more and register at www.ywcastand.org.

For questions about participating in the Stand Against Racism contact Angel Redmond at angel.redmond@ywcaofasheville.org or at 828-254-7206 x. 219.

The YWCA of Asheville is dedicated to eliminating racism and empowering women. We offer programs that bridge gaps in education, health care, child care and earning power. These programs include a Child Care Center, School-Age Program (After-School and Summer Camp), MotherLove (mentoring for teen moms), Drop-In Childcare (support for women improving their economic future), Preventive Health/Diabetes Wellness, Aquatics and the YWCA Club W Fitness Center. The YWCA has been in Asheville since 1907 and currently serves more than 2,500 families a year. Learn more at www.ywcaofasheville.org.


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