Yavilah McCoy of Jewish People of Color to speak at UNC Asheville

Press release from UNC Asheville:

Yavilah McCoy, who founded Ayecha, an organization dedicated to Jewish people of color, and who continues work on equity and inclusion as CEO of Dimensions Educational Consulting, will present a talk, Faith, Power, and Privilege, at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 25, in UNC Asheville’s Highsmith Student Union, Blue Ridge Room. This event, sponsored by the University’s Center for Jewish Studies, and Department of Religious Studies, along with Carolina Jews for Justice, is free and open to everyone.

A teacher, writer, editor and diversity consultant, McCoy was born and raised in an orthodox Jewish home in Brooklyn, N.Y. Her grandparents converted to Judaism, and she continues the traditions handed to her over three generations as part of her African American Jewish family. In her talk, McCoy will discuss the practice of holding multiple identities within efforts to build greater equity and justice in the changing political and social climate of 2020. She will address the challenges of diversity and inclusion in religious communities, as well as opportunities that these communities can engage  toward becoming deeper allies and stronger advocates in working together toward social justice.

McCoy is a certified trainer for the Anti-Defamation League’s World of Difference Institute, the National Conference for Community and Justice, and the National Coalition Building Institute, and a certified coach for the Auburn Theological Seminary Pastoral Training Program. She also co-authored and performed The Colors of Water, a 2009 theater piece sharing the history of the generations of her family.

McCoy was a leader of the Jewish delegation to the 2017 Women’s March, and two years later, was placed in the spotlight as one of three Jewish leaders added to the Women’s March steering committee after accusations of anti-Semitism had been lodged against march organizers.

“People will need to recover their deepest sense of their humanity in relationships,” she told Jewish Boston about her work in the Women’s March leadership. “All of my work is based in relationship-building. And the first thing I ask people to do is to agree to be proximate to one another.”

She also told Jewish Boston that she takes a similar approach in addressing racism and sexism she has encountered in the Jewish community. “In contrast to demanding that our leaders be denounced for the racism and sexism they have exhibited, I and many other Jewish activists that I respect have figured out strategies to engage in ‘teachable moments’ where leaders can listen, learn and change their behavior in accountability to the people and communities they have been empowered to serve,” said McCoy.

For more information about this event, please contact Assistant Professor Doria Killian, co-director of UNC Asheville’s Center for Jewish Studies, at dkillian@unca.edu or 828.251.6274.

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