YWCA 10th Annual Stand Against Racism

The YWCA’s Stand Against Racism, in partnership with YWCA Associations throughout the country, aims to build community among those who work for racial justice and to raise awareness around the negative impact of institutional and structural racism. The goal of Stand Against Racism is to unite our community in a bold demonstration that delivers a clear message: We are on a mission to eliminate racism.

“Every year, the YWCA of Asheville and our local Stand Against Racism partners coalesce around this awareness campaign, and we continue to be one of the most active Stand sites in the country,” said Gerry Leonard, YWCA of Asheville Racial Justice Coordinator. “In an ever-changing social and political landscape, we have seen our community stand up and speak out against systemic racism that disproportionately impacts people of color.”

The YWCA of Asheville has once again invited area organizations, businesses, faith communities, government agencies, and individuals in Asheville and Buncombe County to take a Stand Against Racism. Any group of any size that believes in a society free of racism is invited to become a Stand site. Stand events include days of support and discussion gatherings at work places to larger scale events like film screenings, rallies, panel discussions and marches.

The 2017 Stand Against Racism is scheduled for Thursday, April 27 through Sunday, April 30, but Stand events will be taking place all throughout the month of April. This year’s Stand marks our 10th annual campaign, and we are focused on a very important theme: Women of Color Leading Change. Now, perhaps more than ever, our country, our government, our business sector and our movement need the visible leadership of women of color.

Despite outpacing other groups in college education, leading social progress since the very beginning and often being the primary breadwinner in their households, women of color are consistently underrepresented in positions of leadership. Only four percent of elected officials across the country are women of color—this includes federal, state, and local positions. The corporate sector is no better, only 14 percent of executive officers in Fortune 500 companies are women. And, just 18 of those companies have female CEOs; 0.40 percent of CEOs are either Asian or Black and there are no Latina CEOs. Even in nonprofit organizations, where women make up the majority of employees, only 45 percent of CEOs and executive directors are women.

Fortunately, there are tangible steps we can take to change these numbers. Good public policy can make a huge difference. Fair workplace policies such as paid sick days can make a world of difference for someone trying to plan for their future. In the workplace, mentorship and sponsorship make a huge difference in how people progress up the career ladder—and leaders tend to mentor those who look like them. Workplaces can invest in formal mentoring across age, race, gender, and other differences to help level the playing field. This is especially important in predominantly white male dominated spaces.

“There is no silver bullet solution to dismantling racism,” says Gerry. “This year’s theme further emphasizes the insidious nature and intersectionality of racism, and how it shows up within education, employment, housing, criminal justice and health disparities.”

2017 Stand Public Events

Thursday, April 13
A-B Tech Community College
2-3:30 p.m. A panel discussion titled “Stand Up, Speak Out for Respect & Dignity” explores ways to embrace and support each other. The panel will include members of our diverse faith community, our LGBT community, and our minority communities.

Tuesday, April 18
Francine Delany New School
6-9 p.m. Film screening of “13th,” a documentary on the intersection of race, justice, and mass incarceration in the U.S. Followed by a facilitated talk-back.

Wednesday, April 19
YWCA Multipurpose Room
6-8:30 p.m. Democracy NC seeks to explore the link between current barriers to meaningful civic engagement by examining the intersections of race, age, gender, class, and power.

Thursday, April 20
Building Bridges of Asheville
6-8 p.m. Join us for a panel discussion on how the paradigm of racism has shifted from the inception of Building Bridges in 1993 to where we are now in 2017.

Saturday, April 22
The Center for Craft, Creativity & Design
10 a.m.-1 p.m. Think through issues of racial and cultural identity in this all levels bookbinding workshop. Participants will use six-word memoirs, critical questioning, and collaborative techniques to explore different ways to share a story. Quick bookbinding structures and paper folding techniques will be taught in order to find the best form to help get a message across.

Tuesday, April 25
WNC Diversity Engagement Coalition
12 noon-1 p.m. Join us for a free lunch-and-learn at the MAHEC Education Center in Pisgah. Marisol Jimenez, an accomplished equity and inclusion organizer, facilitator, and advocate, with Tepeyac Consulting, will lead this workshop that serves as an opportunity for you to develop some language and frameworks for advancing equity within your organizations and communities.

Tuesday, April 25
Buncombe County Health and Human Services & Family Justice Center
6-8 p.m. Join us for The Ripple Effect with Mia Birdsong, a community conversation on how your actions create positive change. Mia Birdsong is an acclaimed community advocate who speaks about the value of community and self-determination. She is best known for her TED Talk, “The story we tell about poverty isn’t true.”

Thursday, April 27
YWCA of Asheville
6-8 p.m. YWCA of Asheville hosts Women of Color Leading Change, a panel discussion highlighting local women of color who are leading grassroots efforts towards equity and inclusion. The focus of the event will be on challenges faced and success stories from WOC leaders along with words of wisdom for others looking to make change in their communities.

Saturday, April 29
THE Block off Biltmore
4 -7 p.m. “Breath Circles for Racial Diversity Healing — Transformation Beyond Woundedness” with Ayo Handy-Kendi, the Breath Sekou. This workshop is free and will include nine healing racism and intra-racial techniques, breathwork, and transformative practices that deeply explores, opens and heals the wounds of racism to support movement towards reconciliation.

Sunday, April 30
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Association
3-4 p.m. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Asheville and Buncombe County, in partnership with the Residents Council of Asheville Housing Authority, will celebrate the lives of the following individuals: Mrs. Vivian Cline Cooper, Mrs. Willie F. Hennessee, Mrs. Beatrice Francine Delany, and Mrs. Minnie Jones. The organizations will also recognize the following change agents: Johnnie Grant, Terry Bellamy, Brenda Mills, Clara Jeter, Willie Mae Brown, and Thelma Porter.


Find event details and the full list of local Stand events at

To learn more and to take the Stand pledge, visit StandAgainstRacism.org.

For questions about participating in Stand Against Racism, contact Gerry Leonard at gleonard@ywcaofasheville.org.


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