YWCA Madison

Living Our Racial Justice Values

Editor's Note: In alignment with the theme of the 2017 Racial Justice Summit, the YWCA will be starting a regular series including blogs, articles and videos that help us identify and live our racial justice values. Each piece will include at least one tangible next step you can take to help create a community where everyone belongs. If you are interested in submitting a blog post on how you are living out your racial justice values following the Summit, please submit to jyoung@ywcamadison.org.


Living Our Racial Justice Values


Colleen Butler

This year we hosted our sixteenth Racial Justice Summit. Attendees at the Summit were called to imagine what it would look like if we all identified and lived by our racial justice values. What would it look like if we created a community in which everyone belonged?

Attendance at this event has grown from 250 people our first year, to close to 900 people this year. While the interest and commitment in being a part of a movement to create racial equity has been growing, racial anxiety and the political climate seems to have been getting worse rather than better.

Even as we were hosting the Summit, there were numerous powerful examples of how very far we have to go to create a community in which everyone belongs. The shooting in Las Vegas, taking over 50 lives and injuring hundreds, happened the night before the Summit. Not long before that, hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico and our fellow American citizens have been left stranded in conditions that are a humanitarian crisis. This is amid continuous protest from members of the NFL who are taking a stand against police brutality and standing up for people of color who are being oppressed in the United States.

The stated values upon which this country was founded are liberty, justice, democracy, and equality. However, this country was also built on white supremacy. To fully live into our racial justice values and the stated values of this country, we must also be committed to rooting out white supremacy. Not just where it is obvious, but where it is the subtle undergirding of the policies, practices, and norms we take for granted in our day to day lives.

So what does it mean for us to go back to our jobs, families, and communities after the Racial Justice Summit and live into our racial justice values and uproot white supremacy? How do we stay focused when there is something new on an almost daily basis? Where can we see white supremacy playing out in our daily interactions at work or within other groups that we are a part of, and how can we move from seeing it to changing it within ourselves and within the groups we are a part of?

We must stay committed and stay in community with each other. We must use every position of power or influence we have to stand up for justice and equity. For people who have the spotlight on them, that may mean acts of protest and civil disobedience to create a dialogue around a critical racial justice issue. For people who have financial resources or political power, it may mean mobilizing against injustice and ensuring that the people of Puerto Rico receive equitable amounts of aid to rebuild. These are ways we can truly live out not our own racial justice values, but the stated values of this country.

Where do you have power or influence? What are you going to do to help build a community where everyone belongs? Stay tuned for upcoming blogs from people talking about how they plan to live out their racial justice values following the Summit.

Are you interested in sharing your story? Please submit to jyoung@ywcamadison.org.

Do you want to make a public commitment to living your racial justice values? Click here to read and sign the Social Compact from the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society. This compact recognizes our fundamental belief that we are linked by our common humanity, that we are bound together in our work to secure a fair and inclusive democracy, and that we are united in our commitment to care for each other and the Earth.

Date Created: 11/2/2017

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