In honor of Black History Month, we’ve been highlighting people and organizations that have made a difference in South Florida. One nonprofit is providing resources for the community to learn, grow and discuss how racism and bias impact every single life.
“Be a student. Create spaces for you to learn and from every place that you sit, recognize that you have influence,” said CEO of YWCA South Florida, Kerry-Ann Royes.
The nonprofit YWCA South Florida has brought back their 21-day racial equity and social justice challenge. The challenge, which started on February 15th, focuses on developing a basic understanding and empathy on the implications of social inequality and racial injustice.
“For 21 days, we’ve asked you to clear a small space in your life each days. An email comes in your inbox specific to different topics. So this year, our four weeks will encompass a week on race and economics, a week on healthcare, education and the criminal justice system,” said Kerry.
Kerry-Ann says last year they ignited 22,000 conversations during the challenge and they expect to triple the number this year.
"Why do you think it’s difficult for people to talk about racism," asked our Melissa Marrero.
“What I’ve heard from my friends is the term racism is so charged. It is so emotional, it is not just emotional for the experiences that they’ve seen their friends and community go through but it is so charged to align yourself in any way shape or form with the horror, hate, and negativity that surrounds that term, it’s very hard for them to align themselves with,” said Kerry.
“I want to be able to have conversations and talk about the issue of race more frequently,” said Joy Batteen.
This is Joy Battteen’s second year participating in the challenge, getting a deeper understanding of topics involving education and redlining.
“The email that went out yesterday was about redlining and that was not something that I’ve ever heard about, sadly. So redlining in the United States is something that really hit home with me,” said Joy.
Kaufman Rossin, the company Joy works for, has made it a company-wide initiative for employees to join the challenge in hopes of educating their employees and opening the conversation of racism.
“You know in school growing up, we learned the history of racism, but it was a history lesson not a current events lesson. It was like the Civil Rights Movement solved all of our problems with racism in American and that’s so far from the truth,” said Joy.
“Creating those safe spaces for allies to learn and for people to show up and be their flawed selves but for them to also recognize that in they’re going to make mistakes and it’s okay if you do. It’s not a reason to retreat, it’s a reason to move forward. If we can do that together we’re going to build our immunity against this disease of racism,” said Kerry.
The challenge ends on March 15th. If you're interested in signing up, click here.