We stand in solidarity with YWCAs in the USA, the UK and across the world that have taken clear positions during this time of social upheaval. Racism is not something restricted to one country and the actions of this weekend in London have highlighted how confident many white racists feel that their views are supported by the majority. They are not.
We fully support the peaceful protests occurring in both the USA, UK and around the world that are campaigning to allocate government resources away from police forces towards social, cultural and economic services that invest in communities of colour. To say this investment is overdue is to make a gross understatement about the structural racism that keeps communities of colour starved of resources. We also want to add our voice to those calling for justice for the black trans women, women and men who have been murdered by the forces that should be serving them and keeping them safe. In addition, we want to add to calls for justice for Belly Mujinga who was spat on during her frontline work at Victoria station (London) during the height of the COVID19 crisis, and subsequently contracted the disease and lost her life.
As the YWCA of Great Britain, we recognise the colonial history of the United Kingdom and the legacy of institutional racism left behind. Many communities, particularly communities of colour are frustrated and disillusioned with British institutions that continue to perpetuate structural racism. On-going hostile immigration policies have produced institutional racism such as the Windrush scandal, which illegally deported British citizens of Caribbean heritage from the UK, without concern for their lives or well-being. Institutional racism affects women of colour across all aspects of society and their lives. Women of colour are arrested and imprisoned at around twice the rate of white women, black women are five times more likely and Asian women twice as likely to die in childbirth compared to white women, and white women are around three times more likely to be professors than black women in British university institutions.
The YWCA is in many ways a product of empire and colonialism. Our global movement was spread by the travels of missionaries and colonial administrators. It is our responsibility as a YWCA, steeped in this history, to take responsibility for doing the work to replace racist legacies, structures and attitudes with ones focused on antiracist and intersectional justice. We are actively aware of the role that structural racism plays in limiting the opportunities available to young women in the UK today. In thinking about programme design and developing our most current programming, we have thought carefully about partnering with and investing in organisations that are being led by women of colour, and that empower young women of colour. We will continue to look for ways to improve our engagement and understanding through our programmes, as well as reflect on the work we need to do within our organisation to further the leadership of women of colour, and advance antiracism.
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