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Stand Against Racism

21 Day Racial Equity and Social Justice Challenge

This 21-Day Stand Against Racism Challenge will help you create dedicated time and space to build more effective social justice habits, particularly those dealing with issues of race, power, privilege, and leadership.

Fill out the form below to join.

This 21 Day Racial Equity and Social Justice Challenge will help you create dedicated time and space to build more effective social justice habits, particularly those dealing with issues of race, power, privilege, and leadership.

Fill out the form below to join.

Join The 2022 Challenge

Fill out the form below to receive racial equity and social justice emails daily from YWCA St. Paul for 21 days. Each email will take a deep dive into a different topic and include resources for continued learning and action items so you can join the racial equity and social justice movement.

You can still take 2020’s challenge; click here to sign up (link will open in new tab). The 2022 challenge will start in June.


For 21 days, you will be presented with challenges such as reading an article, listening to a podcast, reflecting on personal experience and more. Participation in an activity like this helps us to discover how racial injustice and social injustice impact our community, to connect with one another, and to identify ways to dismantle racism and other forms of discrimination. This is an exciting opportunity to dive deep into racial equity and social justice. We hope you will join us on this journey and we can’t wait to get started!


For Organizations and Groups

Many companies, organizations and social groups are looking for ways to drive positive change and break the cycle of systemic racism. To assist, YWCA St. Paul is issuing a ‘21-Day Racial Equity and Social Justice Challenge’ – an email series designed to support efforts to learn more about racial equity and social justice.

Everyone participating in a group should sign up for the challenge on the same day – the day you would like the challenge to begin. Please include your company or organization’s name when registering.

If you would like YWCA St. Paul to help facilitate discussions around the topics and information in the Challenge, please email Melissa Harper-France at

Ready to join the challenge?

2020 Challenge Archive

Week 1 - Voting

Being ‘anti-racist’ doesn’t require that you always know the right thing to say or do in any given situation, it simply asks that you take action and work against racism wherever you find it including, and perhaps most especially, in yourself.


As you start Day One of our 21-Day Racial Equity and Social Justice Challenge, we hope you will find the content in series is a good investment of your time. Each day you’ll have the chance to learn from a wide range of sources, challenging you to think and act differently.

For Day One of the Challenge, we invite you to ground yourself in the history of African American Inequality in the United States with the attached white paper from the Harvard Business School, May 2019. This overview takes readers on a journey that begins in the 1500s, and brings you forward to modern day America where racial inequalities continue to contribute to disparities in education, income, and wealth potential for African Americans and communities of color.


As we start this journey with you, we want to thank our colleagues at YWCA Cleveland for sharing this exercise with us and for inspiring us to run this 21 day challenge right here in the Twin Cities. Thanks for taking the challenge!


Click here to read the rest of the email.

The fight for women’s suffrage was not as straightforward as you might think. Today we will examine the intersections of race and gender and how this played out during the fight for the 19th Amendment. Black women were marginalized in the movement and their contributions sidelined by history. Today, we will look back at these pioneering leaders and how they laid the groundwork for universal suffrage and the civil rights movement.


Click here to read the full email.

Today, we are looking at the history of voter suppression and how people of color were systemically kept from the ballot box, as well as the challenges they had to overcome in order to exercise their right to vote. Today’s activities will provide much-needed context for tomorrow’s challenge, which will show how voter suppression has changed over time and how it is disenfranchising marginalized communities today.


Click here to read the full email.

Yesterday you learned about voter suppression and its impact on American history and people of color. Today, we are going to learn how voter suppression continues to impact our democracy and disenfranchise marginalized groups. With 2020 being a significant election year, it is important that we recognize the barriers to voting that many people still face and work to eliminate those barriers, so that our representatives and laws reflect our increasingly diverse country.

Click here to read the full email.

Every 10 years the federal government undertakes the important task of counting every person living in the United States. Today, you are going to learn about the Census’ history, why people of color are routinely undercounted, and how this unsung program impacts the lives of every American without most of us even realizing it.

Click here to read the full email.

Week 2 - Education

Welcome to week two of the 21 Day Racial Equity & Social Justice Challenge 2020. This week we will discuss the history and impact of inequity within our education systems. Over 65 years ago, the Supreme Court’s ruling in the landmark case of Brown vs. Board of Education case declared racial segregation unconstitutional, yet today we see our schools just as segregated, if not more than in 1954. The result of this continued segregation has perpetuated a lasting negative effect on children and communities of color. Today we will explore that history and it’s on-going impact on our education systems.

Click here to read the rest of the email.

If you’ve ever changed schools in the middle of the year, you may be able to recall minor differences in curriculum between districts. However, imagine moving from a predominately white high school in Texas, to a more diverse school in California, you may not think much about the vast ways in which the exact same material can vary depending on a pupil’s school, school district and instructional materials. Today we will examine how textbooks, authors and state legislation, collectively “what we teach,” impacts society’s world view and understanding of history. 

Click here to read the full email.

As individuals interested in learning more about racial equity, you’ve likely heard of the term “school-to-prison pipeline,” (if you haven’t check out this infographic made by the ACLU). Most notably this term is tied to the systems that funnel African American boys out of school and into prison at alarming rates. Today we will learn more about how school disciplinary policies disproportionately affect Black students including Black girls. Stereotypes and misperceptions, which view Black girls as older, more mature and more aggressive have led to a lesser-discussed trend, the adultification of Black girls.

Click here to read the full email.

Yesterday we challenged ourselves to look deeper into the ways in which school disciplinary policies disproportionately affect children of color and Black girls. Today, let’s take a look at the early impact teachers have on student’s educational outcomes and their likelihood to attend college. Unconscious biases in white teachers, who favor a “colorblind” approach may cause unintentional harm to their students, while the early acknowledgment of differences can prepare students for a diverse world. Positive outcomes sparked by same-race role models can potentially shrink the education achievement gap and usher more Black & brown students into colleges and universities. 

Click here to read the full email.

To wrap up week 2 and our discussion around issues of racism and inequity within our educational systems, let’s challenge ourselves to consider some of the barriers that minorities face seeking higher education:

  • The widely used college admission test, the SAT, was originally designed by a proponent of the intellectual inferiority of people of color, and is still under attack for bias against poor, black and Hispanic students;
  • the adversity poor brown and black students experience while on campus; and
  • the higher levels of student loan debt shouldered by students of color; and the challenges they face in repaying their loans.
These are all a part of a flawed higher education system.

Week 3 - Criminal Justice Reform

Welcome to week 3 of The Challenge – congrats, you’ve reached the half-way mark! Studies show that racial and ethnic minorities are disproportionately represented in prison and jail populations, relative to their numbers in the general population. Similar disparities are found at earlier stages of the criminal justice process, beginning with investigatory stops and arrests by the police. Today we will learn about the damaging and often fatal effects of bias and over-policing.


Click here to read the rest of the email.


Please be advised: the third article for further reading in this email was updated by Equal Justice Initiative after this email’s original send date. The updated article discusses the criminalization of Black and Brown people, but does not discuss police reform as originally written. 


Check out The Policing Campaign to learn about how communities and police departments can work together to achieve police reform.

Today we will discuss the impact of racial disparities in incarceration on minority communities in the United States. Building on last week’s discussion on education and the school to prison pipeline, mass incarceration of targeted demographics, especially Black men, has an effect not only on the incarcerated individuals but on entire racial and religious groups, their communities and future generations.

Click here to read the full email.

Minnesota has an incarceration rate of 364 to 100,000 people – that means our state locks up a higher percentage of its people than many wealthy democracies do. Today we offer a glimpse into the challenges women in Minnesota face when released from prison prison and explore why  Minnesota’s parole system fails to earn a passing grade .  We also look at the challenges the State faces to institute police reform.  

Click here to read the full email.

Over the past 30 years, the trend of confining more women to federal, state and local correction facilities as exploded with an increase of 700%. Today we will discuss how anecdotal and antiquated healthcare policies, harsher disciplinary consequences, and unmet needs while incarcerated and post-release, perpetuate a cycle of generational imprisonment, poverty and trauma for women and families. 

Click here to read the full email.

Life after prison can often be just as difficult as time spent behind bars. Most former convicts struggle with culture shock, mental health issues, disenfranchisement, unemployment and a whole host of other problems upon release. Today we will learn more about some of those issues and the struggle the formerly incarcerated face when trying to re-engage in society. 

Week 4 - Public Health

“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and inhuman.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Welcome to the last week of the 21 Day Racial Equity and Social Justice challenge. People of color suffer worse health outcomes than white people, even when controlling for income and other factors. Learn why these disparities aren’t about race, but racism. Today we are talking about the impact of toxic stress caused by daily exposure to discrimination on the health of people of color.

Click here to read the rest of the email.

America is the most dangerous wealthy country in the world in which to give birth. This is due, in part, to the dramatic racial disparities in maternal and infant mortality. Toxic stress and bias in medical care mean that women of color are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications. Racism is a public health crisis and it is time to treat it as such.

Click here to read the full email.

A large part of our health is determined by our environment. For generations, the impact of pollution and environmental damage has largely fallen on marginalized communities. Systemically racist policies have resulted in people of color having an increased likelihood of exposure to unsafe drinking water, lead paint in homes, and industrial waste. Today we are looking at the environmental justice movement and the people of color pushing for change.

Click here to read the full email.

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” – James Baldwin
The history of the exploitation and brutalization of people of color by doctors and others in the medical field is one of America’s most tragic and largely untold stories. Thanks to the work of people like Harriet Washington, author of Medical Apartheid, there is a new willingness to grapple with the impact of this trauma. Knowing our past is the first step towards a more equitable future.

Click here to read the full email.

Have you ever been to the doctor and been told that the pain or discomfort you are feeling isn’t real or isn’t serious? Do you worry that, in an emergency, unconscious bias could delay or deny you life-saving care? If you are a person of color this is an all to o common experience. Today we are learning how a history of racism in American medicine combined with unconscious bias from health care professionals is impacting the quality of care that people of color receive today.
Well done, you’ve reached Day 21 of the 21 Day Racial Equity & Social Justice Challenge for 2020! The entire YWCA St. Paul team thanks you for your commitment and participation. We started this Challenge in response to the grief and anger felt in our community following the murder of George Floyd and the global protests calling for change to systems that create and maintain racial inequity. We heard from so many people who wanted ‘ this time to be different’ and were seeking to broaden their understanding of racism in our society and ways they can work to eliminate it. Our goal for the Challenge was to offer participants an opportunity to learn, engage in meaningful discussions about race and systemic racism, and commit to take action towards a more just and equitable society.
Completing the Challenge is a good first step on your learning journey, and YWCA St. Paul will continue to offer support by hosting a series of virtual racial equity and social justice conversations throughout the year. On July 14 we hosted a virtual Town Hall that provided an opportunity to learn from a panel of distinguished community experts as they engaged in conversation around racism’s history, impact and how we can each be a catalyst for change. This conversation builds on learnings from the 21 Day Challenge, and lays the groundwork for the interactive conversations to follow.  We invite you to join us for these events – we will send details, or you can visit our website to learn more. We hope you will take this opportunity to learn, engage with others, and sustain action towards eliminating racism. 
If you’d like to dig more deeply into any of the topics covered in the Challenge, or other topics related to racism and racial justice, we’ve compiled a list of resources for your consideration below. A more extensive list of resources is available on our website: .
Again, thank you for your commitment to learning more, to participating in critically necessary dialogue about racism, and to taking action to help eliminate racism from our policies, systems and personal interactions. 


Challenge yourself to invest in your racial equity and social justice development by joining $21for21. Racial equity work is consistently underfunded. Make a $21 investment in your anti-racist development to help YWCA St. Paul continue to provide education and advocacy on areas of racial justice and gender equity, like the 21-Day Challenge. 


YWCA St. Paul wants to thank and acknowledge Dr. Eddie Moore Jr., Debby Irving, and Dr. Marguerite Penick for their leadership in the field of racial equity as exhibited in their 21 Day Racial Equity and Habit Building Challenge and the movement they helped to initiate. YWCA’s content is independently designed, written, and curated by YWCA staff as part of racial equity and social justice programs offered to the community.

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