Stand Against Racism
Challenge

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.

About STAND AGAINST RACISM challenge

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!

Testimonials

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 MHarperFrance@ywcastpaul.org.

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: ywcastpaul.org/anti-racism-resource-list/ .
 
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. 
 

2022 Challenge

Week 1 - Critical Race Theory

If you followed the news at all this past year, you probably heard about Critical Race Theory and what students are learning about race and racism in schools. Today, we are going to take the time to explore what CRT is, dispel some common misconceptions, and take a deep dive into the origins of this important academic movement.

Click here to read the full email.

The backlash against Critical Race Theory in schools is partially a reaction to a push by teachers to correct the stereotypes and narratives in their curriculum that devalued people of color’s contributions and experiences. Today, we are going to talk about some of the ways that schools have failed to teach difficult truths and erased people of color.

Click here to read the full email.

Because of the racism embedded in school curriculum teachers have moved to update their lesson plans with an antiracist lens. These resources discuss how teachers have made necessary changes, how students are responding to this richer view of history, and why these conversations are so important to have with children and young people.

Click here to read the full email.

Truth-telling is vital to a functioning democracy, even if it is painful. Unfortunately, that is becoming more difficult in our classrooms as more States pass bills banning Critical Race Theory in schools. Barred from talking openly about the impact of systemic racism, sexism, and homophobia, educators are left with the choice between failing to teach their students basic facts about American history and potential legal consequences that could end their careers.

Click here to read the full email.

The backlash against Critical Race Theory is a symptom of our unwillingness to talk about or acknowledge racism. In order for our country to heal we need to be willing to have difficult conversations about the harm systemic oppression has done and is continuing to do to people of color. Today’s resources share stories about how other countries reckoned with their painful history and how we as Americans can use these examples to find our own way forward towards justice and growth.

Click here to read the full email.

Week 2 - Living Wage

A living wage is defined as a minimum income necessary for an individual to meet their basic needs such as food, housing, clothing, etc. The weekly median salary for full-time workers is $49,450. That means half of full-time workers make less, and when they have children, the math looks even darker. The pandemic put into sharp focus the importance of historically undervalued jobs in retail, health care, and foodservice. It is long past time to ensure that full-time workers make a living wage. Use these resources to find out what the living wage would need to be in your community to provide a decent standard of living.

Click here to read the full email.

When the federal minimum wage was put into place in 1938, employers were required to pay their workers $.25 per hour. Contrary to popular belief, President Franklin Roosevelt intended this to be a living wage that meant more than subsistence. Since then, the minimum wage has not kept pace with increased productivity or even inflation. Today, we are going to learn more about the history of the minimum wage, how and why it no longer reflects the needs of everyday Americans and its disproportionate impact on people marginalized by racism and sexism.

Click here to read the full email.

YWCA is committed to the health, safety, and economic empowerment of women of color. Because people marginalized by racism and sexism make up a disproportionate number of low-wage workers, raising today’s minimum wage to a living wage has the potential to be an important tool for achieving economic justice and closing the racial and gender pay gaps.

Click here to read the full email.

Increasingly, people are reevaluating what they need from their workplaces. This year, employees resigned in record numbers to take care of their families, to find jobs that were more flexible or offered better pay, or to find a workplace that shared their values. Paying a living wage is an important way that employers can continue to attract workers, demonstrate that they value their employees, and are committed to creating an equitable organization.

Click here to read the full email.

Week 3 - Film/Television

The first celluloid film was shot in 1888, just 23 years after the end of the civil war. Since then, the medium of film has been a powerful tool, both for perpetuating white supremacy and for challenging it. One of the darkest chapters in the history of Hollywood is the institutionalization of the Hays Code 1934 and 1968, a self-imposed set of guidelines that ensured that ideas and depictions in opposition to institutionalized racism, sexism, and homophobia, would not have a platform in mainstream film of the time.

Click here to read the rest of the email.

2020 was a high watermark year for LGBTQ+ representation in media. We have come a long way from the Hays code ban depicting gay and lesbian people and the stereotypical gay best friend characters of the ’90s and 2000s. Although a greater number of more nuanced and diverse depictions of queer people are still badly needed, young people searching for representation have a wider variety of characters and stories than ever to share both the struggles and joys of the LGBTQ+ experience.

Click here to read the rest of the email.

Othering is the conscious or unconscious assumption that certain groups pose an imminent threat to the group in power. Othering in mass media has been used to deadly effect and has been one of the most successful strategies for perpetuating white supremacy. Today, we will be exploring the topic of othering through the lens of Islamophobia and the American media’s response to 9/11 and the War on Terror and its continued impact.

Click here to read the rest of the email.

Colorism and anti-blackness are a bias against people with darker skin and any other features that differ from white, Eurocentric beauty standards. Children with darker skin experience more discipline in school than lighter-skinned people of color and as adults, they face higher rates of hiring discrimination. It is no different in film and television where light-skinned people of color are more likely to be featured, particularly as protagonists and romantic leads than dark-skinned actors.

Click here to read the rest of the email.

Marian Wright Edelman, Founder and President of the Children’s Defense Fund said, “You can’t be what you can’t see.” Film and Television have a unique power both to inspire us to achieve our goals and to perpetuate harmful stereotypes that keep marginalized people from reaching their full potential. These resources explore both how a lack of representation can be extremely harmful, and how diverse representation can empower people marginalized by racism, sexism, and ableism.

Click here to read the rest of the email.

Week 4 - Reproductive Justice

Each month, 800 million people get their period and need access to menstrual products and resources, but these are not always accessible. Period poverty is inadequate access to period products and menstrual cycle education. According to Days for Girls, 25% of people who menstruate experience period poverty. Even in the richest country in the world, many people do not have the essentials they need, particularly if they are a part of marginalized communities.
 
Click here to read the rest of the email.

What is taught about sex, relationships, and our bodies looks different everywhere and reflects the beliefs and values of the culture we are raised in. However, regardless of where we grow up and who we learn from, knowing the basic facts about how our bodies work is critical for our health and safety, particularly for women and girls. Today we are talking about how comprehensive sex education can be used as a tool for creating equity and forming healthy relationships with those around us.

Click here to read the rest of the email.

In 2021, the United States has seen the highest number of abortion restrictions ever made in a single year. Despite the laws being passed by state legislatures that have the effect of ending abortion access for many women, these rules do not reflect the opinion of the majority of Americans. Although abortion access is often talked about in the media as a highly polarized political issue, everyday Americans hold space for the complexities the abortion and understand how personal it is. Only 11% of Americans would deny abortion access to save the life of the mother, only 33% of Americans agree with restricting abortion after 6-8 weeks of pregnancy, and 24% say that providers should be criminalized for providing abortions. Abortion is an essential part of healthcare, particularly when it comes to racial, gender, and economic justice. Use these resources to learn more about abortion restrictions in your state and their impact.

Click here to read the rest of the email.

Women need to have the bodily autonomy to make the best reproductive choices for themselves and their families. Rather than ending abortion, state abortion restrictions would have a disproportionate impact on low-income women, particularly low-income women of color, who do not have the resources to travel to access reproductive care. These pieces highlight the stories of women who have had or were denied, an abortion, and the impact that it had on their lives.
 
Click here to read the rest of the email.

Reproductive justice is a wider set of ideas than just ensuring women can decide if and when to have children. Reproductive Justice advocates are shining a light on how systemic racism, including police violence against black and brown people, violates the rights of women of color to raise their families in a safe environment, free of the physical and psychological impact of systemic racism. These resources explore the powerful link between the black lives matter movement and the movement for reproductive justice.

Click here to read the rest of the email.

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: ywcastpaul.org/anti-racism-resource-list/ .
 
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. 
 

Attribution

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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