Happy 2022 from YWCA Utah. Racial equity is a state of social change that seeks to eliminate racial disparities by an ongoing and intentional practice of changing policies, systems, and structures. Our Learn More. Do More. newsletter is dedicated to continued learning and exploration of ways to take action in racial equity and social justice work. From podcasts to books, virtual workshops to movies—we’ve outlined helpful resources below that offer great starting points.
GUEST WRITER: NKENNA ONWUZURUOHA
Nkenna Onwuzuruoha hails from Georgia and is a Ph.D. candidate in Writing and Rhetoric Studies at the University of Utah. She has had the privilege of mentoring for YWCA Utah’s Woke Words program and teaching writing and social justice courses at the University of Utah, Westminster, and Salt Lake Community College.
ON TO THE CONTENT…
As many have advocated throughout history, looking to the past can help us progress our efforts towards racial equity today. Research from the student newspaper at San Francisco State in the late 1960s chronicled the Black Student Union’s political activity on campus. Extensive reading through the publication’s archives taught that organizing could not be done alone or exclusively within an affinity group. Success came from institutional change.
San Francisco State was the first higher education institution in the nation to develop a Black Studies program. To achieve this success, the BSU worked with a larger multiethnic coalition—the Third World Liberation Front. Similar learnings showed that arts, education, and community service go hand in hand with movements fighting for political change. SF State’s BSU was active in the Bay Area, the epicenter for the Black Power Movement, and was also inspired by the Black Arts Movement in Chicago. The group was persistent in demanding that the student government provide more funds for its neighborhood after school program and for visiting professor, renowned poet Amiri Baraka, to oversee its Black Arts and Culture Series.
As we do our part to advance racial equity, it is imperative to reflect on the grounded approaches from the past to accomplish our goals. In January, we take the most concerted time to remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dedication to eliminating racism. Consider his legacy a road map to the social change we can make happen today.
In keeping with the theme of learning from the past, read this student activism work from acclaimed scholar and writer of How to be an Antiracist Ibram Kendi. Kendi also has a small section on the 1971 controversy behind the University of Utah’s first Black homecoming queen, Phillita Carney.
Let us not forget the many people of color experiencing multiple forms of oppression along with the weight of racial injustice and how the digital space desperately needs revolutionizing. Pritchard’s work offers an under-valued account of how Black queer people form identities and find (or are shunned from) certain online communities.
By Laurie Penny
By Marie Solis
Healing From Whiteness
By Lester Sloan and Aisha Sabatini Sloan
Luna Bunari, Executive Director of the Utah Muslim League describes her organization as the only advocacy and civic group for Muslims in Utah. Her idea of advancing racial equity starts with understanding that “we are where you are” as immigrants, natural born citizens, and community members deserving of equal representation.
Volunteer for a nonprofit that works to address social inequities. These organizations do the work of ending racial disparities as well. For example, The Bicycle Collective donates refurbished bicycles to refugees, immigrants, and other communities who are disproportionally people of color.