Even in 2013, the reverberations of a long history of sexism and racism in our country continue to shake our nation at its core. A historically racist justice system penalizes and imprisons people of color, men specifically, at incredible rates. When kids of color are killed, justice routinely goes unserved. Likewise, women of all colors face the constant threat of violence at the hands of men – these crimes too often go unpunished. We face an imbalance of power and resources. White women earn on average 77% of what white men earn. Men of color also earn only a fraction of white male wages. Women of color earn the least. White men still comprise the vast majority of decision making bodies, most prominently the United States Congress and the corporate world.
The YWCA Orange County works daily to ensure that the future continues to be brighter than the past for women and people of color. In order to move forward, we cannot believe the lie that equality has been achieved. We cannot believe the lie that those who point out racism and sexism are whiners or trouble makers. Instead, we must be the voice of reason when the blame is placed on those experiencing disenfranchisement and not those wielding the power. We must ask the right questions. We must ask ourselves how we perpetuate a racist and sexist culture – and be honest about the answers. The work towards ending oppression can be done both in our living rooms and in Albany and Washington. This year we watched the Supreme Court overrule the Voting Rights Act and we watched New York State Senate pass over a historic piece of women’s rights legislation – the Women’s Equality Act. As we have learned from the efforts of both Dr. King and the Suffragists – every voice for justice is valuable, every voice is needed.
No one person or agency can achieve justice. We must ALL work toward equality.
This year, as we celebrate these historic events, we reflect on our history of progress toward justice, look critically at the challenges we presently face, and look towards a future of free of sexism and racism.