Stand Against Racism brings together community

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Evanston residents at last year’s Stand Against Racism.

It’s your responsibility to make a change.

At the fifth annual YWCA Stand Against Racism on April 29, you’ll have the chance to do just that with thousands of other citizens of Evanston and Skokie.

“The Stand Against Racism is an opportunity for people to do something publically in their office, school, or house or worship to say, ‘we acknowledge that racism still exists, and we are saying out loud that we are going to stand up in whatever ways we can,’” said Eileen Heineman, coordinator of the Stand Against Racism.

Lining Ridge Avenue and Church Street, participating students, educators, community members and local organizations will hold signs in solidarity, take a pledge to dismantle racism individually and collectively, and participate in discussions.

“There was someone on a megaphone shouting, we were chanting and feeling a sense of companionship with each other,” commented junior Jasper Davidoff, who attended the stand last year. “It was really cheerful.”

A national YWCA initiative started originally in New Jersey, the stand came to Evanston in 2011. Since then it has expanded by partnering with Niles Township, totaling over 10,000 members in attendance. This year, over 65 local organizations are recognizing the importance and joining in.

“We’re doing more significant outreach,” said Heineman. “ We’re building Northwestern’s participation, last year it was the first time a significant number of Northwestern groups participated. We want to continue that.”

For junior Hugo Flores, the stand reflects our nation’s changing attitude towards race. “People are more open-minded now ever since the big movement of Black Lives Matter,” he explained. “ I feel like many other people can start to show up and help make it more official,” Flores added.

While the national YWCA campaign launches their Stand Against Racism with the theme “On a Mission for Girls of Color,” Evanston’s event strives to include more voices in the discussion. The event is unique for being multi-age, multi-faith, and multiracial, with all members unified by a single goal.

“Racism affects everyone,” said senior Nina Lin. “ It doesn’t matter if you’re a white student with privilege or a student of color.  It happens in our hallways, it happens to our friends.”

Interested students can walk outside the school during their lunch or free period at 12:30 pm or visit with their classes.  “People should go do it so they can learn and experience something amazing,” commented Flores. “ So that people can see that a small town like this is willing to stand up.”