Document 2: Cathy Jones, "Message from the Executive Director," Y's Words (Fall 1993), Portland YWCA Archives, Portland, Oregon.

Portland YWCA Religion, Race & Reform

Document 1

Document 2

Identity Questions

Moving Toward Inclusiveness

Document 2: Cathy Jones, "Message from the Executive Director," Y's Words (Fall 1993), Portland YWCA Archives, Portland, Oregon.

Message from the Executive Director

       One significant aspect of the YWCA movement is the use of Public Policies as guiding principles for determining the services we provide and issues we support. One of these guiding principles, which is also a stated piece of our Mission Statement, is Racial Justice.

       The issue of racism is an extremely sensitive and painful one no matter from what nationality, race, or ethnicity you address it. Those who hold power, and therefore the ability to initiate fundamental change, are normally white. Generally, the white race approaches the issues of racism with a mixture of confusion, guilt, anger, distrust, frustration, and uneasiness. Most Caucasians do not even know how to begin to understand the reality of discrimination, and many do not care to learn. People of color approach the issue of racism with a mixture of distrust, anger, frustration, disgust, and impatience with a dominant race in no hurry to change the status-quo. There is a mix of desire around integration, and in some areas an increased desire to move away from integration to a culturally based society.

       The questions the Portland YWCA is asking are: "How do we break through the initial barriers of distrust and lack of understanding to make real, lasting change? How can we work toward greater understanding and collaboration in the resolution to this painful problem?"

       To begin finding answers, we are forming a Racial Justice Committee, chaired by Board member Mettazee Morris, and made up of members of the YWCA and general community. Our first task will be to clean our own house by assessing where racial barriers exist in the YWCA. We will review our attitudes, policies, operational materials and information, internal employee and volunteer systems. We will also insure that we are effectively trained on the opportunities we have, not only to eliminate the racial barriers currently existing in the YWCA, but also to teach us, as members of society, how to take every opportunity to eradicate racism on an attitudinal and institutional scale. Secondly, we will design and implement a community approach which will offer the opportunity for local people and businesses to work with the YWCA to make the Portland Metropolitan area a healthier and more equitable place to live.

       Our Racial Justice Committee will begin meeting this fall. If you are interested in joining this Committee as an "architect" to design our racial justice plan, please give me a call at 223-6281, ext. 3010 for an application form.

                  Cathy Jones
                  Executive Director

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