Rise up, say no to racism on Kauai

The YWCA of Kauai is raising awareness about the negative impact of racism in our community, as part of the YWCA USA annual Stand Against Racism campaign. The campaign is part of the YWCA’s national effort to stand against individual, institutional and structural racism in our community and the nation as a whole.

The YWCA of Kauai has been working towards racial and social justice since 1921, and while progress has been made, the thoughts, attitudes and beliefs that perpetuate racism still exist in our community.

The theme for this year’s campaign is “On a Mission for Girls of Color.” African- American girls make up 17 percent of the nation’s student population and racial disparities in our educational system start early for this group.

For example, black children represent 18 percent of the nation’s preschool enrollment, but represent 42 percent of the preschool children suspended once and 48 percent of preschool children suspended more than once.

Suspension increases the likelihood of dropping out of school, and of being involved with the juvenile justice system. Black girls are 14 percent of the general population nationally, but 33.2 percent of the girls who are detained and committed in juvenile justice systems (the majority of who pose little or no threat to public safety), which can lead to a greater prevalence of low-wage work and unemployment.

Kauai is home to a wide variety of cultures, beliefs and heritages and together we can work to understand and respect each other’s differences.

Working to eliminate racism requires self-reflection and courage. During the month of April, we challenge all members of our community to do the following: consider your own biases and preconceptions of other races and cultures and how those ideas may contribute to racism; start a discussion with another community member about the biases you have and how you may change your thinking; and please attend our community event on Wednesday at the YWCA of Kauai Women’s Center at 4410 Hardy St. in Lihue from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Pupus will be served and all are invited.

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Megan Aucoin, YWCA of Kauai

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