By Tracie Isaac –
The YWCA of Rochester and Monroe County’s “5th Annual Stand Against Racism Conference” took place at the Joseph A. Floriano Rochester Riverside Convention Center recently.
This year, panel participants presented issues addressing the conference’s overall focus, “Women of Color Working Beyond the Glass Ceiling.”
Alejandra Y. Castillo, CEO of the YWCA USA, and a special guest speaker during the event, shared her journey as a Latina, observing the issue of racism across America, citing the work that needs to be done in several cities in which she’s resided, ranging from New York to Washington, DC.
“Be uncomfortable, because that is the sign of the need for change,” Castillo stated. “The time is now. If not you, who? If not now, when?”
YWCA president and CEO Jean Carroll, and the organization’s vice president of Racial Equality, Miriam Moore-Burt, also highlighted the effect of civic engagement during the event.
According to Carroll, the “Stand” initiative has increased awareness regarding racism locally, and encouraged participants to engage in conversations to address the issue; while Moore said civic engagement can also be used as a powerful tool to eliminate racism.
Carroll also gave an inspiring farewell speech during the conference, which coincides with her last year as YWCA president.
Ultimately, the YWCA’s goal is to, “reach people individually, and create team approaches within institutions to identify policies and practices that are barriers to creating a diverse and inclusive environment for the institution’s staff and customers,” the group said.
Alexis Arnold, an anchor at 13 WHAM News, emceed the event, and Arnold facilitated the discussion among the following panelists: Corinda Crossdale, commissioner, Monroe County Department of Human Services; Ahila Kitwana, lead engineer, Specialty Engineering, Space and Intelligence Systems, Harris Corporation; Tina MacIntyre-Yee, photo journalist for the Democrat and Chronicle, part of the USA Today Network; Dr. Tomicka Wagstaff, assistant vice president, Student Access and Success, Division of Diversity and Inclusion, Rochester Institute of Technology.
Throughout the month of April, the YWCA has partnered with several local organizations and businesses in an effort to increase awareness regarding race and diversity.