Eliminating racism, Empowering women, the YWCA Wheeling has been committed to equity and inclusion for 114 years. Since the death of George Floyd, the YWCA Wheeling has met with local government officials, police departments, concerned citizens and businesses alike investigating policy, identifying allies and educating the community with bold videos and a strong stance that Wheeling should be the first city in the State of WV to declare racism a public health crisis and thereby implementing long overdue systemic change.
COVID-19 is the worst public health crisis we’ve seen in our lifetime but that same crisis is prompting leaders to take note of another emergency, one that has been ongoing for centuries: Racism.
The City of Wheeling, WV is the most recent city to take notice and boldly acknowledge racism as a public health crisis. Along with states like Michigan, Nevada and Wisconsin and local governments in Ohio and Pennsylvania, something that health professionals have identified as a public health issue for well over a decade.
When health experts refer to racism as a public health issue they are referring to the ways that racism affects every part of a person: where they live, where they go to school, their education opportunities, their income and wealth and their access to food and healthcare. There are clear statistics that black and brown people experience worse health outcomes than their white counterparts in nearly every category – no matter their socioeconomic status.
Wheeling’s City Government has taken a bold step today towards equity for all of its citizens and the YWCA Wheeling is proud to stand alongside the city as we fight for justice until justice just is.
“This isn’t the end of our work” Lori Jones stated, “This allows us to be more direct and work with the city on actionable items that will help level the playing field for the entire community. A community is always better as a unified collective entity where everyone is heard and no one stands alone.”
Recent events have not changed the mission or focus of the YWCA Wheeling. They have only served as a catalyst gaining momentum. Once again, we find ourselves, as an organization, seeking ways to bring about justice, equality and dignity for all in our community. Strengthening our position by bringing vested community leaders together to discuss, share and work TOGETHER.
During a meeting in June, Mayor Elliot said it best,” eradicating systemic racism requires more than just ensuring that the individuals we put in positions of power are not themselves racist; it requires an assessment of the historical forces that were in play when the systems, rules, and norms we take for granted today were formed. “