Commitment to anti-racism and equity at any institution has to go beyond buzzwords and social media posts. It has to be something that is insisted upon and shown in day-to-day practices. The YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago recognizes this, and that is why they are actualizing for a second year the “21 Days of Equity Challenge.”
For 21 days — as long as it takes to establish a habit — the YMCA is inviting staff and community members to commit themselves to understanding the equity issues that are prevalent in our communities, and to “pledge to do one action everyday to further [their] understanding of equity, diversity and inclusion using the tools and supportive space provided.” Daily exercises will include readings, multimedia activities and actions of solidarity — all of which support the main themes of: health equity, economic development and community safety.
However, the YMCA isn’t the only institution in the city making efforts toward the development of community-wide integrity. Chicago Public Schools are getting a jump start on their five-year plan for bolstering equity in their districts by positioning it as a core value in everything they do. Measures are being taken such as eliminating opportunity gaps in education quality and creating new policies. “Achieving our vision will require examining every inequity, mining every resource, and engaging every community until students in all corners of our city have access to the high-quality education they deserve,” said Janice K. Jackson, ED.D, Chief Executive Officer, CPS.
Yet, addressing issues of equity within our communities must go beyond individual recognition. Under the Biden-Harris Administration, the first-ever Equity Action Plan contains over 300 concrete strategies for combating this systemic issue on a national level. The key to sussing out the problem and stopping it at the root is learning just how far the issue goes. That is why from the top down — from the President’s Cabinet members to federal grant writers — the seeds of equity are being sown.
Register for YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago’s Equity Challenge, running April 30 – May 20.
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Margaret Smith is a Chicago-based writer and editor with a passion for socio-political storytelling about their community. They are a graduate of Columbia College Chicago.