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YWCA's 21-Day Challenge reflects on reparations and more

As our nation continues to grapple with racial injustice, inequality and racism… a renewed spotlight on education and personal responsibility

OHIO, USA — Listening…. Learning…. Inspiring change.

As our nation continues to grapple with racial injustice, inequality and racism, there's a renewed spotlight on education and personal responsibility.

YWCA is among the many organizations invested in this work. They launched their 21-Day Challenge back in 2019. At the time, 2500 people signed on.

And in 2021, beginning this month, more than 18,000 people across 48 states are choosing to take a deep personal dive into issues of structural racism and social inequity.

"We’ve seen a lot of interest in the challenge growth since the protests around the murder of George Floyd," said YWCA of Greater Cleveland's Paige Robar. "I think a lot of white people are waking up for the first time to realize the depth of systemic racism, and this challenge really gives people to get curious, to expand their knowledge, and gives them the tools to really dig in and hopefully become allies," she explained.

Participants will be presented with challenges such as reading an article, listening to a podcast, reflecting on personal experience and more. Participation in an activity like this helps us to discover how racial injustice and social injustice impact our community, to connect with one another, to identify ways to dismantle racism and other forms of discrimination.

The goal of the challenge is to encourage participants to face how structural racism presents itself in everyday life. Robar says we know the problem, it’s now time to take steps to make it right.

"Reparations was a huge keystone for us this year, because I think there’s been so much conversation about the damage that systemic racism has done, that the next step is to get into how you repair that damage, and reparations seems like the clearest way forward."

Reparations is one of the more controversial topics surrounding giving back to the black community– the idea that blacks should be compensated for the atrocities of slavery, trickling down to racist practices of more recent times, doesn’t sit well with everyone. But in an unprecedented move, Evanston Illinois recently became the first city in the nation to pay reparations to black residents who suffered housing discrimination between the years 1919 and 1969, or their descendants. But this isn’t the first time reparations has been attempted in America. It also happened during the reconstruction era, right after the Civil War.

"There was an attempt to give black people and enslaved people land and ensure voting rights that were eventually rolled back during the Jim Crow era. It continues now with the legacy of redlining, with the wealth gap," Robar said.

The 21-Day Challenge devoted an entire week focusing on reparations alone.

"We're still trying to fix damages that are happening right now at this moment," Robar added.

Now George Floyd is thrust back into the forefront of our minds - as his accused killer’s trial gears up - and  as the world remembers when cities erupted in rallies and protests over his passing - putting one collective voice to a persistent and perpetual problem in the this country - racial and social injustice.

"Systemic racism affects all black people in America," Robar said. Not just those who are direct descendants of enslaved people."

*Editor's Note: The video in the player above is from a panel discussion held March 30 on how race is impacting the Derek Chauvin murder trial.