On March 3rd, 2020, just a few days before the pandemic forced many of us to shelter in place, the Confronting Racism Coalition (CRC), a civic action group, held a highly productive retreat at Harrisburg Area Community College’s York campus. A grant from YCCF’s Fund for York County supported the retreat. The goal of the CRC retreat was to identify how members would move forward to address systemic racism in York County.
The mission statement of the CRC is: “To create sustainable change by breaking down systemic racial barriers and promoting healing, equity, and inclusion for all.” The coalition is comprised of local community leaders and residents of both the City of York and York County, including several members of the YCCF staff.
At the meeting in March, the volunteer group worked to identify 2-3 systems of racism and oppression that exist in York and develop an action plan for each.
The retreat was led by Dr. Monea Abdul-Majeed, former YWCA York’s Racial Justice Coordinator, a position funded in part by YCCF and Pastor Dr. Larry Thomas Walthour who presented survey findings and information on institutionalized racism and its harmful effects on our community.
Nicole Shaffer, CRC Planning Committee member recalls how she felt at the event, “It was a great day for us to come together and recommit to our work. I vividly remember how everyone voiced the need to secure funding to support this work, and I committed myself to making that happen.”
Members of the group identified key themes impacting CRC’s work in the community:
1. The need to move quickly from talking to acting
2. The lack of awareness of racism in York County
3. The willingness to become engaged in systemic change and stay committed
One of the biggest structural challenges identified at the meeting included the need to repair and build trust within communities of color in order to heal and carry out the important work of confronting and dismantling racism in York. “This is not something that can be rushed. We had to face mistakes and reinvest in our relationships with one another to move forward. I’m forever grateful to have gone through the fire with this group of community builders, and to have come out on the other side, ready to dig in.”
Since that day in March, the world recognized there was more than one pandemic surging across our nation. The summer of 2020 was marked with international human rights protests in major cities across Europe to small towns in Karachi, Pakistan. The world was responding in outrage to the video proof of the murder of George Floyd and countless other attacks against unarmed black people. Racism was being confronted globally and demands for justice increased in several communities – including in York.
During this difficult time, the CRC focused on providing space for BIPOC (Black and Indigenous People of Color) and their allies to connect and support one another, while the planning committee worked through structural challenges the organization was facing. A grant from YCCF’s Fund for York County was secured to hire staff support to advance its mission.
“A shining moment was pulling together to organize the United 4 Change rally in April 2021. It was the first time many of us had been together in person during the pandemic, and it felt incredible to provide a platform to the many powerful voices in our community” shared Nicole. “The CRC would not be where we are today without grant funding and the general support from YCCF and its leadership.
With the community’s support, the CRC has accomplished the following:
- Secured talented professionals to lead anti-racism trainings for CRC members
- Lead the United 4 Change Rally downtown
- Been a catalyst for welcoming workplace initiatives at York County Economic Alliance
- Encouraged local organizations and businesses to speak out against the DEI resource ban at Central York School District (CYSD) by submitting an Op-ed to the York Daily Record
- Continued to provide space for those working on DEI initiatives to connect and find support as the community navigates challenging issues
By continuing to collaborate with local grass roots and business leaders and by speaking out against the Central York’s resource ban, the group held to its mission of addressing racism and promoting healing, equity, and inclusion for everyone in our county.
York County Community Foundation supports the efforts of organizations striving to make York County a place where everyone is seen as a valued member of society and is offered the opportunity to thrive.
If you are interested in joining the CRC or would like more information, please send an email to: [email protected]
You can read the CRC’s Op-ed in the York Daily Record here.