Stand Against Racism: Women of Color Leading Change

May 5, 2017

On April 27th, as part of the YWCA’s annual Stand Against Racism campaign, Everyday Democracy, in collaboration with The Discovery Center and The Alliance, hosted a “Living (Room) Discussion” with women of color leading change in Hartford. This year marks the tenth anniversary of this national event, which was created to promote awareness about racism and its effects, and to build community among racial justice practitioners.

As MalaPanelists, L to R: Amal Ali, Arvia Walker, and Shonta' Browdyna Rogers-Bursen, Everyday Democracy Program Associate, explained, this year’s theme, Women of Color Leading Change, provided an opportunity to honor and uplift the vital work women of color have always done to hold up their communities. Their work as changemakers is too often devalued and made invisible.

After a networking reception, Malana moderated a conversation with panelists Arvia Walker of Planned Parenthood Southern New England and CTCORE-Organize Now, Amal Ali of Lead by Example and The Institute for Community Research, and Shonta’ Browdy of P.U.R.P.O.S.E and the Greater Hartford NAACP. The women shared their stories about their work for education equity and reproductive and racial justice. They spoke about their paths to activism, how they practice self-care, their role models, and more.

Asked to share their own visions for their communities, Arvia said “My biggest vision is to build power and to shift power…I’m really interested in communities of color taking power without asking.” Amal said she envisions a community where people address issues of oppression instead of ignoring them. Shonta’ shared that her greatest vision is a community of people who have hope and feel that change is possible.

Njideka Ofoleta, Communications Fellow at The Discovery Center, then took the stage to ask the panelists a series of rapid-fire questions that allowed us to get to know the women more personally. After they shared how they practice self-care, Njideka showed a video about the work of Sacred Women International, an organization that emphasizes “the spiritual and emotional well-being of African, Caribbean, and Black Women across the diaspora.”

In closing, Malana encouraged women of color to prioritize self-care. To everyone else, she urged that they support women of color and stand against racism not just on Stand Against Racism Day, but every day.


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