Editor's Note

Racism and our heroes at the YWCA

When it comes to honest discussion about racism, I know that there are only a handful of absolute truths. One of those is that a true, frank conversation is difficult. It is uncomfortable for all involved. Sitting in the large community room at the Tucson YWCA off Bonita Avenue in Menlo Park this is something all of us agreed on immediately at the table I joined for the brown-bag lunch conversation the YWCA hosted at its headquarters on Friday, April 24. Fourteen other businesses and organizations across the city hosted similar lunches for the YWCA's Stand Against Racism day. This is part of the YWCA's mission, but I know from past experience, that even this wonderful organization has had its own struggles on how to deploy this mission, how to embrace the community it serves and how to be a place for all us to call home. I can honestly say the work it's been doing the past two years, the staff it has in place—well, we are lucky to have a YWCA in this community, now ready to call us out, so to speak. Looking at the news last night (Monday, April 27) as Baltimore protests on the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray turned violent (Gray allegedly died April 12 from a fatal spinal cord injury while in police custody), I thought about the YWCA event and the fact that it didn't seem like this was the end of a much-needed conversation. At least I hope not. Last night and this morning, making its way through our Tucson social media, many people I know struggled with the posts they saw through the night and many chose to post their own reactions and perspective. But overall, the big question, wasn't one any of us could answer through the confines of Facebook: What is really going on in Baltimore and the rest of our country? Is it race? Is it an out of control police force? Is our society broken? An investigation done by the Baltimore Sun last year stood out: "Undue Force," Sept. 28, 2014, on how the perception that Baltimore police officers are violent has eroded the relationship between cops and residents in a city that struggles. Organizers in Baltimore are pointing to racist policies that led to the actions of Monday night. Perhaps. So here in Tucson, far, far away, but not really, we started a conversation this month on a very difficult topic. First, let's thank the YWCA for getting us to those tables, but really, ultimately, isn't up to us to keep the conversation going, not matter how difficult or uncomfortable it makes us feel? Don't we owe it to ourselves and the city we call home?

— Mari Herreras, mherreras@tucsonweekly.com

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