YWCA Olympia’s Racial Justice Summit: Intent Vs. IMPACT

by Christina Butcher for OLY ARTS

There are times when a community must come together and rally for social justice, awareness and inclusion, though the issues at hand should’ve been resolved long ago. Over the last year, racism has proven to be one of those issues, on both a local and a national level. This month, YWCA Olympia is taking a stand against racism once again. It calls community members to push back against the issue at its inaugural Racial Justice Summit: Intent vs. IMPACT this Saturday. “This event will elevate the voices and experiences of diverse and local community members who have marginalized identities, as they experience the deepest impacts of racism and oppression,” said Lanessa Inman, YWCA Olympia’s racial-justice director. “They are not often heard or even provided a visible platform to speak about their experiences living here.”

The daylong event includes spoken-word performances, a panel discussion and workshops and caucuses focused on opening community-wide dialogue and understanding experiences of people of color in Thurston County. Nikkita Oliver, a spoken-word artist and activist based out of Seattle, will open the event as the keynote speaker. “It is very important right now to discuss the issue of racism in a way that people understand,” Inman expressed. “It is a public-health crisis that impacts everyone and we need to address it in a way that is real and meaningful. This is something we feel Nikkita does so well — from her incredibly beautiful gift with words and personal life experience, to her deep understanding of how racism and systemic oppression thrive in a community like ours.”

Originally from Indianapolis, Oliver has been living and studying in Seattle since 2004. Her experience leading anti-racism protests and her work with youth in juvenile detention made her the ideal choice for the summit’s keynote speaker. In 2015, she was the recipient of the Seattle Office of Civil Rights Artist Human Rights Leader Award. YWCA Olympia also invited Alexis Cariello, Heather Penny, Sarah Stockholm and Eileen Yoshina to hold workshops at the event.

“While a Racial Justice Summit has been in the works for some time, the racially charged hate crimes that occurred before and after the presidential election prioritized the timing for this first-annual event,” Inman shared. “Right now, we are glad that so many community members are expressing interest in getting involved in anti-racist work in whatever way they can.”

What: Social Justice Summit

When:  9 a.m. Saturday, May 6

Where: South Puget Sound Community College,
2011 Mottman Rd. SW, Olympia

How much: $60-$75 (needs-based scholarships available)

Learn more: 360-352-0593 | 2017 Racial Justice Summit

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