YWCA GREATER CHARLESTON PRESENTS
the Racial Equity Institute
We first brought the Racial Equity Institute (REI), nationally recognized for helping communities address institutional racism, to Charleston in January 2017 with seven supportive partners.* With community feedback overwhelmingly positive, we brought back REI’s Phase I workshop a total of 29 times from 2017 to 2020... and counting.
Held from 9 AM to 5 PM on two consecutive weekdays, currently via Zoom, each workshop is led by REI facilitators and is designed to help local leaders proactively understand and address racism in their communities, workplaces, and personal lives.
The price for an individual to attend an REI workshop, at $400, covers our expenses, e.g. our payments to the Racial Equity Institute for their facilitators' time and their valuable content.)
Organizations sponsor board members, executives, staff, or volunteers to attend, or individuals attend on their own. Each come away with dramatically changed worldviews and tools to address racism in their own communities and lives. A few of the organizations that have done so include the Charleston County School District, Charleston County Solicitor's Office, the Coastal Community Foundation, Grace City Church, the North Charleston Police Department, and Reading Partners South Carolina. (Organizations, click here to sign up and pay online.)
* Our partners for our first-ever REI session in January 2017 were Charleston Promise Neighborhood, Coastal Community Foundation, Metanoia, Racial Equity Collaborative, Sophia Institute/Social Justice, Teach for America, and Tri-County Cradle to Career. Our gratitude to all of them!
RACIAL EQUITY INSTITUTE | PHASE I
Our two-day REI Phase I training is designed to develop the capacity of participants to better understand racism in its institutional and structural forms. Moving away from a focus on personal bigotry and bias, this workshop presents a historical, cultural, and structural analysis of racism.
Topics covered include our fish/lake/groundwater analysis of structural racism; understanding and controlling implicit bias; race, poverty, and place; markedness theory; institutional power arrangements and power brokers; importance of definitions of race and racism; history and legacy of race in American economic and policy development; and racial identity and its interaction with institutional culture.
With shared language and a clearer understanding of how institutions and systems are producing unjust and inequitable outcomes, participants should leave the training better equipped to begin to work for change.
RACIAL EQUITY INSTITUTE | PHASE II
We introduced the first REI Phase II workshop in March 2018, and continue to hold these next-level sessions.
Sign up now
Register online here. (If you are seeking a scholarship, apply here! Please note there are only a limited number available, as these are dependent on sponsorships.)
How you can help
Thank you to our Racial Equity Institute sponsors & partners
These local organizations have shown they stand against racism with us! We appreciate the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce for donating meeting space at its new Park Circle location at 4922 O'Hear Avenue, Suite 101, North Charleston 29405 for our REI workshops once we're able to go back to socially distanced in-person workshops, and Apple Spice for providing our REI workshop participants with nutritious, delicious lunches at a special rate, again once we're able to go back to in-person workshops. And we now have a number of scholarships available specifically for executives and staff in the hospitality industry, thanks to a sponsorship by Glowfisch Hospitality Group, owner of Five Loaves Cafe and Sesame Burgers & Beer. Read about it here!
We're also seeking breakfast, coffee, and corporate sponsors. If you're interested in helping us eliminate racism in our region, please contact our equity training coordinator, Tori Burke-Koskela, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
WHAT PHASE I PARTICIPANTS SAY
"REI provided tools and methods to help equip our leaders as we pursue racial reconciliation in and outside of the church. It encouraged personal growth, gave us an opportunity to engage in necessary discussions with a diverse group, and highlighted the importance of naming racism for what it is.
"This workshop is highly beneficial for those unclear about the systems and realities related to institutional racism and its implications on our past, present, and future."
| Jilian Palmer
| Grace City Church
THE CATALYST WE NEEDED
"In order to move forward both personally and professionally, one has to understand how we got to where we are. We cannot make the needed systemic changes without a more thorough understanding of those needs. While I have known for quite some time that our history books are selective, I did not know to what extent. I have a much better understanding of what was missing.
Going through Phase I was the catalyst we needed to move forward as a group to make systemic changes in our part of the criminal justice system. With the background Phase I gave us, we all have a better mindset for introspection into implicit bias, and we have the motivation as an entire office to do all we can to eliminate institutional racism."
| Scarlett Wilson
| Solicitor, 9th Judicial Circuit
"The Racial Equity Institute program is an eye-opening experience about the reality of our need to reconcile with each other. REI educated us about the reality of slavery and the negative impact it had, and still has, on us as a nation. It helped us to understand each other's differences, culture, and the benefits as well as the unfairness inherited by the races as a result of slavery.
"What impacted me the most about REI is that it did not force us to accept the reality of slavery's negative impact on our nation or its unfair practices toward black people. It gave us the opportunity to be honest and realize the importance of digging up and talking about the racist acts that still lay buried, as if they had never happened.
"If I knew someone who was on the fence about attending REI, I would tell them that if they want to play a part in making our nation a better place for them and their family, they need to attend."
| Rev. Anthony Thompson
CHANGING OUR COMMUNITY INTERACTIONS
"I have taken the REI workshop and always consider myself a life student. As the North Charleston Police Department journeys on its professional path, we have to recognize that cultural differences and diverse backgrounds strengthen our community and that as an agency we are part of the community.
"As we protect life and property while building trust through partnerships, relationships, and fellowship, we deal with life issues such as poverty, homelessness, justice, unemployment, education, and crime. REI establishes a historical timeline and factual talking point for law enforcement, which provides the opportunity to build from this training by changing the spectrum of community interactions and crime with a more knowledge-based narrative.
"As public servants, our law enforcement officers have the ability every day to be a conduit in their approach to social justice and racial equity."
| Major Joyce Smith
| N Charleston Police Department
OUR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR TALKS ABOUT REI
Want to know more about the impact the Racial Equity Institute can have? Check out this May 2019 interview on Quintin's Close-Ups, where LaVanda discusses our #WhatWomenBring event and then the Racial Equity Institute.