TOLEDO, Ohio — The ways we fight racism are constantly changing, but division has never been a solution, the president and CEO of the YWCA of Northwest Ohio, Lisa McDuffie said. Reaching out to new and different people is where we go from here.
"Get outside your circle and get exposed to individuals that don't necessarily look like you and think like you," she said. "That's how you are going to really embrace diversity."
She also said stepping out of your comfort zone is necessary to create spaces of equity and inclusion. This year, the organization's annual Stand Against Racism Conference on Thursday was dedicated to collaborative conversations.
"Stand Against Racism is all about bringing attention to the fact that we can not stop," McDuffie said. "We must unite and we must make sure we look around and know that this work must continue. And what better way to do that than on the anniversary death of George Floyd?"
Leaders of the YWCA are bringing people with different backgrounds together. And Loretta J. Ross, a professor and activist from Atlanta, Georgia, attended the conference to share effective conversation techniques.
"We cannot transform our culture without transforming ourselves, and so we have to give people the benefit of the doubt," Ross said. "Be loving and patient with each other and invite people into conversations instead of fights."
Ross said her activism is seen in the love she shows to everyone. She said in every conversation, you should be seeking common ground.
"It's so important for us to defend the democracy that is so fragile, that we create a society that works to include people versus excluding them and that we really do leave our children a better world," she said.