Students and community members unite for ‘stand against racism stance’


Maddie Leopardo/Iowa State Daily

A peaceful protester stands on Lincoln Way with members of the Ames-ISU YWCA for a peaceful stand of unity against racism on April 27. YWCA is on a mission to eliminate racism, empower women, stand up for social justice, help families, and strengthen communities. 

Whitney Mason

The cool and windy temperatures did not prevent almost 20 participants from standing outside at the corner of Lincoln Way and University Boulevard with one simple message: Stop racism.

Drivers passing by saw the signs saying “Stand Against Racism” and people either honked their horns, waved or just glanced as they drove past down Lincoln Way.

The Stand Against Racism Campaign is a national and annual YWCA event where in April each community is encouraged to do something in hopes to bring awareness to ending racism in our society.

While each year the Ames-ISU YWCA has something small acknowledging the national event, this year the Ames organization decided to take a physical stand for everyone to see.

“We want Ames to take a stand,” said Kristin Johnson, the board president. “We want to have an actual presence in the community.”

Johnson said that the mission of the organization is to support and empower women and minorities and encourage community collaboration in hopes of uniting one another within the community.

Angela Merrick, YWCA Executive Director, said that Ames YWCA’s International Friendship Fair is another program the organization puts on where children in the community are introduced to other cultures and perspectives around the world in the attempt to eliminate racism early on.

“We don’t need to have boundaries,” Merrick said.

Merrick’s own personal experience with the event was taking her 4-year-old son and him becoming intrigued with learning about other cultures.

Even though the cold weather almost deterred Toni Ruhl, a junior in management and MIS, from attending the event, in the end she was excited that she went.

“I was nervous that people would take it as something not peaceful,” said Ruhl about people believing it to be a protest and not a stance.

Ruhl’s experiences in her high school led to her decision to join YWCA once she came to Iowa State.

In her small Iowa hometown, there was a small amount of African Americans and Ruhl could recall many of the African American students had to deal with racism.

One of Ruhl’s friends who was African American later would take his life. The racism he encountered was a factor.

Ruhl now hopes to make a change and empower those around her. Stand Against Racism’s website gives people the ability to make a pledge.

The Ames-ISU YWCA’s website has additional information on their other projects such as their mentoring program and International Friendship Fair.

Editor’s note: This article has corrected titles of those affiliated with the YWCA.