On Tuesday, I sent my local YMCA this letter asking them to remove an offensive picture in their fitness facility and to reconsider the overt cultural appropriation and racism in their “Indian Guides” programming, which I initially wrote about here.
I was pleasantly surprised that less than an hour after I sent the email, I received a response directly from the Executive Director:
Thank you for writing this letter and bringing these most critical things to my attention. Please know I apologize on behalf of the Y and will do everything to ensure this is changed.
I am meeting with my staff tomorrow and will have a response to you then regarding the action we are taking.
Again, thank you.
That was Tuesday afternoon, so I’m still waiting to hear what was decided at the staff meeting, but a good first step, don’t you think?
UPDATE 6/10: The Associate Executive Director of the Y emailed me to ask if we could set up an in-person meeting:
I am the Associate Executive Director for the [name] YMCA. My supervisor, [Executive Director] has shared with me your letter and we have met to discuss the issues in which you have brought to our attention. I have also shared your letter with [employee] who directly supervises the program.
We would like to set up a time to meet with you to further discuss and work together to accomplish a positive outcome. If you are open to meeting with us, please let me know your availability next week.
Thank you for your time,
Unfortunately, I’m in Boston, so I’m hoping we can set up a phone call to talk more. What I’m worried about is that they’ll ask for a compromise, because it doesn’t seem feasible to change the entire culture of a program like the Indian Guides overnight–but I don’t know what a middle ground would look like, or if it’s even possible. I’d welcome any ideas.