Rafael Barker can be found at a variety of community events with a camera or a clipboard in hand. He works in the insurance industry and gives freely of his time to many groups in the community.

“I was adopted from Colombia, South America; my parents transplanted here from New York City. Though I understand I’m a country boy from Sissonville, my adoptive background and my parents’ big city origins helped shape how I see the world. 

Difficulties exist being raised in a fairly homogeneous community. The more exposure we have to communities outside of our own, to other cultures, the more we’re able to find common ground. 

When you consider racism isn’t born but taught, you get a sense of how to combat racism—get to the core of who people are. I have the genetics of my birth, the experiences of my youth, and the larger world perspective of my parents as part of my rooted identity. Even so, my own identity was confused by being genetically Latino, but raised by two white parents in a mostly white community. 

I didn’t have many other Latino-presenting community members to lean on for that side of my identity. Cultural education in my youth was of school-hosted ‘cultural fairs,’ where we were exposed to the cultures of other countries, but not necessarily the people. We didn’t have much curriculum connected to exploring ethnic diversity, learning about civil rights activists, of reaching beyond our homogeneity. 

How can we give people the opportunity to be their fullest self? How can we work together to see our community become the best it can be?”

You can ensure anti-racism and diversity initiatives happen in our community.

Help share these stories, get more information or share your own story.

© 2019 YWCA Charleston, WV

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OUR MISSION

At YWCA Charleston we are dedicated to our mission: eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.

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