49 Voices: Darlena Fritzler of Wasilla

This week we’re hearing from Darlena Fritzler, of Wasilla. Fritzler is the Development Manager for the Alaska branch of the YWCA.

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Darlena Fritzler lives in Wasilla. (Photo by Wesley Early, Alaska Public Media - Anchorage)
Darlena Fritzler lives in Wasilla. (Photo by Wesley Early, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage)

FRITZLER: Our mission is to eliminate racism and empower women. We’re actually not related to the YMCA at all, which is a very common misconception. The YWCA used to stand for Young Women’s Christian Association a very long time ago. Now it’s just initials. We like to say Young Women Can Achieve.

Anchorage specifically has the most diverse population in the United States. (Editor’s note: While Anchorage has the nation’s most diverse neighborhood: Mountain View, as a municipality, Alaska’s largest city is about average in diversity when compared to the rest of the United States.) We speak at least, last time I looked, 90 different languages in our schools. So I think with that, we have a ton of issues when it comes to eliminating racism for instance.

I’m obviously privileged. I’m a white woman, a professional woman. And I don’t see a whole lot of the prejudice that a lot of other people do. My husband is not; he’s Hispanic and, growing up here, he grew up in a completely white family, and he doesn’t notice when it happens to him.

For instance, we went to Washington a few months ago. And I’m TSA pre-check…. never have a problem. Go through the airport, no problem. He gets pulled every time for the “special search”. And he’s military, he’s the superintendent for a Native corporation, and that happens to him everywhere we go. So seeing that has definitely given me a different perspective.

I think that that’s the beauty of being Alaskan, that we’re not all the same. In Alaska you can almost be anything you want. If you can do anything, it’s just to remember that we’re all people, and to always be kind. I mean, that’s like the Golden rule. Just respect each other.