Black Lives Matter.
That could be the one and only thing that we wrote to you today and it would fully capture what we want to convey. But we would like to say a bit more about why we, as leaders of Children’s Alliance, recommit ourselves and the organization to the valuing of Black bodies and Black lives.
Our mission to protect childhood and secure opportunity for every child in Washington will only succeed if we unapologetically, actively, and effectively fight to end racism. We cannot be successful at fighting racism until we are successful at fighting anti-Blackness.
Anti-Blackness is both overt racism and the covert structural and systemic racism held in place by anti-Black policies, institutions, and ideologies. Anti-Blackness voids Blackness of value, while systematically marginalizing Black people and their issues.
As we have seen time after time, anti-Blackness manifests in the killing of Black people, including children. We say the names of the children violently taken from us in the name of public safety: Trayvon Martin. Michael Brown. Tamir Rice. We grieve for the Black children whose parents have been killed.
And, as child advocates, we must make ourselves understand that anti-Blackness endangers the lives of Black children each and every day. In every child-serving system, we are failing Black children and their families. We have built systems around the racialization of poverty creating disparities in health, housing, hunger, and economic well-being. Black children are over-disciplined and underserved in our education systems, from preschool to high school. We have developed a collective tolerance for the array of public policies and expenditures that routinely fail Black children.
This death of opportunity must surely also count as anti-Black violence and should be just as avoidable as the killings we protest.
The positive change we pursue in our advocacy can take a long time to realize. We are united with those in the streets in the past week who were there to lift up the humanity of Black people. We hear the sorrow and rage prompted by the collective understanding that, for many of us and those we love, change comes too late.
We know better. We must do better. We must fight anti-Blackness in the work to put public policy on the side of kids, and within our own child advocacy community and within Children’s Alliance.
We are grateful to the Black members of our communities and our Black staff and volunteers for leading the way. We pledge to listen. We pledge to fight. We know that actions mean more than words. Hold us accountable.
We end this message where it began: Black Lives Matter.
For our children,
p.s. We humbly offer the following resources for learning more about anti-racism and anti-Blackness, as well as quantitative data about Black children and families in Washington.
Stamped from the Beginning: the Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America
How to be an Anti-Racist
So You Want to Talk About Race
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir