Heart Day 2015

Diversity & Undoing Institutionalized Racism

Children's Alliance statement on diversity

The Children's Alliance recognizes and honors diversity in race, ethnicity, culture, age, abilities, gender, sexual orientation, and places where people live. We seek to reflect this diversity in all aspects of our work, including the composition of our membership, board, and committees, staff and volunteers. Further, the Children's Alliance seeks to be a multicultural and culturally competent organization that works for equity among all people.

We are particularly concerned with the impact of poverty on children. Because children of color are disproportionately affected by poverty, as well as racism, we feel a special obligation to organize and speak out on their behalf.

To effectively meet kids’ needs, programs that serve kids and families must be culturally competent. Kids and their parents should not have to struggle through barriers such as language and culturally biased values or expectations to get the services and supports they need.

Children’s Alliance Statement on Undoing Institutional Racism

The Children’s Alliance Board of Directors approved an organizational undoing institutional racism policy on May 19, 2006. This statement was updated in October 2008.

We recognize that a commitment to becoming a multicultural, inclusive and anti-racist organization is the not the same as actually becoming one.

Undoing institutional racism is a term that describes our work to reverse the damaging impacts of racism – in our society, within ourselves, and within our organization.

The mission of the Children’s Alliance is “to improve the well-being of children by effecting positive changes in public policies, priorities, and programs.” Our vision “is that all of Washington’s children will have what they need to grow up to come the people they dream of becoming.”

The impact of poverty on children is of particular concern to the Children’s Alliance. “Because children of color are disproportionately affected by poverty,” the Alliance has previously declared in its diversity statement, the Alliance believes it has a “special obligation” to organize and advocate for them.

But the Children’s Alliance will never meet this special obligation, and will never fulfill its vision of ensuring that “all of Washington’s children” have what they need, unless it first becomes a multicultural, inclusive, and anti-racist organization. To meet this significant challenge, the Children’s Alliance must fully embrace the task of undoing institutional racism. Before explaining why, we first define our terms. By “racism,” we mean the systematic subordination of members of target racial groups with little social power by another racial group that has such power. By “institutional racism,” we mean racism that is systematically structured and legitimized by the dominant racial group to confer legally sanctioned power and privilege on members of the dominant group.

Undoing institutional racism is absolutely central to the work of the Children’s Alliance. To say, as we have said before, that children of color are disproportionately affected by poverty, is to beg the question why that is the case. And to say that children of color are disproportionately affected by poverty is to admit that white children are disproportionately unaffected by poverty. But to admit this is to recognize that white children receive a disproportionate share of the benefits, advantages and (ultimately) power precisely because of their perceived race. This systematic, legal, and often unconscious grant of privileges and power to people who are “white” is institutional racism.

We must understand and eliminate the impacts of institutional racism within our own organization and on the people charged with carrying out its mission. We must ensure that prejudices and stereotypes do not creep insidiously into the work that we do and the structures that allow us to do it. For example, we must take great care to ensure that our beliefs about those who are most adversely affected by poverty are firmly grounded in objective facts and not based on paternalism, stereotypes, or other prejudices, conscious or otherwise.

Having confirmed this commitment, we are now implementing these objectives in all aspects of our work. Grounded in our strengths and in our day to day work we are integrating the lens of racial justice and institutional racism into day-to-day decision making.

We will know that we have achieved our goal of becoming a multicultural, inclusive, and anti-racist organization when all concerned – our board, staff, volunteers, organizational and individual members, and friends and stakeholders in the community – wholeheartedly believe that the Children’s Alliance has become an organization that:

  • Values diversity as an asset instead of simply “tolerating” or “managing” it
  • Reflects the contributions and interests of diverse racial, cultural and economic groups in determining its mission, policies, and practices
  • Fosters full participation by these diverse groups in decisions that shape the Alliance
  • Has a sense of community and mutual caring
  • Is committed to confronting and dismantling racism within the organization and the broader community
  • Allies with others in combating other forms of social oppression

We believe that success in this endeavor is critical to the future work of the Children’s Alliance. Without it, we simply will be unable to fulfill our mission and achieve our vision.

This is a work in progress. We invite the input and advice of all, and we ask every person who reads this policy statement for help in transforming the Children’s Alliance into the organization that all of Washington’s children need and deserve.