/5 June, 2020

Child Welfare and Racial Justice

Dear friends, 

This has been a heartbreaking, infuriating, painful week. We are outraged at the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the violent deaths of so many before them.  We are horrified, too, at the violent police responses to protesters. We share in the feelings we have heard from many of you and from our team, faculty, and fellows: this is a time of grief, of anger, of fear, of reflection, and of action.

We recognize that the recent loss of Black lives is not new but a continuation of 400 years of our racist history. The disproportionate impact of the pandemic on Black families and communities coupled with the recent spate of murders of Black men and women have simply increased the visibility of the deeply racist beliefs and structures in our society that have been present all along. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wrote, “African Americans have been living in a burning building for many years, choking on the smoke as the flames burn closer and closer. Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible – even if you’re choking on it – until you let the sun in. Then you see it’s everywhere.” 

We recognize that we work in a sector whose history and present day reality is grounded in both intentional racial oppression and the no-less-harmful violence of good intentions.  We are part of a field that regularly, disproportionately, and traumatically separates Black children from their parents.  As we embrace our roles as both insiders and outsiders to the child welfare field – as we aspire to be positive disruptors – our work will not be meaningful if it does not result in racial justice or if our path to those results perpetuates harm. We are committed to not merely talking the talk, but to deepening our efforts to listen to Black parents and youth, to shift power structures, and to reduce the over-representation of Black children in our system. 

We are also committed to examining and dismantling racism within ourselves and our own organization – through the values we embrace, the child welfare reform projects we help create, the talent practices we evolve, and the ways in which we will show up and stand up for every single one of our teammates, fellows, and partners with humility and respect. Change is not easy and the path ahead includes pain and discomfort, but we know it cannot wait.

We are grateful to be with you on this journey, 

Sherry and Marie



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