If you have not read our statement on our commitment to creating a culture of anti-racism within our work through mental health and youth-serving systems, please take a look and join us in this space.
Over the last week, I have done a lot of self-reflecting, as I see the barrage of news stories concerning the protests around America. The disparity in the justice system is ever present, held from every end of the spectrum from the police force to the courts and prisons. As supporters show up on the streets to make their voices heard over the tragic killing of George Floyd and so many before him, many are sitting at home wondering what can be done.
I have been investing in and committing to finding ways to be an ally. My first call to action is to keep my ears and heart open. Listen to new perspectives and question my position in a society of systems that are designed for white people, like me. For example, many of us are challenging ‘broken systems,’ but Lizzo says, “The system is not broken, it works just fine, it just works for white people, so maybe we need to actually break it.” I find myself exploring, trying my best to listen in the cacophony that is the media and social media right now. So, I want to talk about allyship, from the perspective of a white gay male as I examine intersections of bias and try to be a supportive voice to end violence and disparity for Black people.
I am making a commitment to anti-racism through calling it out where I see it, whether it be in my own social feeds or sharing what is happening across the nation at the moment. I am educating myself by reading (currently, White Fragility: ) and talking to my daughter about equality and how people of color are not always treated the same. Examining my own discomfort in this time and finding space and time to share and also step back is important. I know I won’t always get it right, but silence is not an option when it comes to creating equitable experiences for disenfranchised groups.
I saw a post the other day that I believe can help start this conversation:
** Some are posting on social media
** Some are protesting in the streets
** Some are donating silently
** Some are educating themselves
** Some are having tough conversations with friends & family
A revolution has many lanes — be kind to yourself and to others who are traveling in the same direction — just keep your foot on the gas.
Many of you reading this are likely connected with the System of Care in some way, or through organizations that work with youth. At Youth MOVE, we are committed to examining the issue or racism within mental health, juvenile justice, foster care, and other systems that we know have a deep-rooted form of racism that each affects youth in unique ways.
As we find ways to protest unjust systems through on-the-ground activism, social media, and supporting organizations doing the difficult work, we must find ways to change policy, practice, and culture that are racist. We are individuals who care about social equality, so we must first educate ourselves, find space to ally with Black voices, and then advocate for a deep and dramatic change in our systems on local and national levels.
In order to be an ally, one must first admit and acknowledge the existence and pervasiveness of racism in our society. For a simplistic overview of systemic racism that may be helpful to share with those who may be trying to understand how it can look.
We must step up and use our voices, our privilege, and our platform to change culture and systems that are unjust and that work against people of color.
Part 2 of this blog can be found here