|We are in mourning at The Family Tree today, not only over the senseless death of George Floyd, whose family and community held a memorial service in Minneapolis yesterday. We are in mourning over all of the injustices facing families and communities of color every day, families who have grown tired and weary of the ways that systemic racism continues to traumatize our children and tear at the very fabric of society. While the latest string of atrocities getting attention in the media have brought this issue to the forefront, the sad reality is that for many of the parents we serve, along with our very own staff, the harmful effects of bias and racial injustice in our institutions is nothing new. |
For decades, I’ve seen a disproportionate over-representation of children of color in child welfare, juvenile justice and special education systems. But, disparity persists well before children arrive at school. Black women die twice the rate of other moms during pregnancy and childbirth; and twice as many black babies die before their first birthday compared to white newborns. We now understand that toxic stress (caused by sustained, frightening, and threatening situations) plays a role in undermining children’s behavioral, cognitive capacity, and emotional and physical health. Black children, along with being economically disadvantaged, face greater adversity than their white peers. These are the same children who also have less access to resources that can mitigate their stress to a tolerable level.
While it pains me to say it, individual and structural racism plays a huge role and negatively impacts the families we serve at The Family Tree. This profound impact of racism on families and our staff demands our full response — we must challenge our own biases, identify research-based strategies and effectively advocate for policy solutions. Exactly one year ago today, Family Tree staff participated in an “Undoing Racism” training which highlighted the history of racism and the conscious and unconscious biases that lie within individuals and America as a whole. It was this training that led The Family Tree to understand more deeply that something must change. The recent events of George Floyd’s murder, the false accusations of Amy Cooper, the death of Eric Garner, Philando Castile, and many others who did not make front page news, has highlighted the fact that things must change now.
At the Family Tree, we plan to continue supporting families, especially during these times where racial injustices are highlighted every day. How do we plan to do that? We will continue to lend our voice on policies that affect marginalized groups and families. We will speak out in face of injustice and racism; we will not remain silent. On our social media outlets, we will provide resources that help families deal with the emotional trauma of racism. We will provide tips for talking to young children about protest and riots, educating families on the importance of empowerment and standing up for what you believe in. Together, we can raise all families up.
Patricia K. Cronin, LCSW-C