There have been times when I am struck by the number of coworkers who are under even more stress than usual. Obviously, the coronavirus pandemic has made that 100% of us. But we all know it has affected people differently. It has had a disparate impact. There has been a lot reported recently about the institutional and systematic racism that has contributed to a devastating death rate from coronavirus among African American and Latinos, in particular.
On top of this pandemic, we have the continued nightmare of the killing of African Americans. This also has a disparate impact. There are coworkers who are hurting beyond what many could imagine.
At ProKids, we are compelled to look at ourselves and beyond ourselves. We must learn about the world around us and identify and create solutions. In this work, we are going to witness ugly things about ourselves, others, organizations, systems, and communities we are a part of. Things that make us feel uncomfortable, unsettled, and hurt. These ugly things have been inflicting pain and it is time we deal with the discomfort and bring them into the light so they can be acknowledged, examined, and changed. Some of the best, most persistent, learning occurs when we feel uncomfortable.
We all have the power to evolve and become even more effective advocates. In our work to ensure a safe, permanent, and nurturing home for every child, we must think about “home” beyond four walls. What does it mean to belong? To feel safe? To have your needs met? To be able to thrive? Racism, discrimination, oppression, and injustice are threats to our children and we must commit to a sustained fight to eliminate them, just as we would with any other risk to the children we serve.
On a personal level, many of our team members are suffering deeply. I have a lot to learn and need to make sure I am doing all I can not to learn at someone else’s expense. My learning is my responsibility. It is a gift when someone generously chooses to share their lived experiences and wisdom with me. While some want to rush forward to comfort those in greater pain, we must create space for those most affected to lead the way and have the choice to, or not to, interact.
Two of the several people who have generously taught me are Allison and Dan, whose insightful pieces are shared through these links. Quatez Scott, a former ProKids child, has also provided me important insights for a long time. He recently posted this piece on his blog. I am thankful to them all and hope you join me in aspiring to be better and finding actions to do so.