We are at a time of reckoning. As Americans take to the streets in record numbers to protest the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many other African Americans, we must reflect on our responsibilities as individuals, organizations, and communities, and commit to redressing racial oppression, injustice, and inequality.
As John Burton Advocates for Youth (JBAY) works to improve the quality of life for California’s foster, former foster, and homeless youth, we deal with the impact of systemic racism every day. Some of that racism is overt, but much of it is the more insidious and systemic legacy of centuries of white supremacy. We witness it in the shockingly disproportionate number of African American youth in foster care or living on the streets. We also see it in the racial disparities in health, education and economic outcomes. Now we are seeing it in the unequal impact of COVID19, shelter-in-place, and their economic consequences.
We know these issues are as old as America, but we do not accept that they are intractable. Decisions we make now can continue and compound these injustices or they can redress inequality and restore justice.
We are listening to the communities most impacted by racism and injustice, and we continue to learn from them. As an organization, we commit to examining our own privilege, practices, and priorities so that we can embed racial equity into all our work. We are also looking outwards to see how we can help our communities now. We believe the economic downturn will have its greatest impact on communities of color and that as a state we can choose to alleviate this impact or to reinforce it. If we do not take action to prioritize marginalized communities, then the inequities we deplore will only deepen.
We believe that at this time, more than ever, our communities and our government need to prioritize the proven pathways to ending injustice and inequality.