Anti-racist Statement from the Board of Trustees
Author Beverly Tatum describes racism as a moving walkway, like those you might see at a large airport terminal. As Tatum explains, we were not there when the walkway was built, and if we do nothing the walkway will continue to move with us on it. Only if we actively work to do something different will we step off the walkway. Anti-racism is the act of getting off the walkway, and eventually, stopping the walkway and redirecting its operation. To simply not be a racist is not enough to change hundreds of years of systems and practices that actively disadvantage people of color.
At Crossnore, we are identifying actions we need to take to “get off the walkway” and improve the lives of the children we serve. An early important step is listening to our Black and Brown children’s lived experiences with new intention. The first step in healing from any trauma is to give it daylight in a safe place. Racism is trauma, and if we do not acknowledge it as our children have lived it, we cannot help them heal from that trauma.
Influencing External Systems to Become Anti-Racist
We are also cognizant of the external systems with which our children engage. Our children come to us most often through child welfare systems, which are linked closely to criminal justice. Child welfare often engages with families as a result of failures in mental health services, addiction care, affordable housing, and education. We know that Black and Brown children are removed from their homes at twice the rate of White children. In schools, we know that Black and Brown children experience different expectations and harsher consequences for behavior similar to their White peers.
While Crossnore is working diligently on its internal practices, our impact upon the children we serve is limited if we cannot also influence the factors that bring them to us in the first place. Externally, Crossnore’s Center for Trauma Resilient Communities works with systems to share what we know about trauma and its impact upon the people we serve.
IDEA Steering Committee
Crossnore has an operating model that provides both the expectation and the tools for us to host open and authentic conversations even, and most especially, when difficult. The systems we are questioning have been in place for centuries and the work to understand and change the behaviors within those systems will be neither quick nor easy. The work to ensure Black and Brown children have what they need to heal and grow when they are with us will also require honest dialogue.
As a result of several staff-led discussions, Crossnore has launched the IDEA Steering Committee, standing for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Anti-racism. This committee, made up of employees from across the organization (including the CEO and a member of the Board), is exploring ways we should improve how we care for our children, each other, and how we engage with external entities, all toward a more inclusive and anti-racist organization and ultimately, community. Importantly, we see this work not as a simple add-on to our daily activities, but rather, as a shift in how we serve – the building of culture and space that values the dignity and the needs of each individual we touch, and an affirmation of our commitment to meeting those needs, even and especially when different from our initial perception. We will be back in touch with you as the recommendations from the IDEA Steering Committee come to life.
Changing of the Guard
As we share this news, our country has lost three Civil Rights giants in a matter of days: the Rev. C. T. Vivian, Congressmen John Lewis, and most recently, Charles Evers (brother of Medgar Evers). One might see this changing of the guard as a torch passing from one generation’s Civil Rights leadership to another, but it also may be that the torch is coming to ALL of us. A 2018 tweet from Congressman Lewis reads:
“Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”
The Best Trouble
The care of our most vulnerable children is assuredly the responsibility of all of us. Using an anti-racism lens to look critically at outcomes data, examining internal practices, and finally, considering the policy implications for the systems that shape our children’s lived experiences – this is all a part of what we believe “good trouble” means for Crossnore. Asking hard questions and addressing perhaps uncomfortable answers can hardly be considered difficult when held against the pain some of our children endure. Improving the lives of our children would be the best trouble we can imagine. Join us.
Board of Trustees
Crossnore School & Children’s Home