At Friends of the Children–New York, we believe all racial and cultural groups are equal. To fight social injustice and demand equity in a nation of systemic racism, we feel it is not enough to be non-racist, which facilitates inaction. It is our responsibility to be an actively anti-racist organization, and we are dedicated to continuing the fight to combat racism in our society, starting with the Black and Latinx communities we serve every day. To hold ourselves accountable, to make black lives matter a movement and not a moment, we have created the following framework in our commitment to dismantling racism.
Challenge the Narrative: We must challenge the negative stereotypes faced by people of color. Historic biases are detrimental to change, as they inform the policies and systems we create, and define how we allocate resources. As a first step, we seek to amplify the voices of our youth, families and community, and empower them to share their stories. Black and Latinx communities have a rich heritage grounded in creativity, love, kinship and strength. We will share these stories with you, along with our insights on the root cause obstacles that impede these communities from reaching their full potential. We encourage you to re-share these stories with your networks.
Advocacy and Policy Education: Racism is deeply embedded in the social fabric of our country, and as a society, silence is no longer an option. We must acknowledge that we have been shaped by culture and policies built on inequality, and we must work to understand institutional racism by engaging in open dialogues that question our own self-interest in biases. We can then translate these learnings into actions. We hope you will join in the fight by advocating for equitable policies in your organizations, communities, and in your daily lives, and by voting with an anti-racist lens on issues that affect Black and Latinx people. Change starts locally!
System Change: We must work with and hold systems accountable as they improve their approach to working with communities of color, and move away from a purely punitive methodology. Friends have a long-standing partnership with the Department of Education, and more recently, with the criminal justice and foster care systems. These systems have historically failed communities of color, and while they acknowledge their shortcomings when serving Black and Latinx communities, there is still significant work to do. All of the children and families with our program have been negatively impacted by one or more of these systems. As we continue to evolve and grow as an organization, we strive to incorporate professional mentorship into the continuum of preventive services offered by these systems to liberate Black and Latinx people.
Mobilize Resources: We will continue to advocate for equitable resources and opportunities for the Black and Latinx communities we serve. Our youth and families are consistently charged with navigating various institutions that have historically had cultures, ideologies, and policies that disadvantage people of color. We recognize that it takes a village to raise a child—partnership is key. By partnering with our families, we are able to provide them with the community resources and support they needed to thrive, including everything from housing and job readiness to legal support and mental health services. We are also able to address and mitigate the short- and long-term effects of system involvement, breach the academic achievement gap witnessed in the education system, and empower them to be more civically engaged and to self-advocate for change. We are committed to maximizing our relationships and are openly seeking collaborations with new organizations, so that we may continue the important work of supporting the advancement of people of color in our community.