“Hate and ignorance have not driven the history of racist ideas in America. Racist policies have driven the history of racist ideas in America.” Dr. Ibram X. Kendi
Anti-racism work has been a longstanding priority of The Children’s Agenda, incorporating it in our highest governing documents and principles (revising mission statement, strategic plan, brand platform and values statements) through our operational practices (annual goal setting, board and staff selection, performance reviews, and messaging), to focusing our research and advocacy work on issues which disproportionately harm children of color. One of the five organizational goals for 2020 is to, “Demonstrably weave greater racial equity into all of our work by partnering with more leaders of color and adopting anti-racist strategies in our Board, staff, parent and community engagement, advocacy campaigns, coalitions and partnerships.”
The board unanimously voted to adopt the BAG statement on 6/11 and discussed our ongoing action commitments to address issues that disproportionately harm Black and brown children and families, including eliminating armed police officers from City schools and strengthening restorative practices, addressing shortages in child care, early intervention and preschool special education services, etc. Following our board’s decision, TCA issued a statement endorsing the BAG declaration from our CEO Larry Marx, explaining why it is especially relevant to our mission to improve the health, education and success of children, “especially those most vulnerable due to poverty, racism, health inequities and trauma.”
In order to support our commitment to the BAG declaration, we have issued anti-racism statements of our own on our website and in social media: Justice for Daniel Prude, Happy Juneteeth, Stand Against Racism, and The Importance of Using Words Ending in –ism and -ist. TCA also works on many policy issues that advance racial equity. Together with RCSD parents, we are advocating for changes to the RCSD budget that have always centered on equity issues, including expanding restorative practices to reduce suspensions disproportionately targeting youth of color, strengthening English language learner programs, and focusing on inequities between RCSD and surrounding school districts. We are also advocating for and supporting the City of Rochester in establishing racial equity impact assessments as part of their annual budget.
33% of TCA’s board and 29% of our current staff (not including ROC the Future) are people of color. TCA was part of the founding, first cohort of organizations participating in the Racial Equity and Justice Initiative, led by St. Joseph’s Neighborhood Center. Before that, TCA had been an active participant in Facing Race Embracing Equity public meetings, the YWCA’s Stand Against Racism, and the Person 2 Person anti-racism initiatives. Our board and staff have engaged in anti-racism discussions over the past 5 years, most intensively at the staff level, where we each read and discussed Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s book Stamped From the Beginning, various other articles, and attended workshops and events. These meetings, training sessions, readings and discussions promote awareness, but we know that awareness alone is not enough to be an anti-racist organization. TCA advances race-equity internally and externally by walking the talk as best we can, with an eye toward continuous improvement.