We live in a world where the well-being of children is shaped by where they live and the color of their skin. The foundation of our country is rooted in racism. Our institutions were built to create a society that perpetuates inequities and marginalizes Black, Indigenous, Latinx and people of color.

Racism is embedded in the structures, policies and practices of our organizations, institutions, sectors, and communities, and produces inequities in every aspect of American society, including education. The connection between racism, poor educational outcomes, and poor health outcomes is inextricably linked, and the gaps between those with privilege and those without continue to grow. The time to stand together, and to work together to eradicate systemic racism is now.

ROC the Future’s accepts and endorses the Black Agenda Group’s declaration that “Racism is a Public Health Crisis,” including but not limited to:

  • Race is a social construct with no biological basis.
  • Racism is a system that creates structures of opportunity and assigns value based on the social interpretation of how one looks, that unfairly disadvantages some individuals and communities, while unfairly providing advantages to other individuals and communities, and saps the strength of the whole society through the waste of human resources.
  • Racism causes persistent race discrimination in housing, education, health care, employment, criminal justice, business, and economic mobility.
  • Racial health disparities in the Black Community have existed since racial health data has been collected and analyzed. Racial health disparities in diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and mental health are prevalent and growing.
  • If we are to eradicate this persistent evil, we must see to its structural and institutional roots. And with swift and collective action hold those that govern and that are governed accountable for its elimination. (Dr. Joy DeGruy)

We publicly affirm our commitment to advance systems level approaches that disrupt structural racism and build racial equity, to ensure that children receive what they need to be safe, healthy and successful. We commit to work towards closing disparate gaps by taking the following actions:

  • Publicly assert that racism is a public health crisis affecting our entire society.
  • Commit to embedding the StriveTogether Racial Equity framework in the alliance, beginning with our backbone structure, then extending to our leadership, our workgroups and teams.
  • Support the Rochester Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative’s guiding principles of Building and Supporting Community, Addressing Structural Racism and Addressing Trauma.
  • Work to create an equity and justice-oriented alliance, with staff, and/or other stakeholders identifying specific activities to increase diversity and to incorporate anti-racist principles within leadership, staffing, and contracting.
  • Incorporate educational and professional development efforts to address and dismantle racism, expand understanding of racism, and how racism affects individual and population health and educational outcomes.
  • Provide tools to engage actively and authentically with Black and Brown communities.
  • Advocate for relevant policies that improve health and education in Black and Brown communities, and support local, state, and federal initiatives that advance social and economic justice, while also encouraging individual advocacy to dismantle structural and systematic racism.
  • Build alliances and partnerships with other appropriate organizations that are confronting racism and encourage partners and/or stakeholders to recognize racism as a public health crisis.
  • Allocate adequate financial and human resources to accomplish all selected activities.

“Let us turn first to the evil of racism. There can be no gainsaying of the fact that racism is still alive all over America. … The second evil that I want to deal with is the evil of poverty. Like a monstrous octopus it spreads its nagging prehensile tentacles into cities and hamlets and villages all over our nation. Some 40 million of our brothers and sisters are poverty stricken, unable to gain the basic necessities of life. And so often we allow them to become invisible because our society’s so affluent that we don’t see the poor. Some of them are Mexican Americans. Some of them are Indians. Some are Puerto Ricans. Some are Appalachian whites. The vast majority are Negroes in proportion to their size in the population.”
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community,” 1967

We, ROC the Future backbone staff and the Executive Committee, commit to the above actions, and encourage all Convener organizations to similarly endorse the Black Agenda Group declaration, and commit to taking action to dismantle structural racism once and for all.