The Race Conversation Is Not Over
“Daddy changed the world,” exclaimed Giana, the 6-year-old daughter of George Floyd, in a viral video responding to the international condemnation of police brutality against Black Americans. As inspiring as her courage and pride may be, the deep pain lingers, as does the urgency spurring meaningful change.
On Sunday, Jacob Blake, an unarmed Black Wisconsin man, was shot seven times in the back as he opened his car door, sparking renewed protests and a federal civil rights investigation. The national conversation and need for change are far from over.
PCCY has been listening to and acting on the concerns voiced by teens of color for years. We are just wrapping up two years of work to address the racial divide in healthcare by offering Black and Brown teens access to reproductive health resources. We listened to these teens decry the lack of information they have and helped them learn the choices they have to navigate the stressors and flood of emotions that come with growing up.
And, we carry on.
Weeks after Mr. Floyd’s murder we asked teens across the region to talk with us about race. We listened to their raw, wrenching, and compelling experiences in our Facebook Live discussion of race and racism. So too, did U.S. Senator Bob Casey, three members of congress and 21 state and county elected officials.
The young people pleaded for all of us do much more than attend protests and give speeches; they demanded that we change the narrative on race and end systemic racism so that their younger siblings, neighbors and friends could live in a world where they are not judged by the color of their skin or murdered because of it, but celebrated for the content of their character. And we are taking their plea seriously.
Now, we are working side-by-side with school districts and regional organizations that support schools in Montgomery County to help them craft Diversity, Inclusion, Race, and Equity Policies. Partners in Bucks County have asked us to serve on a committee to promote racial equity and social justice, using our expertise to ensure that township policies increase the opportunity to improve all lives.
Our recent testimony about the impact of chronically underfunding schools particularly on communities of color before the Pennsylvania Senate called out the fact that the pandemic-driven shift to online instruction left minority and poor students without computers or Internet access, further compromising their access to high quality education. And we demanded that they do better.
In Philadelphia, where Black and Brown boys are placed at unacceptably high levels in secure detention or as a function of foster care, are sent to institutions rather than options of living with families, PCCY rallied our allies and together we gained the support of the City Council’s Children and Youth Committee for the reforms needed to end what is clearly a racially biased system harming the life chances of children of color.
The Black Lives Matter movement and George Floyd’s murder showed us all that traditional news outlets over report negative imagery, and still invest too little in reporting the news in communities of color. PCCY is launching a media partnership with ACLAMO and The Urban League to report the news that is important to the Black and Brown families in Norristown and Pottstown. This exciting endeavor will be made possible thanks to the support of Independence Media Philadelphia.
While America is still coming to grips with its racist history and its deferred promise of liberty and justice for all, PCCY has continued the work of explicitly addressing racial inequities on a myriad of issues head on.
Our work continues because of our commitment to racial justice and equity and your unwavering support. As we celebrate the 57th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s March on Washington and his iconic “I Have A Dream” speech, we are cognizant of how far we have come and how far we have to go to live in the America of which he dreamed.
Black lives matter.