As news reports emerge that more than 10,000 people have been arrested across the country during the past two weeks for protesting racial injustices, JCCA vehemently condemns the brutal repression of those fighting for systemic change and for the rights of our Black and Brown citizens to live and breathe. JCCA denounces the over-policing of communities of color that has resulted in demoralizing, dehumanizing damage that is inextricably intertwined with the challenges our clients face.

A few months after the mass shooting at Charleston’s Emanuel A.M.E. Church in June 2015, representatives from programs throughout our agency formed JCCA’s Race Equity Committee, with a mission to examine racism within JCCA, to understand how it impacts our clients, our staff, and ourselves, to develop strategies to address racial inequities, and to advance race consciousness and racial equity within and outside of the JCCA community.

Over the course of 2019, the Race Equity Committee developed a statement to codify our values and our commitment to our clients, our colleagues, and our communities. JCCA’s leadership team and board of trustees worked collaboratively with the committee to ensure that the statement reflects all of our values and goals.  It is posted on our website at jccany.org/who-we-are/race-equity-statement/.

All children and families deserve to lead safe, healthy, and productive lives. However, the history of institutionalized racism in the United States has denied this opportunity to millions. Implicit and explicit policies have created segregated communities, built substandard housing, and underfunded health care, education, and social services that overwhelmingly impact families of color. Biased practices, policies, and decision-making processes have embroiled a disproportionately high number of children and families of color within the child welfare system. This framework perpetuates racial inequities for the clients and staff of institutions like JCCA, and we cannot fulfill our mission to repair the world, child by child, if we do not address the role our organization has played within it.

We must take deliberate, conscious, and collective action to address and rectify the racial inequities embedded throughout our work at JCCA. We commit to using our resources and leadership to promote racial equity across JCCA and advocate for it beyond our doors. We will consciously consider the racial effects of our decisions and strive to actively engage direct stakeholders in decision-making. We will work to ensure that people of color have voice and leadership within the organization. By examining and correcting our practice through the lens of racial equity, we can work to dismantle systemic and institutional barriers to the well-being, stability, and success of our clients, their families, our staff, and our community.

Through trainings, discussions, activities, and examinations of organizational practices that may unintentionally perpetuate implicit bias and racial inequities, our commitment to anti-racism extends from our work with our littlest clients all the way to our Board of Trustees, who have also committed more than $10,000 to the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund to express solidarity with our staff and our clients. We support the repeal of Civil Rights Law 50-A, which shields police from accountability, and will continuously advocate for programs and funding that shore up the strengths and resources of the communities we serve against the systemic inequality wrought by decades of structural racism. We have an obligation and responsibility to use our organization’s power and privilege to do more.

We are grateful for the support of our Trustees, staff, and clients as we navigate this moment of collective trauma and grief.  We must remain steadfast in our commitment to help others — and ourselves — find inner strength and resilience as we build a new path toward equality and justice for all.