We at the Child and Family Policy Center have been working through feelings of sadness, anger and frustration over the last week watching the violence and pain convulsing our communities. It’s a fire lit by the murder of George Floyd, built out of racism rooted in our nation’s earliest days and still alive today. We stand with our black neighbors, colleagues and friends.
Black lives matter. Black children and families matter. Their dreams matter. Their futures matter.
The Center often advocates on policy issues that do not directly or solely affect children because children are integrally connected to their larger communities. A community can’t thrive when some of its members are harassed and disproportionately killed by law enforcement and systemically deprived of opportunity by our health, educational, human service and justice systems. Black children can’t thrive when they are treated as less than fully human.
At the Center, we pledge to listen to and learn from our partners in communities around our state. We will work to not just be not racist, but, to borrow from the work of author and scholar Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, to be anti-racist: to actively advance concrete policies and practices to dismantle the persistent inequities experienced by Black Iowans — and by Latinx, Asian, Native and other marginalized communities with their own histories and traditions but having faced similar oppression.
We ask our elected officials to do the same. State legislators returned to Des Moines this week to finish the legislative session they paused in March due to Covid-19. We call on them to be anti-racists, to act starting now to tear down the structural barriers to opportunity codified in our laws and made real in our budgets. Yes, time is short and the budget is tight. But Iowans of color have waited too long already. They cannot, and ought not have to, wait any longer to see meaningful and equitable change.
— Staff of the Child and Family Policy Center
Tywana Butts Angelica Cardenas Michael Crawford Anne Discher Stephen Dykstra Sheila Hansen Tricia Lyman Mary Nelle Trefz
Keep learning, keep talking. Staff at the Center humbly share a few things we've found helping and challenging this week.
More from Dr. Ibram X. Kendi. The book we reference above — How to be an Anti-Racist — is out of stock at most sellers right now (a good sign?). But his June 1 piece in The Atlantic, "The American Nightmare," lays bare the ways society has systematically oppressed a group of Americans deemed unworthy of the American Dream. You can also listen to Vox's "Today Explained" podcast where Dr. Kendi talks about his Atlantic piece and why it's not enough to admit when you're racist.
"It's on all of us," the May 29 Storm Lake Times editorial by Art Cullen. He writes, "When all people are created equal, it becomes necessary to suggest that some people are not people, in order that privilege maintains its place for some people."