The Next Black Child

“The next Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, et. al., is currently in childcare in South Carolina. He is more likely to be expelled, suspended and/or even suspected simply because of the color of his skin. ICS’s work is, in itself, a form of being an ally. However, if we truly want to be anti-racist, actively working to remove (not simply raise the flag on) implicit bias by caretakers, institutions and other organizations purportedly taking care of children, is the next step in the evolution.” 

~John Young Shik Concklin, ICS Palmetto Associate

For the past ten years, ICS has purposed – as a research and applied policy early childhood organization – to ensure the success of all young children. As we asserted in a statement released in early June, our mission is one inherently rooted in equity. When we recall the expected response to the Masai tribe greeting “And how are the children?,” we are reminded that there is still work to be done if we cannot answer that “all the children are well.” In the midst of a global pandemic, rising unemployment and economic instability, it is ongoing racial injustice that has propelled the civil unrest we have all witnessed over the past few weeks. The painful and frustrating reality is that all the children are not well. In too many instances, Black children are not well. The next Black child to die due to the color of their skin could easily be one of the children whom we at ICS are committed to serving and advocating on behalf of today.

What now? Do we truly know what life is like on-the-ground for Black children during this very moment in history? How do we maintain integrity to our mission? How can we recommit to ensuring that Black children, too, are safe, nurtured and loved?

Last month I spent a weekend reaching out to my network to hear directly from the parents and guardians of Black children and to begin the process of recording real-time experiences in a way that could inform how ICS goes about achieving our mission, especially in light of a massive civil uprising against systemic racism that has been 400+ years in the making. Here is what we learned:

  • Parents and guardians of Black children are increasingly concerned. Ninety-one percent of respondents indicated that recent events make them feel more worried about their child’s future.
  • When thinking about how society may view their child’s race and/or skin color, parents and guardians of Black children expressed anger, fear and frustration. The word cloud below summarizes their responses:
  • Black children and their caregivers are burdened.
  • Caregivers are dealing with their own racial trauma while also raising children.
  • The impacts of Adverse Childhood Experiences in the current environment are very real.

Are you a caregiver to a Black child? Do you know people who are? I encourage you to participate as ICS collects additional stories from a broader audience. Our Racial Injustice and Black Children survey will close out next week Friday, July 17. ICS will use these stories to inform and educate the general public and our mission-based work. We will reach out to local representatives and policymakers to share constituent stories and encourage policies that better serve Black children and their families.

Lived experience is a powerful form of expertise. ICS is not only committed to amplifying Black voices and learning from the Black community’s expertise, but also to passing the microphone and actively listening.

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