We join leaders and communities across the country in pain, outrage, and anguish as we condemn both systemic and personal racism and the social injustice that is deeply rooted in our society. We stand in solidarity with Black and Brown communities to demand that we recognize and end this terrible plague.
It is shameful that we as a society needed to witness the murder of George Floyd – after so many others have been devalued, oppressed, beaten, and tragically murdered for generations – in order to stand up and finally recognize that this must stop. Let this not be another brief moment of outrage, but an opportunity for a true turning point, where together we recognize that each of us must act to change the systemic oppression that has plagued the Black and Brown members of our nation.
We have all seen the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the Black community. There is a long list of existing disparities directly contributing to this inequity – among them chronic disease, poor health care, overcrowded housing, and exposure on the front lines. Racism must be added to this list, and in fact, may underlie many of the other causes. Racism is trauma. Research about trauma and adversity (adverse childhood experiences or ACEs) in young children has shown the impact on the developing metabolic systems of the infant and young child, leading to chronic, lifelong diseases, like diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and obesity. This imposed – not innate – biologic vulnerability may be significantly contributing to disproportionate death in our Black communities from COVID-19.
Healing the effects of trauma and adversity is at the core of the work of Child First. Racism, social injustice, and health inequities are toxic to both the mind and body of the developing child. Our Child First affiliates serve very young children and families who have experienced significant adversity. Helping to build nurturing, responsive, caregiver-child relationships provides an opportunity to heal trauma and build resilience in those who have been oppressed. These relationships can also build compassion and empathy, helping to counteract early racism in the those who might otherwise learn to be oppressors. It is our obligation to begin to change the narrative for our youngest children.
This is a huge opportunity for change: reflecting, healing, reimagining, and rebuilding. Child First commits to dedicating our National Program Office and our community-based teams to this work. We will self-examine all our NPO functions with a diversity and equity lens: We will intensify our efforts to hire staff of color in leadership positions; bring training on equity, diversity, and social justice to the forefront; insure that a diversity and equity lens is integrated throughout all our consultation, supervision, and training; provide in-depth analysis of our data to see where and how our intervention can be more impactful for families of color; and advocate for change at all levels.
We will continue our dedicated work to address social injustice, health disparities, and educational inequities. We will listen closely and with humility. We will call out by name the ugly scourge at the core of these disparities: racism. To stop it, we must take responsibility and recognize, acknowledge, reflect, and own it, individually, within our organization, and within the systems of our society. We will face this toxin head on and act with intension and commitment. This is our pledge.
Darcy Lowell, MD
Founder and CEO
When young children grow up in environments where there is violence, neglect, mental illness, or substance abuse, the stress can be toxic to their developing brains. But, we can intervene to prevent this damage. Scientific research demonstrates that we can make a difference if we: