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Black Lives Matter: A Message to Members

Tuesday, 09 June 2020 15:31

George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and a very long list of people killed by police and white supremacists, are Black, not unlike many of the young people participating in out-of-school time programs and the staff who work with them across the country. The compounding deaths of so many Black Americans, leading up to the death of Mr. George Floyd, must redefine how we as practitioners and leaders in this work see and feel justice and equity.

The work of youth development programs is historically rooted in equity—whether providing affordable childcare support to working families and/or academic interventions and enrichment opportunities to youth negatively affected by the achievement gap. Physical and emotional safety is a foundational prerequisite to relationships, youth engagement, and learning, so working to end racial violence and systemic inequity is integral to positive youth development.

Youth development work began as—and continues to be—a tool of equity. We commit to approaching our work through an equity lens, identifying where our work intersects with broader education, health and opportunity equity strategies. Otherwise, we (un)intentionally perpetuate systemic inequities rooted in institutionalized racism.

NAA stands in solidarity with Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) and all people and communities who oppose racist policies and social injustices. We will listen to BIPOC members who work with and on behalf of children and youth in diverse and community-based settings to determine where our support is most valuable. We will use our communications channels to amplify the voices of BIPOC. We will act with more awareness and deliberate anti-racist efforts to create equitable systems.

Systemic and organizational change starts with each one of us. You can expect more from NAA than just the words in this statement. We are ready to listen with curiosity and humility, to learn, to reflect, and to act. We are starting with discussions about immediate actions we can take to fulfill these commitments and will explore opportunities to put these words into action in thoughtful, sustainable, and systemic ways.

This work is hard. It is not comfortable, but it is required. We must do better, we can do better, we commit to doing better.