We cannot advance the health and well-being of kids and their communities — our mission — if we do not address systemic racism and White supremacy culture.
This work starts within our agency. We understand that it is possible to do harm unintentionally, even when we believe we are doing good. Further, we understand that although our work has always aimed to further equity, we have also been complicit in systemic racism by, for example: failing to examine how the structure of our initiatives can privilege White voices and interests, failing to consistently and explicitly name policies and systems as racist when they have disparate impacts, and failing to challenge inequities in how nonprofits are funded.
We want to do better. In our statement issued on June 6, 2020, we committed to doing so in at least 4 ways. In this, our second statement, we describe how we are following through on this commitment. We are preparing additional updates which will explore the many ways we are taking action in yet more detail.
The urgency and impact of racial injustice in our work demands both immediate action and lasting efforts. We are therefore making a durable commitment to this work by evaluating and updating the guiding documents, including: Employee Handbook, Finance Manual, Strategic Plan and others to include specific policies, methods and goals for building an anti-racist agency culture and improving racial equity within our agency and through our initiatives.
This is not a one time commitment; it includes annually defining the tactics, milestones and frequency for strategies outlined below. We will complete the first round of this process by year end, 2020.
Learn: Increase staff and board knowledge and skills, and build an anti-racist agency culture committed to advancing racial equity.
Assess: Conduct self-assessments and accountable evaluations to understand, monitor and adapt our efforts at advancing racial equity.
Action: Identify short- and long-term actions for us as an organization, and in our initiatives which:
Although some of this work will take months to complete, and nearly all of it will be ongoing, we have already begun to take action. Here are a few highlights about those efforts, which we’ll expand upon in forthcoming articles.
Photos: A grocery worker talks with Jane Philbrook, Kansas City, Kansas Commissioner; Maxine Drew, board president of Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools meets with students from her district; Marquita Williams, an early education professional, encourages children to use their gross motor skills; Jamesha Price, a former teacher at M.E Pearson, shows children how to plant seeds at Splitlog Farm and Orchard.
KC Healthy Kids shares the sadness, frustration and outrage expressed by protesters over the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis Police custody, as well as other Black people who have met similar fates throughout the nation, including in our community. These events are not isolated; they are part of four centuries of violent and systemic racism in our nation. We stand with civil rights leaders in calling for significant reforms needed to achieve racial, economic and health equity.
We know that words of sympathy and solidarity are meaningless without concrete action. In order to confront and dismantle pervasive racism, we must adapt and grow, as an agency and as individuals.
We are looking at all of the ways we operate our agency, our programs and our policy efforts. Each member of our staff is being encouraged to give input based on their unique roles and perspectives. Then we’ll take time to thoughtfully evaluate what is needed in our organization and what we are well-positioned to contribute amidst the current crises and going forward.
In the following week, we’ll post an article detailing ways in which we are taking action to match our words, and will identify actions our partners and supporters can take as well.
Here is our commitment: We will…
…Seek out and listen to the advice, perspectives and leadership of people of color and ensure effectiveness and accountability as we continue critical self-assessment.
…Continue to foster a culture where staff can respectfully discuss racial equity and hold each other accountable, while recognizing it’s not the job of team members who are Black or People of Color to teach White peers how to be better.
…We’ve always fought against policies that create health and economic disparities. Now we’ll explicitly identify them as racist.
…Encourage our partners and supporters to make a similar commitment. We say to you: your progress and growth is essential to our collective ability to advance equity. Let’s make this a part of every project we enter into together.
We are working to be better. For those who want to do the same, here are some excellent resources:
As 2019 comes to a close, we want to say thank you for giving your time, lending your voice and donating to KC Healthy Kids. Your investment makes a lasting difference in the lives of children and families across the bi-state region.