This piece is part of a series of blogs we will be publishing in the coming weeks written by CASA staff and volunteers on the importance of racial justice, equity, and inclusion. The goal of this series is to highlight the importance of equity, inclusion, and anti-racism education so that we can truly honor the best interests of every child CASA serves.
Here's a bit about the author of the following piece, Anitra Edwards:
Anitra Edwards is a Program Manager at CASA of Travis County. In her current role, Anitra supervises the TAPP (Teen Advocacy Permanency Project) team which primarily works with youth who face additional barriers of finding permanency and/or are more likely to age out of the foster care system. Anitra has been with CASA for almost two years and was previously a Teen Advocacy Specialist. Anitra is an Austin native, and prior to working with CASA, she worked for a non-profit advocating for survivors of domestic violence.
Why We Need You to See Color by Anitra Edwards
I need you to see color, and so do the kids I serve.
Often, when talking about race, people will say they “don’t see color” as a way of demonstrating that they aren’t racist.
That initial response isn’t actually helpful and it’s simply not true. We all see color. When we meet someone, the first physical attribute we often notice is the color of their skin.
"The important thing to remember when doing social justice work is that seeing someone’s skin color doesn’t make you racist—it makes you human. It’s what you do when you notice the color of someone’s skin that matters."
The important thing to remember when doing social justice work is that seeing someone’s skin color doesn’t make you racist—it makes you human. It’s what you do when you notice the color of someone’s skin that matters.
We (people of color, and myself, a Black person) need you to see color to see who we fully are—to see our humanity. Despite what we have been conditioned to believe, seeing this is not a bad thing. We need you to see color because it shapes our experiences and it affects the way we walk through the world.
We need you to see color because we live in a world with systems in place that are led by people who see color. The criminal justice system definitely sees color. This is why research consistently shows that people of color are more likely to be incarcerated. According to a report to the United Nations on racial disparities in the U.S. Criminal Justice System and statistics gathered from the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Program, “in 2016, Black Americans comprised 27% of all individuals arrested in the United States—double their share of the total population.”
"The people that operate the child welfare system—judges, attorneys, social workers, all see color. That’s why we need you to see it, too."
The child welfare system sees color. This is clear from how many children of color are disproportionately represented in it. The people that operate the child welfare system—judges, attorneys, social workers, all see color. The children that we advocate for, and our own children of color, are part of these systems that all see color. That’s why we need you to see it, too.
We need our volunteers and staff at CASA of Travis County to see color so that they can be sure they’re advocating effectively for the children we serve. We need to be able to recognize when a parent may be treated unfairly because of their skin color, or when a child may have fewer resources or placement options because of the color of their skin. The children we serve have a right to an education, and we need to be able to see how and why educational systems disproportionally suspend children of color, particularly young black girls.
These experiences are real.
"We need you to see inequality. We need you to call it out. We need you to combat it."
We need you to see inequality. We need you to call it out. We need you to combat it.
According to the Texas DFPS, 3,658 African American children were removed from their homes last year. This is 20% of all children removed, even though African American children only represent 11% of the population. We know the additional barriers they will face while being in foster care.
They need you to see color because the world does.
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Advocacy Staff 2020 Culture & Diversity