Children’s Law Center sees racism, ableism and other forms of oppression show up in our work every day.
Many times the impact can be traced to past discrimination. For example, because foster care licensing regulations require a specific number of bedrooms in a home, Black DC families are often disqualified. Yet, their smaller homes can be traced directly to poverty and historic discriminatory laws like redlining.
Other times the impact is more complicated and involves present-day bias, such as the dramatically higher rates at which students with disabilities and Black students are suspended.
Racism has an impact on almost every facet of our lives – and combatting it will require each of us to act. At Children’s Law Center, our focus is on ways in which racism harms the children and families with whom we work. We commit to working with children, families and our allies to disrupt racism that prevents children from achieving their goals.
Our work starts with ourselves – as individuals and within our organization. Over the last few years, we’ve taken intentional steps forward by:
- Identifying our individual and organizational role in harmful systems and working to check our biases through a combination of learning, listening and reflection.
- Addressing racism, ableism and anti-LGBTQ bias when we see it. For example, when professionals in a special education team meeting treat our 14-year-old Black client as if she were an adult, we help remind them of the age-appropriate attention and support she deserves.
- Filing motions that illustrate ways racism impacts court decisions, such as how the over-criminalization of Black and Brown communities unfairly disqualifies family members from becoming licensed caregivers for children in foster care.
Undoing 400 years of oppression takes collective effort, hard work and many decades.
We know we have just begun to scratch the surface of the ways it has affected DC children and families. As we question our assumptions, learn more about DC’s unique history and work with our allies and families across the District, we will develop new legal strategies and new advocacy goals.
Historically the law has often deepened rather than disrupted racism. Working together, we can turn the law into a powerful tool to address and undo oppression.