Recent attendance at workshops and trainings focused on racism has provoked profound questions in regards to the work done at MCCOY. How does racism affect the population we serve? How is racism intertwined with child poverty? How effective are our programs and initiatives in regards to addressing the institutionalization of racism?
While some policies are designed to level the playing field, minorities in the US are still at a severe disadvantage and continue to suffer as a result. One way to understand this concept is with the analogy of a Monopoly board: Imagine a group of people decide to play a game of Monopoly but half the group is privileged with a 2 hour head start. Those asked to wait will be much less likely to own property and to have a reserve of money. While a game of Monopoly can simply start over with a clean slate, the reality is a lot of time and energy are required to undo the 200 year head start given to white Americans.
Imagine a scenario in which dozens of people are drowning in a river and we are trying to pull them out and help them dry off. At some point a few people decide to go upstream to investigate why so many people are falling into the river. By addressing the root of the problem, they presume, fewer people will fall in the river in the first place. While we as service-providers have been working hard to address the obvious RESULTS of systemic disparities, perhaps we could use a few people to go upstream to address the CAUSES of social inequalities.
The only constant in life is change. Our efforts will influence whether that inevitable change will be productive or destructive for society. I hope that MCCOY’s work will help members of our community live more fulfilling, vibrant lives and will help people emerge from the cycles of poverty and institutionalized racism.