Undoing Racism in Marion County

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.

My Perspective on Bullying:
Written by Ashley Flippen, IUPUI School of Social Work
Bullying in my eyes is unacceptable. I feel like there are times when it is taken too lightly and not dealt with properly. Especially in the school systems. I have a second cousin who went to a private catholic school and she is partially deaf. She has hearing aides to help her hear. She is 20 years old and has a speech problem due to being partially deaf. She came home one day crying to her parents saying she never wanted to go back to school. When her parents asked why she said that there are girls that are making fun of her because she couldn’t talk right. They even pushed her down on the playground and turned up her hearing aids so they would ring. And if you don’t know when that happens it is very painful for the person that has them. Her parents were outraged and went to the principle office to talk with them. When telling the principle the story he said that there was nothing they could do because none of the teachers or anyone had seen these actions. The principle assured her parents that nothing like that would ever happen in this particular school. Her parents were frustrated but let it go this time. They talked to their daughter and told her if it happened again to go straight to the teacher. A few months passed and the students started picking on her but this time would do it when the teacher wasn’t around so my cousin couldn’t tell. She went home again crying and her parents went to the principle office again. Still they wouldn’t do anything. Her parents ended up pulling her and her brother out of the school because of this.
All of this could have been avoided in my eyes if the principle had dealt with it from the beginning. I feel like the teachers or principle should have set the students who were doing the teasing down and given them punishment. This is a prime example of the education system brushing bullying under the rug instead of dealing with it firsthand.

What We Didnt Know!!

I am the middle child of five amazing siblings. I have two older sister and a younger brother and sister. We were raised by two great partents, our father a Pastor and our mother a Social Worker. They raised us to be very respectful, kind and curtious to all people even at times when we didnt recieve the same respect back. And my older sister knew this all to well. By the age of 16 she was pregnant with her first child. I was 14 at the time and was very upset at the news. I told my sister I hated her and asked her so many questions as to why she would make the stupid decision of having a baby at such a young age. “How could you ruin our family and go against all of the values our parents taught us.” I asked. She never replied to me, she spent many days in her room, and around the house and I would walk past saying nothing to her. She went to school being ridiculed and talked about for being the young pregnant girl, who’s father is a pastor. She was talked about for being shy, quiet and with drawn and ultimately, once having the baby she was hospitalized for trying to commit suicide….. In my mind I just didn’t understand her. But after years of family counseling it was all made clear. WHAT WE DIDNT KNOW….. she had been raped by a man in the church… and molested by her uncle. And every week she faced the two of these men at a service or at a family function. Seeing them constantly reminded her of what happened to her along with them saying to her, ” If you ever tell, Ill kill you”. My heart hurt so bad after finding this out. Our family in shock, my sister weaping alligator tears what where we to do??????? So ultimately I ask you, love on people who are not like you, forgive those who make mistakes, pray for the ones who are different from you, and embrace all people. You could make a difference in someones life just lending an open ear…. and remember there is always something about them that you dont know… What We Didnt Know

The “Not-So” Perfect Childhood

To the residents in the small town I grew up in I was a part of the “perfect” family. I had a father, a mother, and two sisters. My sisters and I were all very active in school and sports. Little did the community know we were a broken family with a father deep into alcohol abuse. As we grow from children to adolescents we begin to notice what is really going on and gain an understanding of abuse, along with the embarrassment of having a parent suffer from any kind of substance abuse. The issue with alcoholism is that it does not only affect the individual who is suffering from the “sickness” it affects the entire family, especially a teenager who is now beginning to gain an understanding of substance abuse. It’s unfortunate for many children and adolescents who have to deal with any kind of substance abuse, particularly in such crucial transitional period in an individual’s life. To me, alcoholism was my biggest weakness growing up, but now it’s one of my many strengths. Because of the emotional and physical abuse in my childhood I consider myself I stronger person. I do not consider myself a product of my environment but I do use my children hood environment as a motivator. I am motivated to stay on task and follow a positive path (that I have created myself) to accomplish the goals that my incompetent father discouraged. I hope that other children/adolescents can use their “not-so” perfect child hood and their environment to make positive decisions and stay motivated until they have accomplished their own goals, without the negative discouragement from others.

Responsibility to Report

As a student social worker I know it is my responsibility to report any abuse of children, elders, or group of people that may not be able to speak for themselves. It would be unethical and equally incriminating of me to not report and allow any such abuse to continue. However, some organizations do not share this belief. Allow me to share an experience I had with this type of mentality.

For the three years I worked at my church’s outreach shelter. It was one of the most rewarding experiences and the most heartbreaking. I grew very close to many of the kids and have had the privilege of watching them grow. For me, working at the shelter was more than just having Sunday School and a Bible Study once a week. I started “Homework Help Night” and a clothes closet for the shelter. I did bread runs along with Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner drop- offs. The one problem that seemed to grow over the years was the church’s ignorance of abuse in the children. Sadly, the church adopted a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

In February 2010, a little girl I had taken care of for three years started to have a very aggressive and disrespectful attitude. I sat her down and told her that I couldn’t continue to be responsible for her if she didn’t listen to me. She then showed me bruises on her arms and took me to the bathroom to show me bruises in between her legs. She said when her mom left the house her boyfriend’s friends would hit her. I asked her what she wanted me to do and she said, “Please tell my mommy.” When I took her home I tried to talk to her mom, who I had become close with as well, but she defended the men. After I took the little girl home from church that night, a man was waiting for me. He tried to pay me off not to tell what I had seen. I went to my church leaders and demanded something be done. I had been to them about abuse before, but my concerns were always set aside. This time I did not stop. The church let me report the incident as a representative of the church.

After I reported the incident, they told me I was not allowed at the shelter anymore, because I was a liability. Soon after, the outreach pastor and authority overseeing the shelter asked me, “How many children have situations at home that should probably be reported?” I told him at least half. I’ll never forget what he told me. He said, “You see, if we reported every incident of child abuse, we wouldn’t have anyone to witness to.” While that ideology may be conducive to a religious organization, I knew I could never be a part of a success at the expense of a child.

Sadly, this is not an isolated incident. This blog is in no way attacking any church organization or generalizing this type of carelessness with religion. As a victim of child abuse, a woman, and as a student social worker interested in child welfare; I feel it is imperative that we uphold our responsibility to report and advocate for those who can not speak for themselves.