The road to equity began long before us, and the journey is ongoing. For the 2017-2018 program year, Family Matters has updated its mission, vision, and core value statements to reflect the fact that we are now viewing the work we do through the targeted lens of eliminating racism and oppression. In doing so, we sought the input of youth, parents, the Board, volunteers, and staff and hosted a community Peace Circle to ensure all voices were represented. Our intent is to add more voices to the conversation to address the following justice issues:
Efforts to close the educational gap—Much of the disparity in test scores between youth of color and white youth can be traced to the limited resources of under-performing schools in the area. At Family Matters we offer individualized, culturally relevant academic tutor-mentoring to support youth in reaching their highest potentials, receiving equitable opportunities, and achieving outcomes for college- and career-readiness.
Disproportionally high rates of suspension—According to the Brown Center Report (BRC) on Education, African-American youth are suspended at a rate 13.4% higher than their white peers. The goal of our Alternative to Suspension program is to transform the suspension period into a positive, reflective, and valuable experience for youth by providing a safe space, holistic counseling, and a restorative approach to resolving conflict.
Swimming access and inequities—Historical segregation, persistent stereotypes, and lack of access and instruction have kept many of the youth in the North of Howard neighborhood from the opportunity to swim. Family Matters’ Making Waves program, in partnership with the YMCA, is changing that—providing swimming and water safety lessons weekly.
Youth employment opportunities—One of the most effective means of preventing neighborhood violence and promoting peace is employment. With the support of Northwestern University, a CPR certification program was offered to 20 youth in January, opening up pathways for job options. Also, Project RISE, the summer employment initiative of the Teen Programs, will continue, and we hope to expand it to a full-year program.
Community engagement projects—The argument could be made that focusing on social justice issues is a luxury available only to those with substantial resources. We at Family Matters think that it is vital to the lives of Family Matters youth to learn how social change can be effected through community service. Check out our website to learn of the many community engagement projects youth from K – 12 grades are spearheading!
Co-creating a safe space for all—Peaceful dialogues are underway as the Boys to Men program members have begun to screen their documentary “Silence the Violence” around the community. Trainings on our model, Principles of Leadership, are also intentionally focused on facilitating personal and collective justice—through developing strong relationships, meaningful communication, and safe environments—for courageous social change.
In the Family Matters community, we inspire each other as our expectations for equity elevate. We are counting on others in the community to push us to aim higher and higher. To this end, we have created a “Staff Picks” list of our team’s favorite social-change books, songs, podcasts, movies, and more as a way to deepen understanding of the social justice issues. Distributing this list is our way of reaching out and inviting responses, including the addition of our supporters’ personal favorites.
Staff Picks on the Topic of Equity
White Rage by Carol Anderson
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
Waking up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson
12 Years a Slave by Solomon Northup
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
Yurguru by Marimba Ani
The Moral Imagination: The Art and Soul of Building Peace by John Paul Lederach
A People’s History of Chicago by Kevin Coval
Creating True Peace by Thich Nhat Hanh
Integrating Mindfulness into Anti-Oppression Pedagogy by Beth Berila
Unequal City: Race, Schools, and Perceptions of Injustice by Carla Shedd
Beautiful, Also, Are the Souls of My Black Sisters: A History of the Black Woman in America by Jeanne Noble
Black Men: Obsolete, Single, Dangerous? The Afrikan American Family in Transition by Haki Madhubuti
Honoring Genius: Gwendolyn Brooks by Haki Madhubuti
By Any Means Necessary Malcolm X: Real, Not Reinvented edited by Herb Boyd, Ron Daniels, Maulana Karenga, and Haki Madhubuti
Liberation Narratives by Haki Madhubuti
Walking in Circles by Barbara Sizemore
2000 Seasons by Ayi Kwei Armah
Books by Audre Lorde
On Being by Krista Tippett
This American Life – “Three Miles” https://www.thisamericanlife.org/550/three-miles
Snap Judgement – “Senior Year Mix Tape” http://snapjudgment.org/senior-year-mixtape
Remember the Titans
Sojourners – (https://sojo.net/)
Videos and Music