A big and long overdue thank you to all of those who attended the statewide Race Matters conference held in December 2014 hosted by Voices for Children in Nebraska in conjunction with the Partners for Race and Equity in Nebraska. The objective of the conference was to utilize data from our 2014 Kids Count in Nebraska report to shine the spotlight and provide specific data on the racial disparities in the areas of Health, Education, Child Welfare, Economic Stability and Juvenile Justice. The conference was also intended to provide training on the Racial Equity Impact Analysis tool and to develop an action plan for moving forward in the years to come.
When the Annie E. Casey Foundation released its Race for Results policy report in April 2014, it aimed to bring greater understanding among policymakers and influential organizations of how race matters – and has always has mattered – in the policies, institutions and systems that shape the future of children and families in America. The policy report indicated how systems must focus on approaches that remove racial barriers to opportunity for children of color if we are going to be successful in improving outcomes for all children. The recommendations from the Race for Results report are: 1) gather and analyze racial and ethnic data to inform all phases of programs, policies and decision making; 2) use data and impact assessment tools to target investments to yield the greatest impact for children of color; 3) develop and implement promising and evidence-based programs and practices focused on improving outcomes for children and youth of color; and 4) integrate economic inclusion strategies within economic and workforce development efforts.
It appears however, that racial inequities seem to get national media attention only when riots break out in places like Ferguson and Baltimore in response to black teenagers and young men dying after coming into contact with police. So many instances of this happen in silence. After all, we live in a country where young black males are 21 times more likely than their white counterparts to be shot dead by police, according to a ProPublica analysis. Although police shootings are the most distressing indicators of inequity, there are many others, as the Race for Results index pointed out when it was unveiled a year ago. Children of color face the toughest obstacles to opportunity in America at every stage of their growth, and it has been happening for generations and centuries. It is well past time for honest and sincere conversations about race if we really mean what we say when we describe our country as a land of equal opportunity.
The Race Matters Conference was intended to build on the Casey Foundation’s Race for Results Policy Report, and to inspire conversations that go beneath the surface and explore the structural roots of racial inequities. By definition, structural racism is racial bias across institutions and society and describes the cumulative and compounding effects of factors that systematically privilege white people and disadvantage people of color. One of the goals was to highlight how systems, policies and processes perpetuate structural racism, and how they do great harm to the very same children of color they are supposed to help.
As we know, various approaches exist to aid in advancing and achieving racial equity. Approaches can include emphasis on policies and practices, prejudice reduction, anti-racism training, healing, reconciliation, diversity, multiculturalism and civic engagement.
While all of these lenses are an important part of a multi-pronged approach to addressing racial disparities, the focus of this conference was on policies and practices. Achieving racial equity requires systems-level thinking. Individuals are not viewed as “bad actors” but as part of an interconnected system that involves both people and institutions. We all play a part in what occurs in Nebraska and we can all help to create change.
The Race Matters Conference was attended by more than 275 individuals from various sectors. We are happy to share the final results of the conference. You can find the results of the overall evaluations and demographic breakdown of day one and day two as well as the evaluation of each of the keynote speakers here:
- Race Matters Overall Evaluations
- Pre-conference Evaluation
- Race Matters Day 1 Evaluation
- Race Matters Day 2 Evaluation
You can find the results of the breakout sections here:
Please review the evaluations– paying special attention to the break out session summaries and potential next steps.
So where do we go from here? Potential next steps include but are not limited to the following:
- Reconvene those interested in the specific breakout sections to develop action plans, commitments and a timeline for moving the work forward in the areas of Child Welfare, Juvenile Justice, Health, Education and Economic Stability.
- Please let us know what you have done since the conference to incorporate the information and tools you learned to continue to move this work forward.
- In our effort to keep this work moving forward, Voices for Children has decided to create a Race for Results “Index” in the commentary section of our 2015 Kids Count Report similar to the national Race for Results report released in April of 2014 by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. We will be reaching out to this group to help us select the indicators for this Nebraska specific Race for Results Index.
Voices for Children is committed to continuing to partner with each of you who are passionate about moving this work forward. Stay tuned. More details to come.