Inequities have consequences.
The deaths of unarmed African Americans George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery and the racial-targeting of Christian Cooper and Omar Jimenez are all tragedies from the extreme to the life-altering that make painfully plain the persistent, systemic inequities that have consequences, both seen and unseen.
It hurts to know that these are not individual or isolated incidents. These acts illustrate the historic and systemic barriers to equity and opportunity faced by African Americans and other people of color.
No one should have to fear for their lives because of the color of their skin. No parent should have to worry for their child’s safety and well-being when they venture outside of their home. No community should disproportionately bear the health, economic and social burden of the COVID-19 pandemic.
First 5 LA stands firmly against racism, oppression and inequality in all of its forms. We stand in solidarity with those who pursue equity, justice, human dignity for all, and an end to racism. We recommit ourselves to be a part of solutions that continue to move toward addressing what’s wrong in our society.
Yes, we have to know our lane is kids. We also have to know what else is on the road and what barriers exist which hinder more equitable outcomes for young children and their families. We have to ask ourselves - and others – why is it happening and how can we change it?
Our work is about seeing inequity and doing something about it.
It’s important for us to recognize the events that are unfolding, the root causes of why the protests and unrest across our communities are happening, and concrete steps to effect change. Yes, this a moment for empathy, listening, and deep reflection - personally and organizationally. And, it’s a moment for intentional and meaningful action – action that reflects our shared humanity.
At First 5 LA, we’re dedicated to diversity, equity and inclusion in our work and within our organization’s culture. We do so - made real by partnering with parents and leaders at the local, County and state level to change the conditions that affect child development and family well-being.
To make progress, we have to shift the conditions that hold a problem in place. And doing this means making the early learning, child health and family strengthening systems that focus on families, work for families, including families of color.
We are committed to listening carefully to our many partners – parents, family-serving organizations, contracted partners – regarding the barriers that hold inequities in place and opportunities for First 5 LA to strengthen community assets and advance shared strategies.
Our work together has never been more important. We can and must do more to stand up, speak out, and stand with those who share our commitment to a just, equitable and safe Los Angeles.
Kim Belshé | Executive Director