June 04, 2020

No Matter What - Again, Still

A message from our Executive Director

Friends Austin community,

The unacceptable realities of systemic oppression, violence, and deprivation of equitable opportunities are not new to our team at Friends Austin or, certainly, to the children and families we serve, who are 97% people of color.

Arguably, without systemic racism and its ugly tentacles, Friends of the Children would not even need to exist.

Every day Friends fight tenaciously on behalf of their youth, committing to serve and advocate for them No. Matter. What. Including right now. At Friends of the Children we have 5 Core Values: Put Children First, Build Relationships on Love, Commit to Empowerment, Pursue Goals Relentlessly, and Demand Equity. The work needed today – work to name, condemn, and battle racial injustice – has been, is, and will continue to happen at Friends Austin every day.

But, friends, many on our team are exhausted and terrified. The families we serve are exhausted and terrified. Our Black boys at Friends Austin are right now only 5, 6, 7, and don’t yet quite understand the reality of the world that is waiting for them to stop being adorable, start being a “threat,” and punish them mercilessly.

So, this is not another one of the same emails filling up in your inbox. I appreciate hearing what companies and organizations new to this work are instituting and doing right now – that is needed and good. But, our team, locally and nationally, has been Demanding Equity for a long time and will continue to do so.

Frankly, I would really like for them to know they are not alone, that the burden of work and change is not on them right now, that, just maybe, some small thing will improve this time.

My invitation to you: Will you please think of one of our Friends Austin children in your mind’s eye, then choose a white child in your orbit, and have a hard conversation with them today? Name their white privilege, give them a developmentally appropriate lesson on racism, begin the first of many conversations on a long journey to building an anti-racist generation? (There are plenty of places you can google language for this if helpful.) And then, will you send me their first name? For each of our 112 Friends Austin kids, I want to be able to name 5 more children who will be joining the effort to make the world a safe place for them. If you’d like to include a note for our Friends, even if it says nothing more than “the Pollard family stands with you, sees you, will fight alongside you,” it would be my honor to compile all this and share it.

I’ve already said too many words and defer now to the experts (many more you’ll be able to access shortly on our website):

“Love, for whiteness, dissolves into a demand for grace, for niceness, for endless patience – to keep everyone feeling comfortable while hearts are being changed. In this way, so-called love dodges any responsibility for action and waits for the great catalytic moment that finally spurs accountability. I am not interested in love that is aloof. In a love that refuses hard work, instead demanding bite-size education that doesn’t transform anything. In a love that qualifies the statement “Black lives matter,” because it is unconvinced this is true. I am not interested in love that refuses to see systems and structures of injustice, preferring to ask itself only about personal intentions.

This aloof kind of love is useless to me.

I need a love that is troubled by injustice. A love that is provoked to anger when Black folks, including our children, lie dead in the streets. A love that can no longer be concerned with tone because it is concerned with life. A love that has no tolerance for hate, no excuses for racist decisions, no contentment in the status quo. I need a love that is fierce in its resilience and sacrifice. I need a love that chooses justice.”

- Austin Channing Brown, I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness

Humbly,

Nancy Pollard

Executive Director

Friends of the Children Austin

npollard@friendsaustin.org