Adelphoi –‘my brother for whom I am concerned”. Our founder Father Paschal, was very intentional when he named this organization nearly 50 years ago. I’ve been trying to write something to you all in regards to the events of the past weeks. I start and stop and start again. Let me just say that I know that anything I say will be inadequate. There is no experience in my life that makes it possible for me to personally understand what racism feels like, and specifically, what the events of these last couple of weeks mean to our clients and staff of color.
I’m from South Minneapolis, so I take this personally. I grew up in the seventies, marched with the masses at the death of Reverend King. I taught pre-school in an African American Baptist Church in the city for two summers. My Dad’s store and surrounding community is right where these protests occurred. I’ve known for years that the work wasn’t finished. Where have I been?
It should not have taken the murder of George Floyd, and others like him, to bring this movement back to center stage or for me to say these words to all of you. We at Adelphoi need to be part of the discussion and part of the solution. We all come to this conversation from different points of view; some of us will say ‘this isn’t for me’. But for me, this organization cannot sit on the sidelines. Adelphoi is in the ‘justice’ business. Every one of the kids we have in our care have been in front of a Judge, maybe ridden in a cop car, seen or experienced an arrest, or possibly an assault. Most of our kids have seen more in their young lives than the rest of us. We know the communities that many live in are depleted economically, housing stock is poor and schools are underfunded. I’m often in conversations where we talk about what happens to kids once they are out of our care. We can’t expect that they will be able to move forward with their lives if their communities and families continue to feel the effects of racism sewn deep within the fabric of our society. The events of these last several weeks require us to acknowledge that racism affects us all. Dr. King, in his famous letter from the Birmingham Jail, said ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
So now what? I don’t have a solution, but I want to lead an organization that can listen and learn. We have long embraced trauma-informed care, and that will help prepare us to move forward in addressing these issues, our issues. We will talk about the role Adelphoi needs to play. Within our organization are the voices that can help Adelphoi acknowledge the pain, anger and fear that racism causes every day for both our families and staff, and help put this organization on a path that leads to justice and peace.