The loss, anger, sadness and discomfort all of us in The Children’s Village (CV) community are feeling right now is palpable. The police brutality and systemic racism that we have seen recently in the media is something that hits close to home for many of our staff, youth and families, and supporters. I am doing my best to find a voice that captures my emotions and the voice that best represents this organization.
A little over three weeks ago we were focused on the horrific murder of Ahmaud Arbery and the months of cover-up of that killing. Late in March we heard of the killing of Breonna Taylor, an EMT and aspiring nurse, killed in her own apartment in the middle of the night. Then came the killing of George Floyd, with video too heartbreaking to watch – but that galvanized the country.
Unfortunately for too many Americans, equal protection is not a promise. It is not true and it has never been true. They are not chosen, they are rejected, they are bullied, they are denied and they are killed. Many of you know of this double standard. CV knows it because this is the population we serve. Together we must push ourselves to respond in ways that bring healing by not turning our back on the truth. We will find ways to speak the truth about what we see and know to those who are willing to listen, want to change, and want to be part of a solution.
This is about a system that condones and allows abuse, murder, violence and the denial of due process against black, brown and poor people to continue without consequences, with the brunt of the violence being borne by African Americans, especially African American men. Systems are all about culture. Culture is all powerful. When the culture is positive and transparent it pushes us all to be better. When a culture is self-serving and opaque it protects bad behavior and allows criminality to fester. At The Children’s Village we talk about organizational culture often, and it is an important time to clarify what that means for us in this moment.
The Children’s Village will do all we can to fight racism. We will speak clearly. We will act and lead by example. We will work hard to win the hearts and minds of those in power and we will do better as we urge into action those who speak of change but refuse to take the risks that are required to make change happen. Most importantly, we will be an organization that provides an example of what inclusion looks and feels like. Winning this battle will require all of us — all colors, all faiths, and all people.
Jeremy Kohomban, PhD
President & CEO
P.S. Last week we collaborated with Dobbs Ferry High School students and the DFPD on a Black Lives Matter demonstration at Waterfront Park. The outpouring of support makes us proud to be part of this community. You can view the photos and videos here, or watch the coverage on News 12.