Hundreds gathered at Dobbs Ferry Waterfront Park for a Black Lives Matter rally on June 4th. The rally was organized by seniors from Dobbs Ferry High School, and featured many speakers from CV, in addition to local politicians and New York State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. People came together not just to mourn the recent death of George Floyd, but also to advocate for major systemic change in this country.
CV President & CEO Dr. Jeremy Kohomban remarked that “Ahmaud, Breonna, George…these are just names in a long list of names that will continue if we do not reform our institutions. When cultures are positive and transparent, it pushes us to do better. When cultures are self-serving and opaque, it protects bad behavior.”
As the man responsible for creating and maintaining the culture at CV, Jeremy knows this fight well. In a statement after the rally he said that at CV we “will do all we can to fight racism. We will 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.”
Creating a Culture of Inclusion
In 2010, CV’s Undoing Institutionalized Racism (UIR) committee was founded. The UIR committee was convened to examine and address inequities in CV’s internal systems and its work with families, while also acting as advocates with external systems. The committee recognizes that race relations are important in institutionalized settings, and provides a setting where race, ethnic differences, color and boundaries are addressed head on. In the years since its founding, the UIR committee has effected major change at CV by leading workshops on disproportionality, developing bilingual positions, calling for transparency in promotion and hiring practices, providing workshops on trauma and racism, developing protocols for police involvement with our youth, and much more.
The Work Ahead
Despite the great strides that the UIR committee has made, there is much more to be done. At the Black Lives Matter rally in Dobbs Ferry, CV’s Adoption and Foster Care office manager Marjorie Zuniga inspired the crowd. “Our willingness to show up today and stand in solidarity is a testament to the need for change. And there is much more work to be done. We must continue to stand together and fight for justice.” Jeremy echoed her words. “The United States is an aspirational democracy, it’s all about being a place where we can all be equal. But we haven’t yet gotten there. It is my responsibility, and that of my generation, to create a future that is better than the one that was given to us. We can create new history every day.”