By Randy Corradine,
Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
I am very excited to be a part of YouthCare! I invite the entire community to participate in a consciousness-raising effort for Black History Month (BHM). We acknowledge that this effort is only a starting point intended to enhance awareness and spark conversations, and recognize that this ongoing effort must include the full intersectionality of black identities and experiences. The intention is to support the YouthCare community in having meaningful conversations, learning, and building relationships; this BHM strengthens our community and equity and social justice work.
“Let us rumble with the preexisting condition of systemic racism and work to enhance our practice to end youth homelessness and houselessness in Seattle.“
We at YouthCare will elevate Black voices and narratives and encourage our teams and communities to go beyond awareness and education to action. We will continue to examine how the disproportionate impacts of the pandemic on the Black community only widen the racial disparities evident in the U.S. and Washington specifically. Let us rumble with the preexisting condition of systemic racism and work to enhance our practice to end youth homelessness and houselessness in Seattle.
We will learn that the legacy of those who have gone before us, that the legacy of Dr. King, is more than a dream speech. King’s radical love was his courageous faith in the divine morality that compels people to build or restore relationships. King’s legacy is the love and transformation he left behind. King’s legacy reminds us that the movement is marching on in the struggle to get to the Promised Land. To paraphrase a civil rights matriarch, “Social justice is the job of each of us. Justice is for the living.” The struggle goes on, and King’s people march on.
“We will witness the power of Black resiliency through poets and artists committed to being recorders, responders, rebukers, rejoicers, and rebuilders of the Black experience.”
We will witness the power of Black resiliency and contribution through poets and artists committed to being recorders, responders, rebukers, rejoicers, and rebuilders of the Black experience. We will learn a little about each other’s stories by writing about our cultural and racial experience. We will pick up our pencils and write, or sit at our keyboards and type. Reflect and engage. Writing and sharing build community, allowing each of us to risk more. To quote a great BIPOC Portland Public School educator, “To heal ourselves, our society, and our world, we must turn our pain into power.”
“Voice and counter-narrative are vital in the pursuit of equity and justice”
We will turn pain into power as Kendrick Lamar did with his song Promise That You Will Sing About Me from his first Grammy-winning album, madd kid good city. Lamar’s song finds inspiration in the roots of many African tribal naming ceremonies. It flirts with the idea of legacy and the genius of the black literacy movement, “liberation through literacy,” and how the resilience and resistance of black artists provided many counter-narratives through voice, craft, art, and performance. Voice and counter-narrative are vital in the pursuit of equity and justice and, at times for many in the black experience, personally liberating.
“Black history is American history.”
We will use voice to reclaim story, as in the spirit of the Swampy Cree Indians who believe that “to say the name is to begin the story.” Naming is personal, cultural, and political. Black history is American history. When Africans were stolen upon the shores of the motherland, their names and histories were also stolen by colonizers. Black history and heritage didn’t start with the transatlantic slave trade. Black History is always about lifting up the contributions of black folxs in America and beyond; every effort centers on the voices and stories of black excellence, joy, love, and passion. Every action contributes to a pursuit for the black people to reclaim themselves.
“We will celebrate community – we are raised by grandmothers, fathers, aunties, coaches, teachers, churches, and community centers.”
We will celebrate community – the homes, places, and people who raised us. We will lift up the women in our lives as in the poem by Kelly Norman Ellis, Raised by Women, which celebrates the “thick haired, groovin, tea sipping, PhD toten,” women in her life. In many black communities across the country, we are raised by grandmothers, fathers, aunties, coaches, teachers, churches, and community centers. Black history is a reality that black people and communities live always, and we make American history every day.
And lastly, we will reflect with gratitude and make a simple effort to “glow up” the many voices, contributions, and gifts of our ancestors, elders, and the “now” and “got next” influencers. We will celebrate our community, homes, people, and heritages. Invoke the Spirit of Sankofa; Go back and get it! Live our ancestors’ dreams while living history and marching for justice. Ancestors blazed the trails, and the elders are living black history while the “now” and “got next” influencers are out here making and dreaming bigger dreams for the future generations. Foreground black women, pay respect, stride, ride, and continue to carry on traditions.
“We remain in solidarity to fight for justice, legislation passage, and reform that values that all black lives matter always.”
Through the past couple of years, the smog of an invisible virus and the persistent symptoms of racism have bombarded us all with an overwhelming sense of suffering. The smog thickens. National headlines of mass shootings, ongoing hate crimes, status quo policing in and out of the communities we walk alongside. But YouthCare’s community is strong and united. We do hard things. We remain in solidarity to fight for justice, legislation passage, and reform that values that all black lives matter always. We all walk different paths in this maze of life, and all of us at YouthCare have one course in common; each of us chooses to walk alongside youth impacted by systems and homelessness.
“These amazing youth deserve to be valued, seen, celebrated, and empowered for all of who they are.”
These amazing youth deserve to be valued, seen, celebrated, and empowered for all of who they are. Beyond that, they deserve our commitment to dismantling systems and processes that cause them harm. YouthCare has much work to do, and it will take all of us to do that work together. So today, this month, and beyond let’s show up. Let’s reflect on our contributions, opportunities, and commitments to continuing on this journey to a future where black youth, and all youth, see themselves and feel safe to thrive.
Be Inspired & Change Narratives!
Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at YouthCare