ARC Statement on Racism, Systems of Oppression and Trauma

As treatment developers whose life work has been focused on understanding, supporting, and building safe systems around children and families whose lives have been shaped and impacted by chronic trauma and violence,  we have watched with horror the continued unfolding of structural and systemic violence, racism, and oppression in the United States that has led – in recent days alone – to the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery; deaths which represent so many other stolen lives of BIPOC, and generation after generation of injustice. All too often, murders such as these – preceded and set into motion by years of failures of those with the power to do so to act – have been followed by further injustice and inaction.

We are making this statement for two primary reasons:

First – to voice our horror. We recognize the privilege – as two white women – that would allow us to stay silent. We believe that right now, silence is complicity. We stand against racism and systemic and structural violence in all its forms. We acknowledge the tremendous toll that historic and current injustice has taken on communities of color and recognize it as a profound and all too often unnamed form of traumatic stress. We grieve with and for communities who have experienced the direct impact of this injustice and violence.   

Second – to voice our commitment to take action. We know that acknowledgment is not enough. Over the past several years, the ARC trainer team has had many conversations about how we can build a better understanding of the impacts of racism, discrimination in all its forms, and acts of social aggression in the lives of our collaborators, our communities, and by and in ourselves. We have challenged ourselves to recognize our own areas of implicit bias and ignorance. We have wrestled with how to approach our work with curiosity and humility, and how to translate our understanding into empowering, collaborative efforts.

We commit publicly to continuing that conversation; to seeking information and education in many places and from many voices; to actively working to expand our base of trainers and consultants, so that the diversity of the communities we work with and support are represented by those who are doing the work; to listen to and to center in everything we do the voices of those with lived experience; and to take action wherever and however we can, in collaboration with those whom our actions affect. We welcome dialogue from everyone with whom we work and collaborate, and from all of you in our community.

We know that acts of racism, oppression, and social aggression come in many forms, and that the impacts of systemic injustice are felt in thousands of small cuts inflicted day after day, and not just in the major blows that make the news cycle. We commit to remaining on this journey even as the headlines subside, to continue our efforts toward building safer systems of care for all youth and families, and to actively address and name all forms of trauma and violence.

With humility and in community,

Margaret Blaustein and Kristine Kinniburgh, ARC co-developers

This statement was released by e-mail and by website posting on June 8, 2020.

Recommended Resources on Bias, Racism, and Complex Trauma

In each of our newsletters, we share resources relevant to complex trauma in youth and families. This month, we shine a spotlight on the role of race, class and context in the systemic infliction of trauma on youth and families, as well as in the response of helping communities. Some resources and recommendations are here.

Featured Books

Between the World and Me : This powerful book by Ta-Nehisi Coates, a black author, journalist, and comic-book writer, describes in a series of essays the history and lived experience of race and racism in the United States.
How to be an Antiracist : It is not enough to be non-racist; at this stage in our collective history, it is critical to be an anti-racist. In this book, professor and author Ibram X. Kendi describes and expands on the concepts of racism, anti-racism, and the possibilities of action.
White Fragility: Why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism : This treatise by Robin Diangelo, a white woman who works as an antiracist educator, is a thought-provoking exploration for those who are least often in the position of having to give thought to the role of race and racism in everyday experience.
Biased: Uncovering the hidden prejudice that shapes what we see, think and do: In order to address and challenge our own implicit bias, we must first be aware of it. In this text, professor Jennifer Eberhardt masterfully weaves together research and narrative to demonstrate the ways that bias shapes our perception and actions.

Research Articles and Reports
Girlhood Interrupted A report published by the Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality shines a light on the starkly differential perception and treatment of young Black girls in public systems. Full text of the article, authored by Epstein, Blake, and Gonzalez, is available here .
Race and Differential Treatment in the Juvenile Justice System : In an analysis from 2002, Nunn describes striking racial disparities in the treatment of African-American youth in the juvenile justice system at every stage of the process, from arrest to detainment to formal charging to time in custody. Beyond a critical review of the practices and implications of these disparities, Nunn examines the dynamics of “othering” within that facilitate societal acceptance of these injustices.
Disparities in Education : A lengthy report, this comprehensive review and analysis by the American Psychological Association examines racial and ethnic disparities in the educational system. The full report can be accessed here .

Interview with Dr. John Rich: In this 15-minute video, Dr. John Rich, author of Wrong Place, Wrong Time and primary developer of the Healing Hurt People program describes his own process of learning about and working with youth who have experienced acute violence; generational and societal influences on both the experience of violence inflicted on young men of color as well as on the treatment they receive; and the role of building trauma-informed and socially just systems of care.

Clinician Resources
Fact Sheet – Complex Trauma in Urban African-American Youth and Families : This fact sheet developed by the NCTSN provides a brief description of the experience of complex trauma among African-American youth in the U.S.; common barriers to service provision; and strategies for providers in collaborating with families and communities.