Interrupting Racism

By Susan Mason

This past November, the CASA Board of Directors participated in one-day Interrupting Racism Workshop for Children workshop presented by Child Advocates of Indianapolis, IN.  

This interactive workshop allows individuals to “engage, grow and gain understanding as they address racism and its impact on our children.” This is accomplished through a series of sessions that educate participants on the history and purpose of racism, the relationship between racism and historical laws, policies and poverty, and how racism adversely affects everyone. The goal is for participants to leave the workshop with an understanding of the role we play in combating racism through understanding our own implicit biases, and how we begin to create communities where a child’s outcome is not predictable based on race.  

I found the workshop to be extremely eye opening – from the history of the word, “race,” to how implicit biases can start so early in one’s life.  From a preschool teacher paying more attention to their Black male students in anticipation of bad behavior, to women not being taken seriously in the workplace, implicit bias is invasive in many of our decisions.   

For a child, in particular children of color, these biases may determine if they wind up in the system because their parents’ situation is viewed more harshly than similar situations with white parents.  In turn, situations where a white child is in need may be overlooked or missed because their parents don’t fit the preconceived stereotypes.  Both of these situations are influenced by bias and, as a result, may be detrimental to a child’s outcome.   

As we walked through the sessions, I began to realize how situations in my own life as an African American female may have been impacted by the implicit bias of others – the counselor who, without looking at my transcript,  told me I would never get into the college I applied; the ideas I suggested at work, only to be ignored but then suggested by someone else and it became a “great idea.”  I left this workshop enlightened and empowered to do my part to make a change in eradicating racism and bias in the decisions impacting children – the most vulnerable members of our society. 

I am grateful for the opportunity to have participated in this great workshop with the other board members and Jill English and her team from Care Advocates. As a diverse board, it was great to hear other perspectives and how Jill and her team used those experiences to enhance the sessions.  I truly believe we will be able to use what we’ve learned to create inclusive environments for the children we serve, giving them the best chances for successful outcomes, free of bias.