Tragically, today we echo the words we printed last fall: The high-profile violence against Black Americans during interactions with police continue to occur. Most recently, footage from a traffic stop of Army Lieutenant Caron Nazario in Virginia and the shooting death of Daunte Wright in Minnesota are in the headlines, and now coverage of community protests with escalated police response. Horrifically, 20-year-old Daunte was shot 11 miles from where George Floyd was killed, 13 miles from where Philando Castile was killed, and just hours before the 11th day of the Derek Chauvin trial.
It is too terrible to bear.
The trauma of this violence playing out again and again in the news and on social media affects the young people in our care. Youth today experience these events like no other generation before them because of the ubiquity of cell phone cameras and the release of police body cam footage. Over and over we see with our eyes and hear with our ears the escalation and the devastation, and for young brains that are in the midst of rapid social and emotional development? The effects of the trauma are permanent.
It is also important to recognize that these events have an effect on you. These hard moments can trigger deep, painful emotional responses and challenge our anxiety and focus. Do what you can to take care of yourself, and speak with your supervisors if you need support. You are not alone- support is out there. Text HOME to 741741 to reach a trained Crisis Counselor at the Crisis Text Line.
The BGCA Youth Development team continue to monitor all of the news as well as social and cultural events and movements that impact kids and teens. We have resources to support your work on the frontlines with your members, including the brand new Smart Girls Growing Up Black Discussion Guide, a companion to last year’s Passport to Manhood Growing Up Black Discussion Guide. Both video-based guides are designed to facilitate listening sessions and provide a safe place for youth to process their feelings through conversations that recognize and acknowledge injustices. They are designed to counter negative physical, emotional, and social effects and support youth in developing pride around their identities. Either can be facilitated virtually, in-person, or in a hybrid model, and contain question sets specifically designed for groups of all Black youth and for groups with varying racial, ethnic, and cultural identities.
You can find a recently updated round-up of resources, including ClubX Blog posts and other BGCA and partner resources on race, emotional health, and supporting youth voice and activism in this post. It will be updated as new resources are created, so bookmark and revisit it as necessary.
It is our greatest wish and hope that we never need to post anything like this again, but sadly we know that is not likely. Systemic racism is deeply embedded in American culture and institutions and will not be uprooted without a tremendous amount of effort. Boys & Girls Clubs continue to be a place where young people can safely process and learn how to challenge and dismantle these systems and create equitable ones. We believe that the future will be better, because we believe in the power of youth. We leave you with the words of the late Congressman John Lewis, who we are proud to say supported the work of Boys & Girls Clubs and continually uplifted the voices of young people. May they be an encouragement to you as you continue the work.