Start Early (formerly known as the Ounce) works to provide a bright and just future for all children, and this would not be possible without recognizing that each child, family and community has been uniquely impacted and traumatized by generations of institutional racism and long-tolerated inequities. As an organization committed to making sure that children, particularly our youngest learners, have the best chances in life, we stand in solidarity with those peacefully protesting the historical trauma, institutional racism and police brutality that is rampant in major U.S. cities. We unequivocally condemn this senseless violence and acknowledge the problems that plague communities of color across the country — lack of economic opportunity, over-policing, inaccessible health care, housing instability and environmental inequities. We see these issues, among others, as a direct threat to our mission, and we will continue to identify and prioritize the populations most impacted by these barriers.
Although the racially charged murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and now George Floyd are currently in the spotlight, for every high-profile death that makes national news, thousands of similar incidents are quickly dismissed or ignored. As we face the loss of another Black life taken at the hands of police officers, the raw emotion and exasperation of protesters is justified and heartbreaking. We also see the generational inequities of racism embedded amid this global pandemic. The majority of “essential workers” are people of color who are dying from COVID-19 at disproportionately high rates due to the underlying health conditions that often impact poor and minority communities.
Start Early commits to strengthening and deepening its work as an anti-racist organization that works in true partnership with communities to ensure equitable access to high-quality early childhood care and experiences. We look forward to working with our staff and our partners in the fields of research, policy and practice to explore ways we can leverage our mission to dismantle racism and support children from historically marginalized and under-served populations. We aim to approach this critical work with humility and reflection.
We do not have the answers, nor do we pretend to. However, we are working with our partners to do more than listen and heal. We are working to dismantle and rebuild. We refuse to compromise our mission by tolerating explicit or implied practices and policies that negatively impact the integrity or ability of Black children and their families to thrive and prosper long-term. We are prepared to act accordingly to confront anti-Black policies and practices, and we won’t allow them to go unchecked.
To the Black men, women and children in this country who have been carrying the burden of racial injustice and systemic anti-Black sentiment for generations: we see you, we hear you and your life matters.