Letters from our Executive Director, Kelly Sturgis
We Stand With You
“Dear partners and friends,
As youth workers, children look up to us to teach them right from wrong.
The death—the murder—of George Floyd is wrong. Our country’s unrelenting, inequitable treatment of people of color is wrong. The systemic racism imbedded in our society is simply wrong.
In his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ Right now, everywhere the youth of New York look, they see injustice.
Many of these children already sense that the deck is stacked against them. Make sure that when in your care, every child knows that they are safe and that their voice will be heard.
As you plan your upcoming programming, I encourage you to embrace a holistic approach that includes trauma-informed practices as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion. On our DEI resource page, we also include a list of books that help facilitate conversations about race and justice with children of all ages. Share this list with parents and caregivers to encourage the continuation of these discussions at home. Discuss these resources among your staff and colleagues to better understand individual experiences, educate about the history of racial injustice in our country, and act together in solidarity.
These are not easy conversations. But they are critical. The Network always stands with you, our essential youth workers, and we are here to support your work as we once again navigate our collective grief.
Kelly Sturgis and the New York State Network for Youth Success Team”
The Network Responds to Attacks on the AAPI Community
A Message from Kelly Sturgis and the New York State Network for Youth Success Team:
“Over the past year, our lives and communities have been turned upside down by two viruses: COVID-19 and hate.
The Network for Youth Success shares in your anguish and outrage over the violent and deadly attacks against members of the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community across the country, including right here in New York. These senseless assaults are a devastating reminder that the same racism and scapegoating that spurred the Chinese Exclusion Act, Japanese internment camps, and general anti-Asian hate continues to be a stain on our country to this day.
Pandemic fears have fueled the sharp increase in brazen and abhorrent attacks against the AAPI community. People are being targeted, assaulted, and murdered in broad daylight.
We all know that hate is learned. Afterschool staff are uniquely positioned to challenge a child’s learned racism or hate before it becomes ingrained, and to protect kids who are being traumatized by race-fueled harassment, bullying, and isolation.
When it comes to the children in our care, we can intervene. We MUST intervene.
According to the Stop AAPI Hate Youth Incident Report, “Adults were present in almost half of the [discrimination] incidents (48%), but in only 10% of the cases did bystanders intervene.”
In a recent segment on Saturday Night Live, cast member Bowen Yang challenged his fellow New Yorkers and the entire nation to “do more.” The Network pledges to do more, and so can you.
- Shut down any anti-Chinese or anti-AAPI language, such as referring to “COVID-19” as the “China virus.”
- Step in and intervene the moment you see a child being physically or verbally harassed for their race or ethnicity.
- Lookout for—and put an immediate stop to—any shunning or isolation of AAPI youth by their peers.
The Network for Youth Success will update our racial equity page as more resources and trainings become available. Please send us any resources your team has found helpful so that we may share them with our members.
It has been a devastating year. Please continue to take care of yourselves and each other.”