Florida ECCS has prioritized racial equity in their work both at the state and local levels. According to the National Equity Project, racial equity is more than an intellectual framework but both an outcome and a process. In other words, achieving racial equity takes work! Ghia Kelly, ECCS Project Manager, attended the Racial Equity Institute’s (REI) Phase II Training in Durham, NC to further the ECCS equity work. The two-day workshop was hosted by Organizing Against Racism (OAR) Durham and was attended by leaders from various sectors who were all working to achieve racial equity within their organizations and communities. In attendance, was Ben Hecht, the President and CEO of Living Cities, a collaborative of 18 of the world’s leading foundation and financial institutions who work together boldly to fight poverty in America’s cities. The Phase II training is designed to help individuals and institutions practice reframing problems and determining solutions with a racial equity lens. Participants are encouraged to use the “trial and error” approach, taking greater risks to change what are too often entrenched patterns of institutional practice.
While engaging in a racial equity dialogue with a group of highly intellectual people was both insightful and inspiring, what was most impactful was the notion that in order to achieve racial equity we must be willing to get “proximate to the problem.” That means, we must be willing to confront racism on all levels. We must be willing to have difficult conversations. We must be willing to challenge our own biases and prejudices. We must be willing to see racism as a systemic issue rather than individual acts of meanness. One of the REI trainers said, “This [racial equity] work is not something you do, but it is something you become.” That spoke volumes because that means the work actually starts with us—we must become what we hope to see in the families, organizations, and communities in which we work. The racial equity work continues as we prepare for our quarterly ECCS State Advisory Group Meeting in Orlando, FL! During this meeting state-level early childhood leaders and the place-based communities will be discussing the role of racial equity in promoting developmental health in communities of color.