Black Lives Matter! A rallying cry to address the unjustifiable killing of people of color and the public’s disregard and avoidance of the reasons this issue remains rooted in our society. Media outlets are primarily reporting on police brutality, as they should; however systemic racism is pervasive in all American institutions, including child welfare. Every institutional encounter places the Black family at risk of separation. From public school teachers, medical staff, public housing, social services and the police, Black families cannot avoid scrutiny nor find relief or justice.
My niece has been in foster care in Erie County, NY for five years and will now be adopted by non-relatives. In violation of our family’s rights, I was never notified by the child welfare system that she was in care.
My niece’s removal to foster care was a direct outcome of the ramifications of slavery and institutional racism. This statement may sound alarmist; however, my niece is only six generations removed from slavery, two generations removed from Jim Crow, and is a third generation experiencing the disruption of our family by the child welfare system.