FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Media Contact – Rashena Flagg, 713.301.4577
STATEMENT FROM THE TEXAS FAMILY LEADERSHIP COUNCIL ON COVID-19 AND SYSTEMIC RACISM
The senseless killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and too many others, have garnered immense public out-cry, and brought new attention to the historic injustices and systemic racism that permeate our public systems and policies. At the same time, the coronavirus pandemic has accentuated racial disparities across all facets of our society. As Texas educators, health professionals, childcare providers, service providers, and advocates for children and their families, we mourn. Our hearts ache not just for the lives taken through recent acts of police violence, but for the families of color disproportionally torn apart by COVID-19, and hundreds of years of children impeded from reaching their full potential.
As members of the Texas Family Leadership Council (child-serving organizations from across the state), we commit to doing more than mourning. We promise to look inward. To bring an equity lens to everything we do, from the tables we assemble to the policies we advocate for, we can and will do better. As we strive to model anti-racist leadership across the state, we also demand our public officials and state leaders do the same. Now is not the time for empty platitudes or partisan bickering. The children of Texas are counting on you to craft policies and enact laws that don’t just acknowledge racial disparities but turn the tides to peace and equality. Below are just a few places Texas leaders should start:
• Just as he assembled experts in child care and economic recovery to address disruptions caused by COVID-19, we ask Governor Abbott to immediately authorize a Taskforce on Racial Equity and Children and Families.
• In order to target and properly tackle inequities, Texas must improve its data collection and reporting practices to provide greater transparency. Beyond better data reporting disaggregated by race and ethnicity, the Office of Minority Health Statistics and Engagement that was dissolved by Texas legislators in 2017 should be re-instated with an appropriate budget to operate effectively.
• With a better understanding of the state’s needs, Texas lawmakers must acknowledge the inequities communities of color are facing in this pandemic and work to provide effective protection for vulnerable populations on the frontline. Testing sites should be re-allocated to the neighborhoods most likely to house essential workers serving on our frontlines and putting their lives at risk. All COVID-19 related care should be free to all in need, regardless of their income or documentation.
• Texas lawmakers should make greater investments in mental health. Despite increases sparked in the wake of mass shootings last legislative session, Texas still ranks 51st in the nation in access to care. The extended trauma of COVID-19 and the repeated and widely reported incidents of racially motivated violence mean Texans will need mental health support more than ever.
• Equity audits should be mandated for all Texas schools. Before COVID-19 our public schools were inequitably funded, under-resourced, and rapidly re-segregating. After COVID-19, we know a disproportionate number of minority families lack the tools or supports they need to learn from a distance.
We know the policies recommended above are just a start. The pain and disparities illuminated over these past weeks are not the result of a hurricane. They aren’t new or temporary set-backs that can be passed off on just this pandemic. No, today’s injustices stem from this country’s history of racial injustice. We must acknowledge that history, but we do not have to be surmounted by it. Just as Texas leaders have mobilized together to support families through natural disasters and epidemics, so must we work together to dismantle these racist policies and practices head on. We need to stop asking our children to be resilient, in the wake of tragedies we have the power to prevent.
There is work to be done. We hope you join us … for children.
The Texas Family Leadership Council:
Boys & Girls Club of Greater Houston
Catholic Charities Dallas
Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston
Centro De Salud Familiar La Fe, Inc.
Centro San Vicente Family Health Center
CHILDREN AT RISK
Chinese Community Center
Collaborative for Children
Communities in Schools Southeast Harris and Brazoria County
Doctors for Change
El Paso Center for Children, Inc.
El Paso Child Guidance Center
El Paso Diabetes Association Inc.
Girl Scouts of Texas Oklahoma Plains
Girl Scouts of the Desert Southwest –Southern New Mexico & West Texas, Inc
Haven for Hope of Bexar County
Houston Food Bank
Janet Pozmantier, M.S., LPC, LMFT
Kids in Need of Defense (KIND)
Mental Health America of Greater Houston
Mental Health America of Southeast Texas
Save the Children
Tahirih Justice Center
Texas Association for the Education of Young Children
Texas Doctors for Social Responsibility
TexProtects/Prevent Child Abuse Texas
The Immunization Partnership
United Way of El Paso County
United Way for Greater Austin
United Way of Metropolitan Dallas
United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County
United Way of Southern Cameron County
United Way of Tarrant County
YMCA of Greater Houston
YWCA El Paso del Norte Region
Powered by CHILDREN AT RISK, the Texas Family Leadership Council (TXFLC) is a coalition of child-focused organizations, community leaders, and influencers from across the state. Together, we work to ensure Texas policies that support families are effective and equitable for our most vulnerable children.