We feel it is time to speak directly about racism, white supremacy, and the structural injustices from the perspective of the Boat Shop where the devastating impacts of these insidious practices are felt by our Black and Brown young people, staff, and volunteers every day. It hurts them in myriad spirit-crushing ways. It’s time to use our position and experience to affirm that Black Lives Matter, that the legacy of White Supremacy must be destroyed, and that we believe this work starts here with us. We are responsible for bringing an end to the reign of planned inequity and disgraceful systems of disdain for the worth of a human being based on the color of their skin.
From its earliest days, the Tacoma Boat Builders’ community has borne witness to the impacts of systemic racial injustice on the youth we serve. Their experience as Black and Brown youth is not like the experience of their white peers. We see for ourselves that Black and Brown youth are disciplined more often and more severely in their schools and by the justice system than their white counterparts (1). Even with the transformational work that’s being done to reform the juvenile justice system here (2), an ugly truth persists in Pierce County right now. Black and Brown students have been subjected to racially biased disciplinary action in their schools for years (3).
Black and Brown youth are perceived as bigger, older, stronger, more menacing, and more problematic than their white peers. With police right there in the schools, young people experience a system designed to pull them straight into the juvenile justice system.
Imagine living every day knowing that the color of your skin makes you more than twice as likely to be disciplined than a white peer, and then, to be disciplined more severely (4).
We’ve had it with being polite about racism and white supremacy and their impacts on our youth, staff, colleagues, and friends in the community. We’re tired of being careful not to offend folks who don’t understand. We’re hopeful that you will take courage and take a stand on behalf of Black Lives right alongside us.
If you remain unsure about the facts, here’s a good place to start: Mapping Police Violence See the references below too, please!
The Tacoma Boat Builders community has been and remains committed to doing our part. Together with our partners, we will dig deeper to recognize the ways that implicit bias and structural racism impact our work with each other and with our youth. We will continue to listen to thought leaders in our Black and other Communities of Color and to take action to correct for our own mistakes. We will work tirelessly to build a racially just community within our own organization and from there, the ripples will follow out in to the wider community.
Tacoma Boat Builders joins the call to put an end to police brutality and the failure to hold accountable those who enact these crimes against humanity. Further, it must be understood that children need support in their schools, not a police state. Public funding should be spent on services that support people, not on forcing compliance with unfair policies. Systems-level change is fundamental to building a world that is safe and just for all Black and Brown people. Law enforcement does not belong in the schools and has been shown to have a detrimental effect on youth. (5)
To the community we serve: We are here to listen, learn, and work together with you to support each other now and in the future.
To our supporters: We challenge you to stand by our young people and to join us in working on behalf of OUR YOUNG PEOPLE and all People of Color to build a world where everyone has a fair and safe opportunity to live.
Join us in taking action. Here are some resources to help you get started. Action starts at home.
Thank you to Black Lives Matters @https://blacklivesmatter.com/whatmatters/ for the visual resource used in our header.
(1) Riddle, T., & Sinclair, S. (2019). Racial disparities in school-based disciplinary actions are associated with county-level rates of racial bias. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 116(17), 8255-8260. Retrieved from https://www.pnas.org/content/116/17/8255
(2) Annie E. Casey Foundation. (2018, May 28). Pierce County: Trailblazer for probation transformation [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.aecf.org/blog/pierce-county-trailblazer-for-probation-transformation/
(3) Cafazzo, D. (2015, June 07). New state data on student discipline sheds light on racial disparities. The News Tribune. Retrieved from https://www.thenewstribune.com/news/local/education/article26297830.html
(4) American Psychological Association. (2014, February 24). Black Boys Viewed as Older, Less Innocent Than Whites, Research Finds [Summary on the article The essence of innocence: Consequences of dehumanizing black children, by Goff, P. A., Jackson, M. C., Lewis Di Lione, B. A., Culotta, C. M., & DiTomasso, N. A.]. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2014/03/black-boys-older
(5) “When Schools Increase Police Presence, Minority Students Are Harmed Disproportionately,” Jack Denton, https://psmag.com/education/after-parkland-schools-upped-police-presence-has-it-made-students-safer@