12.17.2014 | As the year comes to a close, we want to take this moment to thank all of you for your partnership and support. We are truly privileged to devote our professional lives to work that has a profound impact on the futures of low-income children and families.
The past year included the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education – a reminder of our highest aspirations – as well as the killings of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and Eric Garner – reminders of how far away those aspirations remain.
We work at AFC because we believe in a better future for the children we serve. Sadly, for many young people, school does not provide the road to equal opportunity that the Brown Court envisioned. Black and Latino children here in New York City have higher rates of suspension, higher rates of being labeled “emotionally disturbed,” and lower rates of admission to the City’s most coveted public schools. Those of our clients who are students of color often find that their actions are reflexively viewed with suspicion and distrust that their White peers seldom have to confront.
Just the other day, one of our clients, Orlando, received a summons as he entered the subway on the way home from his last class. Orlando is 20 years old and has significant speech impairments. School is a struggle for him, but he is sticking with it, striving to graduate. The police stopped and ticketed him for using a student Metrocard, wrongly assuming that he was too old to go to school and must have stolen the card. Having never been in trouble with the law before, Orlando arrived home quite shaken. Though he did nothing wrong, he now has to miss school to defend himself in court, or risk a warrant being issued for his arrest.
Too many young people, like Orlando, carry the additional burden of facing down negative assumptions about their abilities and their behavior as they come of age in New York City and pursue their education. They need the support of adults who see their potential and advocate for them to surmount the many obstacles that stand in their way.
Thank you for joining us in the work that we do, in making sure that the children and youth we serve know they’ve got someone in their corner – that their lives matter.