A Season of Crisis

Chapin Hall on race, health, justice and our collective commitment to transforming systems

We are living in an unprecedented time. A season of crisis has upended the way we work, the way we live, and the way we think and feel about each other. Racially motivated murders, compounded by a global pandemic with disturbing racial disparities, have once again heightened awareness of inequity and injustice in our nation. Chapin Hall joins countless others in the commitment to move beyond awareness to action.

The first step is to admit that we live in a world where—over a period of 400 years—people of privilege formulated and implemented racist policies. While some in power made attempts at change, others stood by complacently while racist policies and practices took hold and were institutionalized across our public systems.

At Chapin Hall, we work to support transformation of public systems. But we, like most, have not gone far enough in holding ourselves and our partners to principles of equity and justice. Pursuing policy research through a race equity lens requires change in the way we think about our work and a shift in our thinking about what it means to be an “expert.”

Chapin Hall commits to digging deep and partnering with all stakeholders to document the impact of racially biased laws, rules, and practices in efforts to make intentional and real change. We will follow the lead of organizations that have been working to fight systemic racism and allow their analysis to guide our work. We will also challenge ourselves and our partners to be vigilant about how we leverage data produced by systems steeped in institutional biases—including the information we collect, from whom we collect it, how we collect it, from what perspective we make meaning of it, and for what benefit/goal analysis is used.

We must also acknowledge the impact of deep interpersonal trauma endured by Black Americans over the same 400 years. The trauma is incalculable and produces a range of consequences—from withdrawal to sadness to anger. We can see all of these responses in our communities incited by the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and too many others.

Disrupting the cycle of trauma will require transformation of public systems like early childhood, mental health, child protection, criminal justice, and education in order to address inequities that begin at birth and shape each child’s life. This includes the equitable allocation of funding to systems that provide care in lieu of funding for those that have penalized and brutalized the Black population. For real change to occur, American society needs public systems that pre-empt crisis and promote well-being of Black families and children.

If our professional contribution seems challenging, the personal challenges are even more daunting. Productive engagement will also benefit from the developmental perspective that informs our understanding of the impact of trauma. Some individuals and leaders have embraced action while others are in the infancy of their recognition of the problem and its sources. Acknowledging that each of us is at a different point along a continuum can help us understand what is needed to harness the energy of this moment and direct it toward solutions.

With all of this in mind, Chapin Hall is committed to working toward solutions at every level. We are committed to shaping a just and equitable society, promoting personal growth among our staff, and working toward policy changes that protect and promote the interests of people of color. This includes the way we work with our partners to examine and implement national policies, support local change efforts in our city and surrounding community, and engage with each other professionally and personally as an organization and as individuals. We are hopeful as we increase and enhance our active participation in the transformational work ahead.