5 Recommendations for Allies Who Want to “Do the Work” During Black History Month

February, Black History Month, is a time when we honor and recognize the accomplishments and history of Black Americans.

How can those of us who are not Black, but who strive to be allies to this community, meaningfully and respectfully celebrate Black history? As CPS Disproportionality Manager Tanya Rollins put it in our CASA on the Go podcast: do the work!

“People of color cannot always be the ones doing the teaching. There is work to be done, and we live in a society where the resources are overwhelming—and if you want to do the work, you can do the work!”

Wherever you may be on your journey, we’ve compiled a few suggestions for self-guided learning during this important month.

Book: Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Professor Ibram X. Kendi

In this deeply researched, in-depth narrative, Professor Kendi presents an exhaustive history of how and why racist ideas were introduced in America, how they’ve evolved with the times and why they still have power today. He structures the narrative around five American intellectuals—Puritan minister Cotton Mather, Thomas Jefferson, abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, W.E.B. Du Bois, and legendary activist Angela Davis—highlighting both racist and anti-racist thinking and actions along the way.

Book: White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo

This book examines the defensiveness, anger, fear and guilt white people can have when confronted or challenged racially. Written by a white woman, it’s a relatively quick read and solid foundation that prompts meaningful self-reflection on the biases many people may hold, but don’t always find easy to admit or change. The book offers concrete strategies to become comfortable talking about race.

Podcast: CASA on the Go – Understanding and Undoing Disproportionality with Tanya Rollins, Part 1 and Part 2

Tanya Rollins, CPS Disproportionality Manager with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, shares her expertise around disproportionality in the Texas child welfare system and discusses what CASA advocates can do to eliminate it. In part two, Tanya dives deeper into how CASA volunteers can practice culturally responsive advocacy for children and families.

Video: The Trauma of Family Separation – Dr. Jessica Pryce for our 2020 Distinguished Speaker Series

Dr. Pryce is an Assistant Professor at Florida State University and currently the Executive Director of the Florida Institute for Child Welfare. In her Distinguished Speaker Series video, Dr. Pryce discusses the trauma of child separation, dives into the racist history of the U.S. child welfare system and proposes an innovative systems change, called blind removals, that has been improving equity in other states. She also joined Texas CASA CEO Vicki Spriggs for a live Q&A after the episode aired, which you can watch here.

Article: 5 Trailblazing Black Women in Child Welfare You Should Know – The CASA Voice

You’ve probably heard of the famous abolitionist Frederick Douglass, but what about his granddaughter Fredericka Douglass Sprague Perry? Learn about Fredericka and four other phenomenal Black women—Carrie Steele Logan, Janie Porter Barrett, Dorothy Pitman Hughes and Marian Wright Edelman—all of whom have changed the landscape of child welfare.