The murder of George Floyd, an unarmed African-American, at the hands of Minneapolis police officers leaves us heartbroken but resolved. So many similar incidents have taken place for so many years in the United States and worldwide that an effective response requires radical social transformation to uproot deep systemic racism. We at the Childism Institute join with global protests calling for the dismantling of white supremacy and police brutality and the building up of inclusive societies in which Black lives truly matter.

Systemic racism impacts children and youth profoundly, perhaps even more than adults. Ideologies of childhood innocence have been used to uphold and legitimize racial injustice by idealizing the protections of white children while excluding Black children from the category of childhood. Young people worldwide confront structures of racism on the playground, in school, via media, and in larger culture. They receive resources for education, health, and well-being according to the color of their skin. They absorb and are both excluded by and participate in structures of white privilege. They are also leaders in struggles to resist and protest against racial discrimination in every area of their lives.

We therefore affirm that the struggle against adultism is intimately bound up with the struggle against racism. We recognize that children cannot be empowered without liberation from the deep historical structures of white supremacy. We affirm that the fight against antiblackness is crucial to challenging the idea that all children of color share the same lived experience. We believe that it is long past time to confront racial oppression with a global, broad-based movement for social justice. We follow the lead of Black youth activists and feminists who have long organized and continue to work tirelessly for justice. And we join in solidarity with indigenous, queer, Latinx, and people of color led movements against sexism, classism, colonialism, ableism, and other systemic injustices.

We call for the recognition of humanity’s fundamental interconnectedness and deep interdependency, a thorough critique of all systems of oppression, a rejection of violence and criminal law as tools of suppression, and the hopeful embrace of an inclusively empowered human community.

As a coalition of global child and youth scholars, we commit to critiquing antiblackness in our own work and institutions. Moving forward, we commit ourselves to the following actions as an Institute:

  • being intentional in our inclusion of Black scholars, activists, and young people in all of our initiatives;

  • working with Black-led youth and non-profits in the Institute’s immediate community of Camden, New Jersey to help develop its future plans and remunerating them for their time;

  • ensuring that our work on childism addresses as a top priority its many different connections with antiracism.

The Childism Institute
Rutgers University–Camden