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Taking Time for Our Collective Pain

May 31, 2022

Dear NJJN community, 

We are devastated, angry, hurt, and still processing all our feelings from the recent tragedies in Buffalo, Orange County, and Uvalde. As mothers, trained social workers, and activists we know we must hold our grief and the grief of the families who lost their loved ones in these tragic incidents. Not only today, but for the years to come as we all cope with the traumatic events and the conditions that allowed and continue to allow these events to transpire. 

In these moments, we often feel a sense of urgency pressured by white supremacy culture to jump into action without first processing our emotions and the trauma that we hold. We encourage you to acknowledge and respond to the emotions that arise from these events in the ways best for you. This might be taking a moment for yourself, sharing thoughts and feelings with loved ones, crying, screaming, or moving. Feel, release, and question your emotions and what/who they are serving.

With our grief and pain, we also know that this is a critical moment to address the toxic white supremacy culture that has deprioritized community investment and healing, choosing instead to prioritize punishment, creating conditions for violence and encouraging us to accept violence as ordinary. In a separate article on “Responding to Tragedy,” we address work to deconstruct white supremacy culture in more detail. In this moment, we reaffirm our communities’ calls for deep investments in healing through mental health support systems, access to healthcare, quality schools, and aftercare. 

Proposals to increase security in schools by doubling down on investments in police, locks, metal detectors, and other carceral structures are already circulating. We want to be clear, these solutions do not work, and only serve to harm the very children we aim to protect.

As advocates we are committed to a world where children, specifically Black and Brown children, are celebrated, where their interests are cultivated, their accomplishments lauded, and where a vibrant future awaits them. Let us all take a deep breath, some time to grieve, and then let our collective pain fuel our pursuit of justice for our children and communities. 

In Community, 
Alyson Clements & Tracey Tucker
Co-Executive Directors
National Juvenile Justice Network

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