True Colors United is proud to launch our Racial Equity Toolkit – for the youth homelessness movement and beyond.
“You have to act as if it were possible to radically transform the world. And you have to do it all the time.” – Angela Davis
True Colors United takes an intersectional approach to racial equity and believes that racial equity is directly tied to undoing anti-Blackness and dismantling white supremacy. We know that race, class, gender, sexuality, ability, and documentation status, in addition to other forms of oppression, are inextricably linked. We believe that rectifying inequities faced by the most marginalized will make the world a better place for everyone. We’re proud today to launch our new Racial Equity Toolkit!
We developed this toolkit through the specific lens of youth homelessness in America, which has a long history of racism that has led to wide-ranging consequences for young people. However, we believe that the topics and concepts covered in this toolkit can apply to all individuals from all sectors, because no American system or institution is exempt from its history of racial inequity.
How it came together.
Work on this toolkit began in the second half of 2020, when the nation was reeling from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the widespread uprisings sparked by the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Job losses from COVID-19 sparked national conversation around housing, leading to the passing of progressive housing policies to ensure people were not evicted from their homes. The #cancelrent movement advocates for expanding eviction moratoriums and mortgage suspension to include the cancellation of rent collection in these times. These movements have inspired new conversations around housing as a human right.
At the same time, the youth homelessness movement at large has been moving towards a reckoning. Stakeholders demanded that movement leaders take stock of their role in perpetuating system-wide inequities and be held accountable for the degree to which they centered anti-racism. Anti-racism is a process, a systematic method of analysis, and a proactive course of action rooted in the recognition of the existence of systemic racism. Anti-racism actively seeks to identify, remove, prevent, and mitigate racially inequitable outcomes and power imbalances between groups and change the structures that sustain inequities. This toolkit is our contribution to these conversations, and we hope that users will gain the baseline understanding and vocabulary needed to effectively advance racial equity within their own organizations.
True Colors United as an organization had also been moving towards broadening the scope of our work to include not just LGBTQ young people, but all marginalized youth. This required an intersectional understanding of anti-racism and recommitting ourselves to centering the voices, experiences, and expertise of Black queer, specifically trans, people. But before providing organizations with racial equity technical assistance, we felt there was work to be done internally.
Our organizational racial equity journey began with a series of all-day, all-staff trainings and grew to encompass a Racial Equity Workgroup and caucuses for Black and POC staff, white staff, and non-Black staff. The vision statement of our Racial Equity workgroup is:
“True Colors United envisions a world where all young people have complete economic and social freedom, and no longer experience homelessness, poverty, racism, heterosexism, cisgenderism, or any other form of systemic oppression.”
Our work was guided and facilitated by outside consultants who had extensive experience leading racial equity training for organizations within the youth homelessness movement. This toolkit is the result of a concerted, years-long internal effort to meaningfully live the values we champion to others. This is our first external-facing resource on the subject. Above all, we hope that this toolkit is a starting point for you and your organization, rather than a signal that you have crossed the finish line.