I can't breathe, a call for dialogue and action

by Bill Allen, Ruben Anguiano, Abraham Hwang, Anthony James, Kate Kuvalanka, Christi McGeorge, Ambika Krishnakumar, Soyoung Lee, Karen Seccombe, Sandra Stith
NCFR Report

The recent incidents in Ferguson, Missouri (USA), Staten Island, New York (USA), and Cleveland, Ohio (USA), among others, have brought national and global attention to a reality that exists in the United States: The unequal and unjust treatment of individuals and families of color in America. Although some want to avoid addressing this reality, the police killings of unarmed black men and boys, such as Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice, along with the absence of grand jury indictments in at least two of these cases, shine a spotlight on its existence. It is in this context that we are prompted to reach out to the NCFR membership to engage in this international dialogue.

We assert that it is our responsibility as family researchers, educators, and practitioners to not shy away from these truly difficult topics of discussion (e.g., racism, discrimination, police brutality, bullying, immigration, etc.) with our students, our clients, our colleagues, and our own families and friends. We have a responsibility to the families we research and serve to continually engage in these difficult, yet important, dialogues to shine light on the injustices that exist--even after the attention of the media fades, even when the discussions are hard and the feelings of hopelessness make us question whether racial justice and equality will ever be truly achieved. Indeed, this is when it becomes most important. Finally, as the preeminent organization for research and practice concerning families, NCFR is poised to engage in and promote dialogue and processes that can help spur changes in policy at the local, state, and national levels that can result in all families being protected and valued.

We would like to call for an inclusive, reflective, and productive dialogue that "provides an educational forum for family researchers, educators, and practitioners to . . . work to promote family well-being," as stated in NCFR's mission statement. As committees of NCFR, sections of NCFR, elected officers of NCFR, and individual members of NCFR, please share your professional and personal insights on these matters. What conversations are you having about these topics? How do these incidents impact you and your families? How have these events influenced your work--in your classrooms, in your research, in your various professional settings? We also call for action. We urge all of us to strategize our scholarship, classroom activities, and/or professional practices in order to take advantage of the "teachable moment" afforded by these frustratingly tragic events. What role can we play in changing this lived reality for families, for our students, and for ourselves? What can and should we do, both personally and professionally, to make our society more just and safe for all Americans? We want to hear from the NCFR membership. Please consider sharing your thoughts and action strategies via the IDC webform.

Incidentally, our 2015 conference theme is Conflict, Violence and War: Family Risks and Resilience. Vancouver will be a great place to continue our global conversations pertaining to supporting families against social injustice and our roles as family researchers, educators, and practitioners. For more information about how members of other organizations, such as SRA and APA, have addressed these issues, see:

This article was submitted and signed by the following members:

Bill Allen
Ruben Anguiano
Abraham Hwang
Anthony James
Kate Kuvalanka
Christi McGeorge
Ambika Krishnakumar
Soyoung Lee
Karen Seccombe
Sandra Stith