Written by CORRAL Program Director Camille Brown
There’s a version of Monopoly I’ve seen played at different universities. Often played in sociology or social work classes, the game can be set up in a few different ways. Sometimes, particular students aren’t allowed to collect $200 when they pass Go. In other scenarios, some students are not allowed to buy property until everyone has had five turns. Whatever setup the professor uses, the goal is the same: to teach students how oppressed populations are impacted by systems working against them.
Most days I feel immeasurably blessed by my work at CORRAL. I love spending time with the girls and getting to see them blossom into who they were really meant to be. But sometimes? Sometimes I am tired. Forget not getting to collect $200 when they pass Go. Sometimes, our girls aren’t even allowed to play the same game as everyone else.
Now we find ourselves in the middle of an international crisis, and the disparities felt by our girls are even more apparent. Before COVID-19, we were able to piece together enough access to technology to lessen the impact of The Digital Divide for our girls. Now their entire education depends on access to the internet. Here are just a few stories of how our families have struggled to help their children access their education:
- Spectrum refuses to provide internet to an entire apartment complex because of something that happened years before the family moved in (we were not able to get any details from Spectrum on what exactly the incident was.)
- A social worker at one of our girl’s schools has rescheduled their meeting to set up a hot spot twice this week. School started almost 10 days ago. Schools are understaffed and under-resourced. We do not see this as a failure of the social worker so much as a failure for the system to be organized and unified in its efforts to provide internet to families.
- Girls aren’t able to find a quiet space to do school work because there are not enough rooms for all the people in their family.
- Parents feel unequipped to support their children with schoolwork because they, too, were not given equal access to education.
- Single parents are at work all day because they are the backbone of our society: cashiers, postal workers, nurses, and childcare providers.
CORRAL is working hard to fill in these gaps. We work alongside our families to provide the opportunities and access that our girls have been denied. Since COVID-19 started, we have been working to adapt our programs to keep our girls safe while still providing the resources they need to be successful. This has included a lot of tele-health services, virtual study halls, and grocery deliveries. We are providing access to the internet and laptops. Zoom lunch calls allow our girls to remain connected.
Though we aren’t together physically, this time has been rich with support and kindness among our volunteers and donors. The outpouring of love from our community has been an incredible gift. There have been grocery gift cards, deliveries of school work, check-ins with girls, tire changes, virtual equine therapy, donations to keep our staff supported, weekly prayers…the list goes on. There are no words to describe the extraordinary humans that work alongside us at CORRAL.
One of our CORRAL’s core beliefs, and the reason we exist, is because “we believe anything that has been broken can be made whole again.” We hold a fierce and profound hope that one day, the systems in our country will be made whole. That they will support our families instead of working against them. We also know that all the grocery deliveries in the world won’t change systems of oppression. How do we even the playing field for populations like our girls and their families?
I think it’s important for us to consider where we stand in the world. Instead of calling people out, it’s my belief that we should call people in. I am a white, cisgender, Christian female who makes a live-able wage. So that’s who I’m calling in today. If that describes you, I’d like to offer some gentle encouragement for you to look around at your own life. How is the system working for you and not others? And what can you do to make a change? As part of my encouragement, I’d like to offer that it’s time to move past defensiveness and guilt. This work is going to require a collective effort bigger than us as individuals, and we can’t do it without you.
Here is a list of resources to get started:
- “The Groundwater Approach: building a practical understanding of structural racism” written by Bayard Love and Deena Hayes-Greene of the Racial Equity Institute
- The Racial Justice Assessment Tool for use at your organization
- Dates for upcoming REI Trainings in the Triangle (ROAR does offer limited full and partial scholarships for their programs)
- “I’m Still Here” by Austin Channing Brown
- “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander
- “The Warmth of Other Suns” by Isabel Wilkerson
- Waiting for Superman