A Message from Our Founder…
The horrendous murder of George Floyd shocked and upset people of all ages around the globe. Mr. Floyd’s death has ignited a fire in people who want to see the kind of changes that I hope will make “existing while Black” an opportunity for young Black people to stumble, fall and get back up to build stable lives instead of being the death sentence it’s been for so many Black people like Mr. Floyd, Emmett Till and Aiyana Jones. I never thought I’d have a fear of doing everyday normal things like sleeping in my bed like Breonna Taylor, or going for a run like Ahmad Aubrey. I’ve been so excited about getting my driver’s permit and wanting to drive but honestly, I’m concerned about getting stopped by the wrong police officer at the wrong time like Sandra Bland, even if I obey all the laws. These people were living their everyday lives and died unjustly at the hands of police.
As the founder of a nonprofit organization with a mission of bringing happiness and swift solutions to some of America’s most vulnerable youth – specifically, homeless, sick and foster youth – I am disgusted by the racial hatred that’s prevalent in American society. Black youth, especially those who aged-out of foster care and who are now homeless, face multi-faceted burdens that my organization barely touches with toiletries kits or Eggstra Special Easter Bags-kits. The percent of the foster care population in Maryland that is Black is two or more times the percent of the overall child population that is Black. And while a small percent – 18,000 – of the 435,000 children in America’s foster care system aged out of foster care without being connected to a permanent family, what worries me is that these youth are more likely than youth in the general population to experience homelessness, unemployment and incarceration as adults. Within this “small percentage” is still a disproportionately huge number of Black children. According to national trends, those youth are at risk of coming face-to-face with police officers they fear and distrust because of the history of gruesome, heartless brutality and lack of decency that’s let criminal cop behavior go unchecked.
I’m also concerned about street children, the youth who don’t have secure or steady homes and live on the streets for many reasons. On a single night in 2019, roughly 568,000 people were experiencing homelessness in the United States; 35,000 of them were people under the age of 25 experiencing homelessness on their own. Half of these ‘unaccompanied youth’ lived ‘unsheltered’ or on the street, in parks or in vehicles. Trends showed higher counts of Black youth in shelters and on the streets. Living without stable housing is dangerous in and of itself. I can’t help but worry about black youth who live on the streets and who are simply trying to survive, and their chances of coming face-to-face with bad cops based on false accusations from a suspicious racist. No child should have to fear being killed because of their race. No child should have to worry about being criminalized because they have no place to call home. Even as a 15-year-old child advocate, I feel like I could do more. I believe I can do more.
From social media campaigns to street protests, we see generations of people, corporate CEOs and national celebrities drawing boundary lines; it’s not black versus white. Now more than ever its everyone versus racists and those who are silent get dragged into a side whether they like it or not. So, let me be clear about where I stand: Black lives matter. Black children’s lives matter. Black homeless youth lives matter. Black foster care youth lives matter. Their lives matter so much that I’m pledging $8,460 to be dispersed over the next four years for rapid rehousing, mental health services, educational and vocational counseling and emergency services to Maryland-based nonprofits with proven records of servicing mostly Black homeless youth, and Black foster youth who are aging out or have aged out of the foster care system. I will make my first pledged payment the week of October 14, 2020, which is Mr. Floyd’s birth date, and I look forward to spending the next few months learning about nonprofits eligible to receive my first donation.
We all have work to do. I’m committed to continuing to do my part. I invite you to join me.
Grace E. G. Callwood
Founder, We Cancerve Movement, Inc.