A Message from Next Step
In times like these, silence is harmful. It causes experiences of people of color and marginalized communities everywhere to become invisible once again. It denies their lived realities and places the burden of change solely on their shoulders. We cannot do this and we cannot be silent today. We stand with Black America. The unjust murders of George Floyd, Ahmad Arbery, and Breonna Taylor are only the most recent evidence of the ways in which a long history of systemic violence and racism in this country have disproportionally impacted black and brown communities.
At Next Step our participants are not just young people living with a chronic illness, many of them are black and brown young people living with a chronic illness. This detail is important because it acknowledges that their interactions with police, their medical care, and educational systems in America are different. We’ve heard far too many stories from our black and brown youth about unfair treatment in the community, emergency rooms and in the healthcare system, and lack of support within the educational system. Our young people often feel like they have to choose being silent about how they’ve been treated and go along “to get along” so they can get the care and support they need.
We all have a role to play in dismantling these entrenched systems of racism and oppression – it is everyone’s problem. What is truly unjust and immoral is to place the problem at the feet of those who are experiencing it and asking them to fix it. In our programs, Next Step will continue to do what we’ve always done over the past two decades – listen to our young people and believe them when they tell us their truths. We are committed to doing what we can to address systemic racism in all its forms. What’s next isn’t going to be easy. But we’re going to do our part. We won’t be silent.