One of the heroes that has had a deep impact on my thinking and values is Dr. Marian Wright Edelman. Her latest articles is entitled “Leaving the Little Ones Behind.”
Two important quotes from the article:
- When people talk about the “achievement gap” at-risk children face, they often think of it in terms that apply to school-age children — but that gap can start much earlier than most people might guess. A recent report by the nonprofit, nonpartisan research group Child Trends showed that disparities actually begin appearing before children’s first birthdays.
- Child Trends notes these findings have the potential to have widespread implications. Poverty was the most prevalent risk factor in the study, and they point out that nearly half of all American infants and toddlers live in families with incomes below 200 percent of the poverty level at nine and 24 months of age. Of these children, they note that 89 percent of infants and 88 percent of toddlers have other risk factors in addition to being poor — and the more risk factors a child has, the wider the disparities across outcomes.
Four suggestions the articles gives to combat this:
- The first is that we should acknowledge that if differences in development can already be detected as early as nine and 24 months, interventions also need to start as early as infancy.
- Second, because income was the most prevalent risk factor, we should address poverty’s threat head-on and make children in low-income households the main targets of early interventions designed to improve children’s health and well-being.
- Third, we should engage and support parents of at-risk infants and toddlers through parental education.
- Fourth, we should improve the quality of early care settings.
The conclusion of the article: if a price tag could be put on future workforce productivity in our country, the growing number of children in poverty is very expensive.
That is true at a financial level, but it is infinitely more true from a moral and spiritual level.
I am a lifelong Chicagoan, a pastor at River City Community Church, and an author who writes a lot about resisting and confronting white supremacy from a faith lens.
Our church was founded in January of 2003 in the west Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago, and is centered on the core values of worship, reconciliation, and neighborhood development. We long to see increased spiritual renewal as well as social and economic justice in the Humboldt Park neighborhood and entire city, demonstrating compassion and alleviating poverty as tangible expressions of the Kingdom of God. It is also through the gift of this faith community that I have learned to see the profound historical and spiritual impact of the stronghold of white supremacy, and where I have been challenged to broaden and deepen my understanding of discipleship in the hopes of becoming a serious enough Christ follower who is able to meaningfully participate with those who have risen up in defiance of this evil principality.
The lessons learned in this journey have been captured in a pair of books on race. The first, White Awake, explores the barriers that white people tend to face – white Christians specifically – when we attempt to awaken to and understand white supremacy through a faith lens. I spend a lot of time here addressing the internal defenses that are bound to go off when this journey is taken seriously, and I chart out a path for developing a resilient spirit that steadfastly moves towards truth, justice, and equity. The second, White Lies, further builds out the path for the white Christian who longs to actively participate in the resistance and confrontation of white supremacy. I spend a lot of time here exploring why it is so hard to tell the truth about race, as well as expose the lies that sustain it, within white, Christian, Bible-believing environments. I then propose nine practices that position us for engaging in this task.
On the personal front, my career started in the marketplace, as I was part of three dot.com startups in the 90’s. My vocational path shifted when I joined the staff of Willow Creek Community Church in 1998, and I spent five years working there. I started River City Community Church in January 2003 and have been happily serving here ever since. On the education front, my undergrad was in Business (Purdue University), my graduate degree in theology (Moody Bible Institute), and my doctoral degree in community development (Northern Seminary). On the family front, my wife is a Professor of Psychology, and we have two amazing children (Xander and Gabriella).
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