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Oregon Commission on Black Affairs Annual Report 2010
To the Governor and the Honorable Members of the Oregon Legislative Assembly:
The Oregon Commission on Black Affairs recognizes that all families desire to protect and foster their children’s well-being. We also acknowledge that all children, including African-American children, thrive when they have a sense of connection to others; safe places to grow, learn, and play; and community institutions rich with cultural and social resources that foster a strong identity and sense-of-self based on shared values. The resiliency of African-American families has been attributed to many factors including, as Dr. Robert Hill finds, ―strong kinship bonds, strong achievement orientation, and strong work roles.‖ Drawing on and from these strengths, the Commission is striving to create opportunities to engage individuals, institutions, and governments in addressing key issues facing African-American families in Oregon. The 2010 annual report summarizes the Commission’s activities in the past year relating to social, educational, economical, and political issues affecting African American families throughout Oregon.
Parents morally and socially hold the primary responsibility for rearing children. As a result of changing economic, employment, and social factors, African-American relatives and extended family members are increasingly assuming the primary caregiver role. Strong kinship bonds and shared responsibility is a central reason that more African-American children are living in kinship foster care arrangements than other racial-ethnic groups. While these arrangements provide love and care, they are not ideal for children. Whenever possible this should be provided in the context of their natural family, which is why the Commission is collaborating with state agencies to advocate for reunifying children in foster care with their birth parents. This requires a continued reorganization of the state’s child welfare system to allocate resources that support foster parents, child welfare professionals, and court personnel to achieve this permanency outcome.
African-Americans have always believed that education provides an opportunity to improve one’s condition in life and to improve the social fabric of society. For the past 100 years, each generation of African-Americans has been more educated than the previous. As a result, African-Americans have experienced greater health and economic well-being. However, in the 21st century, this may no longer be true. In 2007, African-Americans are more likely to attend schools that are under-funded, unsafe, and staffed with unprepared teachers. All of these factors have contributed to disparities in academic performance between African-Americans and other racial-ethnic groups. The education achievement gap between African-Americans and whites not only guarantees that African-American children will be left behind in a global economy, but that they will continue in a downward spiral of poverty, single parenthood, social isolation, and will be denied access to a quality life. Education is the primary way out of poverty for African-Americans. Moreover, with education come connections and relationships that can be drawn on to build strong community institutions and social networks that sustain businesses and economic development. In the absence of a national school system, Oregon must develop and fund a school system that ensures equality and quality in our schools.
The Oregon Commission on Black Affairs is collaborating with African-American leaders throughout the state to identify how government can better collaborate with community, faith-based, and civic organizations to invest in models, programs, and strategies that improve the quality of life of African-Americans in the state. We urge the Governor and Legislative Assembly to act in concert with public policy, education, business, and faith leaders to address the education, economic, health, and social well-being of African-American families and children in Oregon.
OCBA Annual Report 2010