Child Welfare with Justice as the Throughline, Part 1

Most of us are having uncomfortable conversations about racism these days. Join Janine Beaudry as she talks with Corey B. Best about the origins and impacts of white supremacy in our country, and how authentic connection and belonging can help us all see the malady for what it is and move toward healing.

Guest Info:

Cory B. Best is, foremost, a dedicated father. Originally from Washington DC, Corey now resides in Florida where he began consulting with organizations to leverage adaptive leadership and systems building to promote authentic family engagement, racial justice, and protective factors for those impacted by the child welfare system.

In 2020 Corey founded Mining For Gold, an organization seeking to shape new thinking within complex systems with the goal of rebuilding child and family serving systems that are responsive to sharing power among constituents with a laser focus on preventing and dismantling all forms of racism. With consistent goals, the VT-CWTP contracted with Mining For Gold in 2022.

Host Info:

Janine Beaudry, MSW has been working to support the safety and wellbeing of children and families for over 25 years. Previously a Family Services worker, then a Family Services supervisor, Janine is currently a Training & Coaching Team Lead with the Vermont Child Welfare Training Partnership.


Cassie Gillespie (00:00):

Hello, I’m Cassie Gillespie and you’re listening to Welcome to The Field, a podcast produced by the University of Vermont’s Child Welfare Training Partnership and the State of Vermont. Welcome to the Field is designed for child welfare workers, caregivers, and community partners. However, this season we have been talking all about uncomfortable conversations. So even if you’re not working or caregiving in the child welfare field, this season might be for you. On today’s episode, Janine Beaudry is talking with Corey B. Best about child welfare with justice as the through line. This episode is our season finale, but be prepared, it’s a cliffhanger. We’ll be back in a few months with more from Corey. Okay, I’ll pass it to Janine. Here we go.

Janine Beaudry (00:45):

Thanks, Cassie and hi everyone. I’m Janine Beaudry, a training and coaching team lead with the Vermont Child Welfare Training Partnership and I’m here to host what might be the last episode of Welcome to the Field. Don’t worry, our podcast will continue, but we’ll be changing our name. You are all in for such a treat. Today, I am so fortunate to be talking with Corey B. Best about child welfare with justice as the through line. Corey B. Best Is foremost a dedicated father originally from Washington DC, Corey now resides in Florida where he began his transformation into adaptive leadership training, systems building, authentic family engagement, racial justice, promoting protective factors, and highlighting quote unquote good enough parenting for those impacted by the child welfare system. In 2020, Corey founded Mining for Gold, an organization seeking to shape new thinking within complex systems with the goal of rebuilding child and family serving systems that are responsive to sharing power among constituents with a laser focus on preventing and dismantling all forms of racism.

Janine Beaudry (01:57):

And it was in 2022 that I experienced Corey speak about racial justice, liberation, and belonging in a jam-packed ballroom at a national conference, he connected to all of us, mostly white people working in human services fields, and enabled us to look squarely in the face of hundreds of years of racial violence and injustice, while feeling his love and invitation to join him in healing that gaping societal wound that hurts us all. Soon after the Vermont Child Welfare Training Partnership invited Corey and Mining for Gold to help guide our program to move forward in that healing process, one transformative anti-racist layer at a time. Without further ado, I’d like to welcome Corey B. Best and open our conversation about child welfare with justice as the through line. Welcome Corey, and thank you so much for joining me in this conversation today.

Corey B. Best (02:53):

Thank you for having me, Janine. It’s a pleasure to be with you, and I’m looking forward to what we discover together.

Janine Beaudry (02:59):

Thank you. I’d like to start with something striking that you said at that summer 2022 conference. Diversity, equity, and inclusion is where racial justice goes to die. , would you share more about what you meant?

Corey B. Best (03:15):

Absolutely. And, you know, history teaches us a lot about where we can go. Right Janine? And most recently, I’d say, let’s say the past decade or so, we have grappled or at least attempted to grapple with what might we do in our institutions to create a semblance of justice, a semblance of representation, right? Of people who are from quote unquote diverse population. So to start there, I’m often curious about what diversity even means and who the population is that’s quote unquote dominant or main or centered, right? And so if we begin there, we see that our institutions are predominantly driven and run by white or at least monocultural people, right? And the question that I have learned to ask from a, a different and mentor is when institutions say they want to experience or be consulted on DEI, the question you must ask is, what does diversity mean to that organization or that person?

Corey B. Best (04:42):

One. And the second question is, what must you or what are you diversifying from? So if we, if we sat there for a moment, Janine, and we’re talking about race, racism, monocultural, and we’re reluctant to say we’re diversifying from a white dominant Eurocentric perspective. And then you want to diversify into what, right? So many folks who invest, right? They have diverse portfolios, right? They may want to get from something to something, but in this particular work, we notice that what’s mainstay is that we wanna maintain white dominant culture within an institution, and we want to sprinkle a little speck of your otherness in that. So we want to hire a diversity equity and inclusion manager director who is 90%, if we look at the data today, 90% black and female to do the work of diversity. And what that often turns into is fried bread Friday, collard Green Wednesday, taco Tuesday , right?

Corey B. Best (06:01):

And, and, and so it’s not, it’s not starting from the basic premise that white bodies have been deemed the standard of measurement that, that all humans are measured against. And if you’re outside of that, then you’re deemed deviant, right? And so when we start there, we can really have a conversation about what does liberation justice and belonging look like within an institution? Or are you asking me to be included into a culture that’s not gonna change. A culture that only sees humans or worth or value from one perspective. Right? So in my, in my humble opinion, I say that it’s where anti-racism goes to die, and racial justice goes to die because we don’t get to the depths of the assault on the relationship, Janine, we don’t get to the depths of the trauma that we all carry. We don’t get to the depths of how to become mature enough to, to handle some of the charges that, that are associated with understanding the invention of race and racism.

Janine Beaudry (07:09):

Hmm. So we don’t wanna be equitably including diverse people into the same old culture. We want to be looking at the culture itself.

Corey B. Best (07:17):

Right. You want to, you want to, you want to challenge the culture and the ideology and what built that culture, right?

Janine Beaudry (07:22):

Yeah. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. So in your work with our program, you’ve elevated the work of Nicole Hannah Jones. So a big part of how Mining for Gold is helping our program transform our culture is spurring us to hold ourselves accountable, to educate ourselves and weave that new knowledge into how we communicate, how we connect, and how we do our work. Can you tell us more about the Mining for Gold movement that is rooted in racial justice, liberation, and belonging, and why your mantra is that culture must come before strategy?

Corey B. Best (07:59):

Absolutely. And you know, I, I appreciate the, the plug there, the work with your team has been fascinating, right? And I’ve learned so much along this particular journey. So the, to begin, MFG the, the cultivation of Mining for Gold has a basic premise, and the premise is that each and every one of us has proverbial ounces of gold, right? In us. So we recognize humanity in all people. And then when it comes to race and racism, right? We know that there is some some dirt and, you know, we’ve talked about dirty, dirty pain and clean pain based on resume’s work, right? Mm-Hmm. . And so in order to get to the clean pain, we have to stic aside some, some dirt in order to mine for gold. And so I don’t go into the Training Partnership digging for dirt because I’m gonna find exactly what I’m looking for, right?

Janine Beaudry (08:51):


Corey B. Best (08:51):

I go into, I go into mine for gold, right? Because I recognize that with our indoctrination and arrangement in this world, that we have a lot of dirty thoughts.

Janine Beaudry (09:04):

mm-hmm. .

Corey B. Best (09:05):

For, for lack of a better word, right? About ourselves, about race, about justice, liberation, and belonging. So I’ll start with, with creating, you know, belonging. Is this, within that word, belonging, there’s a being and there’s a longing, right? Hmm. And so one thing that has happened, right, with colonization, capitalism, genocide, is the assault on the relationship. That assault on the relationship has caused us to be segregated bodies, right? Hmm. And through that segregation, natural separation of people based on self-interest, we have adopted some ways of thinking about our mastery, our agency, our ingenuity, and that prevents folk from feeling autonomous in their full being. Right? I heard it said Janine, and now I’ll get right to the, to the mantra here in a moment.

Corey B. Best (10:06):

I heard a white colleague of mine say that, you know, us, us white people, were, were really struggling. Once we learn what racial oppression and terror means, because we start to realize that within inter white racial categories, some of us are tempting to become more white, right? So, so whiteness in this standard is impacting white people, and some are starting to, to see this, right? And this is where liberation work really comes in. What is the freedom? How do we have freedom to be who we are? How do we have freedom to think the way we want, freedom to resist in the way we want, and that gives us hope for presidency justice, right? And so what justice is said in a simple way is proactive reinforcement of policies, ideas, practices, and with your group, in the beginning, it’s mostly about attitudes, actions that produce new power, right?

Corey B. Best (11:10):

Access to opportunities, treatment, and the impact for several of your team. Liberation, again, is, is how do we use dreaming culture, behavior, language, orientation, all of those things, right? To create culture, to build a culture of relationship, a culture of care, fronting right? Care, fronting challenges. In, in our, in my, I’ll, I’ll speak for myself. In my indoctrination in, into systems, right? I was taught that I, I move change, I make change happen, right? When things are a little bit tough and I have to hold change, that’s when I want to move it, right? The pain is too great. I want to get rid of it, and I want to sort of not feel what I need to feel. And in our culture, building before strategy, it’s, it’s coming from black, Chicano and liberation movements of days of yore, where organizing was the mainstay.

Corey B. Best (12:16):

We’re organizing, meaning building relationships, making it easy for people to say yes to creating spaces that are brave not safe, because I think we’re all physically safe. But in this work, we know that safety has often meant that white bodies need to feel emotionally safe because they have entitlements to comfort, entitlements to ease entitlements to access to other black bodies, right? And so we wanna make sure that we are creating bravery where people can lean in and build the right accountable relationships with one another. And that ultimately gets us to strategy.

Janine Beaudry (12:58):

Mm-Hmm. .

Corey B. Best (12:59):

And sometimes in our work, we think about it, and in Mining for Gold, we think about what if culture building was the strategy, right? And so we’re building culture that gets us to being able to do some things externally, and that’s what we all want, social outcomes that lead to being able to say, what are the positive impacts of our strategies on people. And we query that as we go forward. So that’s sort of where, where it all came from. It’s it’s a flipping of the script, so to speak.

Janine Beaudry (13:36):


Corey B. Best (13:38):

Not the linear way of, of really doing things.

Janine Beaudry (13:42):

Yeah absolutely. I mean, I love, I love to hear care fronting and brave spaces in lieu of comfort, expecting that we’re gonna always have comfort, particularly if we’re really taking a look at ourselves and wanting to interrogate how we do what we do, how we think, what we think. How we are with each other. What our connections are. I love the idea of centering accountable relationships and this thought of culture, culture building being the strategy. I love that.

Corey B. Best (14:11):


Janine Beaudry (14:12):

. So we’re, we’re all increasingly aware that the contextual meaning and the resulting impact of language matters and plays a central role in culture. Language is a constantly evolving thing, so we must also constantly be evolving along with it. In our work together, you’ve raised the use of the phrase working in the field as it pertains to child welfare. What meaning does that phrase evoke, and what impact might it have particularly within the context of child welfare?

Corey B. Best (14:45):

Yeah. So within the context, this is a, this is an interesting conversation because one, Janine, I think the, the impact it has already been felt, right? So I don’t, I don’t know if we, I think what we’ll see is the impact of the use field when it pertains to child welfare workers. It, it will continue to evoke, invoke a level of repeated harm that comes from either memory, right? Or comes from more present experiences. And so what I mean by memory is that many folk have not come to grips with the fact that racism one predates race right? So we utilize racial categorization to justify embedded racism as, as an i set of ideologies, protocol, and, and practices. And so, what I mean exactly when it comes to the field as a term is that the field is known as a place, some folks, you have field of medicine, field of psychology, field of education, it’s a big broad body of work, right?

Corey B. Best (15:59):

Big, broad body of work. So we are, we’re utilizing the term field to describe one, a big body ocean of work. And that may seem quite benign, right? But then when you look at the invention and the development of systems and institutions, and you look back at the institution of slavery, chattel slavery, right? We, we know what, where people were in bondage, in captivity working on forced labor camps, aka plantations that was known as the field. And so as we grow in our contemporary knowledge, we see where managers, directors, leaders are positioned within the structure of an institution like the physical space. And then we look at what the workforce calls themselves, right? Field workers, right? And then when we look at some of our states across the country, many of our workforce are black, right? And so you think about who’s on the quote unquote, frontline, who’s in the field doing what bidding for whom?

Corey B. Best (17:19):

And so when I think about the, the institution of slavery field work, field hands, servants, right? And I think about who was, in positional power that governed, dictated and utilized punitive measures to ensure productivity. Hannah Nicole Jones talks about that in American capitalism and plantation in the, in the masters class series that that you, you listen to. So we, we know that the field itself connotes for black and brown bodies, right? And, and, and I I, I don’t wanna speak for my indigenous brothers and sisters, but I’ll say for those who come from lineages of chattel slavery, right? The field feels quite harmful.

Janine Beaudry (18:12):


Corey B. Best (18:13):

It feels sort of dismissive of my full humanity. And the, the other nuance here is the internalized piece to this Janine. Because it’s not as if in our country today that black and brown workforce, that, that they’re also saying, I I’m a field worker.

Corey B. Best (18:33):

Right? They’re also saying that I am out in the field when we say community. So maybe it’s a shift in reclaiming hum humanity. So if I’m working in community, am I really working in a field?

Janine Beaudry (18:47):


Corey B. Best (18:47):

Why not say I’m working with a family in their community? Right? It, it will lessen the harm. It’s not a language change that’s gonna absolutely just propel us to justice, but it is a step when we can understand why we use the term, where the term came from, and what’s the service serviceability of that term in today’s world.

Janine Beaudry (19:13):

Yeah. Thank you. It’s given us a great opportunity because of course, here we are right now talking on Welcome to the Field Podcast. So our program is gonna take that up, right? The, the use of that phrase as the title of the podcast we’re stay tuned, , we’ve got more coming about that. But I, I, it’s so interesting because it takes it takes something as simple as a word or a phrase and allows us to open that up to not only what do I mean when I use it, and maybe even I could dive more into the history of why I use it in that context to begin with. It also opens up the possibility that the way I use that is not how it’s impacting anybody who might be hearing me use it. And both sides of it are important to take up.

Corey B. Best (20:05):

Absolutely. And, you know, you make a, a really valuable point, I think, for us all to consider when it comes to, to, to understanding one, what, what racial justice and, and healing is and also requires. And, and a part of that, what I’m hearing Janine, you say, is that it may not, it may not matter at this point if you, Janine, are personally impacted by the use of the word field, right? It, it, it may not matter at that point, because now you have taken a step in action to see things from the other side. And by seeing things from the other side, you’re now attaching your liberation and their humanity together, right? So you’re seeing your humanity and other folk, right, without having to ever walk in their quote unquote proverbial shoes. Right?

Janine Beaudry (20:58):


Corey B. Best (20:58):

But we can, we can apply empathy and that that application of empathy gets us to sort of looking in the mirror a little bit and having people be the mirror for you.

Janine Beaudry (21:12):

Thank you. It has me thinking about the invention of racial categorization. So race is real, and race has been invented. So just take that kind of juxtaposition up in your mind and see what you can do with that. But, but, right. So, but you know, on the topic of, you know, loaded topic, really, of the census, right? So one of the ways that we find kind of percentages of, of people within certain areas. So according to the 2022 census, Vermont is 94% white, 0.4% Native American, or Alaskan 1.5% black or African American, 2% Asian, just over 2% Latinx or Hispanic, just above 0% Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, and about 2%, two or more races. So, so, you know, as we kind of decontextualize, right? Like tho those are some numbers that give some description of Vermont, what type of self-work accompanied by deliberate action can white bodies take in this state that is one of the whitest in the nation?

Corey B. Best (22:34):

Well, I, I hope that we, we are intentional about this, this particular piece been sort of left in and, and people can, can hear and, and feel. So I wanna, I wanna back up. So we do some of this work in our group, as you read those numbers, there was a, a weight an overwhelming sense of fear for the non-white bodies who live in Vermont. One, if I can just be honest about the weight and the charge of, of that. Right? And the, the other thing if I, if I touch it a little more, is we’re living in what’s called the United States of America that was formally the 13 colonies that all we know today, even through land acknowledgements and what have you, is that this land that we walk, live, play on was stolen through forced assimilation, genocide, right?

Janine Beaudry (23:48):

Mm-Hmm. ,

Corey B. Best (23:49):

Forced Christianity, all of those things.

Corey B. Best (23:52):

And, you know, you said to, to juxtapose race being real and a social construct. I want us to, to, to just hone in for one second and just hear you say 4% Native American.

Janine Beaudry (24:14):


Corey B. Best (24:15):


Janine Beaudry (24:16):


Corey B. Best (24:16):

Point, point, 0.4%. Native American. We must ask ourselves if this is native land, native indigenous bodies were here before European colonization and settlers, what happened to Native American bodies? And so we, we live in a world, Janine, where native indigenous invisibility and anti-blackness is rampant. Right? Rampant. So I, I wanted to, to, to lift up that, that the weight of that for me was, was huge. And, and so your, your question for 94% of the folk in that state deliberate action is to, to begin to, to one, inquire and understand why Vermont is as monoculture as it is. Why is Vermont as white as it is when it comes to racial categorization?

Corey B. Best (25:33):

Right? And I also believe that there are some linear steps that are non-linear actions in between that folk can take. And, and, and I’ll start with the, with the more, the more heady things, right? And then I’ll drill down just a little bit. So all of this work for those who are involved in understanding themselves in the context of America is, should be looked at in the service of what, right? In the service of yourself, right? So, so I want white bodies to understand one, that racial justice, liberation and belonging is not only a mindset, but it’s also not something that we’re doing for black brown, 4% Native American folk in the 1.5% black and or African American folk that live in Vermont. We’re not doing it for that, right? You must first understand that you are doing this for your own humanity, right?

Corey B. Best (26:36):

That’s number one, right? Your own liberation, your own healing, your own understanding why you are in the sorts of relationships you are in based on this invention. That’s first. And the other thing is to, to think about some phases to the work. And I just want to note that I’m, I’m bringing in an, an, an Asian scholar, Derald Wing Su in this part of the conversation. So I don’t want to I I, I don’t steal anybody’s work, right? I, he’s somebody that I studied from and I noticed that he appeals to, to white bodies, right? And so I want to use what works for, for white bodies to, to, to talk to them because one, Janine, the, the answers to your questions have been asked, answered for several hundred years now, right? Stop hurting us. Do things right. To understand the problem and create solutions that equal the magnitude of said problem.

Corey B. Best (27:39):

Obviously, those answers weren’t good enough, right? Probably because they came from a different worldview. And so self-interest is always the, the anchor of this thing. And so when we look at some phases, you can think about naivete, right? Understand where you might be naive in your own understanding. Conformity is another thing that we want to, we want white bodied individuals to, to understand the dissonance, right? And that dissonance is a necessary part of grappling, right? To truly feel some of these intrusive thoughts and understanding about how you have been formed in this world, and also, right? And also understand that you didn’t create the world, you didn’t create the systems that you, that, that you were, that, that are here. We were born into them. And some of these systems were born and, and generated and created two advantage white bodied individuals.

Corey B. Best (28:40):

Resistance and immersion. A lot of introspection has to occur, right? For that self-work. As we get into this phase of the work, we are now developing a more positive racial identity, right? See, I I say that intentionally, Janine, because here I am a black man I proud of my blackness. I know my black skin has never been anybody’s problem. It’s the ideology that’s the issue here. So I’m saying the same thing to you, white bodied individuals, your skin is never the problem, right? It’s the ideology that’s been the issue. So we look so myopic at the issues we fail to, as Resma says, PO punch up, right? As you know, to punch up. And this gets us into this integrative awareness. And ultimately, we wanna make not not just verbal commitments to anti-racist actions, but tangible commitments seeking out you know, anybody who’s had any interracial experiences, right?

Corey B. Best (29:44):

Being open to discussing racial issues with acquaintances of color expressing positive racial messages to family members, friends and coworkers. Standing against racist comments and jokes, joining or forming community or professional groups that work on behalf of multiculturalism and anti-racism planning, coordinating, conducting. Attending anti-racist form forms or otherwise with interested parties. And, you know, some things that, that, that Derald Wing Su does not talk about is understanding white body supremacy and trauma, right? And so that’s critically important to white bodies healing, and sometimes Janine in, in a state. So I’m just looking at the, the, the numbers. It’s a beautiful opportunity for white bodies to do their own level of work with each other, the healing work. The accountability work. The affinity work. The understanding trauma work, because there’s very little black and brown bodies in Vermont that would, should create any level of unnecessary discomfort.

Corey B. Best (31:02):

False fragility, right? A and so there’s beauty when like people do trauma and healing work together, other white bodies can hold one another accountable. Other white bodies can teach each other how to be mature. Other white bodies can help white bodies understand that shame and guilt are secondary emotions, right? They have no place in justice and liberation, right? White bodies can also help each other become big. And when I say big Janine, I’m not talking about centering one’s self, not that kinda big, right? that’s already built in. I’m talking about the kind of big, where you are able to withstand the information you’re taking in. The facts of our indoctrination, and to not, to not allow shame and guilt to be your default. They are intricately linked, but there are some alienations here. There are, they’re different, right? And, and one, you know, shame comes from this place of how we degrade ourselves is I’m seeing myself as I think the world should see me.

Corey B. Best (32:14):

So I’m a bad person, right? I did a bad thing, right? I, I just must say that hatred and dislike are different than racism. They’re byproducts. But we, we, we have to understand what racism is and is not. And so some of the, the things that are derived from guilt feelings to know that the number one, the primary emotion when it comes to guilt is fear. Right? And so we often bypass talking about white bodies. What I’m afraid of, right? Is that I’m afraid of unmasking ugly secrets about race and racism. And I’ll say that’s also a part of developing a positive racial identity, Janine. Because when I can put down all of the negative things, I may know that I’ve thought the negative things that I’ve said, the negative things I’ve been complicit in upholding, then I can understand where those things no longer serve me, right? In the quest for glimpsing liberation, but it requires a level of honesty with other people, right? To, to help and support the healing journey. So those are just some some, some things that I would consider for, for folk in Vermont. Recognizing that we might think that we don’t have a problem with racism because of the percentile of non-white people. But when we start with the first question.

Janine Beaudry (33:52):


Corey B. Best (33:53):

Right? Who’s deemed human and standard of measurement, then we have somewhere to go.

Janine Beaudry (33:58):

Right? It’s funny. So you’re, you’re talking about trauma and the word that kept coming to my mind is mal adaptation, you know? Right? It’s, and, and isn’t that the first, first step really in being able to then figure out how you can shift, how you can change, how you can grow into the person who may now not be in imminent danger, is to see where you grew into this maladaptive way of being, maladaptive way of thinking, maladaptive way of engaging with people. And it sounds like that is what you’re touching upon here, right? Like opening your eyes, , noticing what you haven’t noticed before, and then being able to say, oh, ah, wow, I, that is what it is, and it’s not serving me and it’s not serving us anymore. So it’s definitely something to take up and see if I can’t shift, right?

Corey B. Best (34:58):

Yeah. I mean, and that, that, that malady was given to us, right? Mm-Hmm. And so there, there is a a dis ease. Mm-Hmm. Right? There’s a, there’s a dis-ease.

Janine Beaudry (35:10):


Corey B. Best (35:11):

And even how we respond, react the comfort we need, the things we don’t want to say or look at from being colorblind to utilizing colorblind methodologies in child welfare. If I don’t talk about race, if I don’t see race, then it’s no problem.

Janine Beaudry (35:28):

Mm-Hmm. ,

Corey B. Best (35:29):

Right? But I, I believe we, we really know different today. Right?

Janine Beaudry (35:35):

Yeah, absolutely. It’s, it’s, it’s striking. If you take it within the context of racialized arrangement, it’s so obvious. 94% white is so very much a racialized arrangement.

Corey B. Best (35:49):

Yes, it is.

Janine Beaudry (35:50):

So digging into that, right? That’s step one, ,

Corey B. Best (35:53):

Step one. I mean the, the, the why. And, and so, and so in my, in my work, I’m, I, I’ll, I’ll say with, with confidence, you’ll begin to see, we’ve begun to see.

Janine Beaudry (36:04):

mm-hmm. .

Corey B. Best (36:04):

That it’s no longer about what people have, have done or avoided, right? It’s more about what has happened to us all and how we sort of internalize these things. And in that internalization, we begin to take on forms based on how our, I mean, at a really cellular level, right? We’ve been changed by racism.

Janine Beaudry (36:31):

So some of us have come away with a lot of privileges, and some have had a lot of privileges and resources kept, we’ve all been harmed. That’s the major connection is in this culture of racism. We’re all harmed. It’s a, it’s a malady that we all need to be stepping into to undo that harm.

Corey B. Best (36:53):

Yeah. And I, I mean, I know this may not be the most popular thing, but a, a, another white colleague of mine she says that, you know, we often think about racism as like this pejorative thing, you know?

Janine Beaudry (37:05):

Mm-Hmm. ,

Corey B. Best (37:05):

I’m so afraid of being called a racist or what have you. Well, you know, Janine, you personally can call me a name, but I can deal with that individually. But you put on a child welfare badge, you’re bringing a whole institution with a lot of history of things behind that. Right? Now, I don’t want you to call me the name Janine, but I’m just saying that it, we can leave the negative words out of our vocabulary. We can treat people nice, right? And we’ll still have racist outcomes, because what you said a minute ago, racism predates race if we don’t do anything about the ideology, right?

Corey B. Best (37:43):

We’ll continue to see the same outcomes and we’ll continue to see Vermont at a 94% white racial cat arrangement in the state.

Janine Beaudry (37:52):

Mm-Hmm. .

Corey B. Best (37:53):

And what, what my colleagues said, and and I, I definitely call her a friend now, she says, you know, it, it took me a while to understand where my anger needed to be projected.

Janine Beaudry (38:04):


Corey B. Best (38:05):

Right? Because often I, I didn’t realize that I was powerless in changing something. And so when conversations got tough, my anger went to the person, not the ideology. Right? So it looks like Janine and Corey got a beef, right? And, and it’s not even about us, right? It’s about this ideology. And she says what she started to do was figure out how she can stop being angry at black people for speaking the truth and start getting angry at racism for making her a racist.

Janine Beaudry (38:38):

Hmm. That’s pretty powerful. And I think it’s an opening for people to be more active and walk away from that you know, deer in the headlights feeling that shame gives us, right?

Corey B. Best (38:50):


Janine Beaudry (38:50):

Like, I’m stuck here. It’s all bad. There’s nothing I could do to make it less bad, and I’m just gonna wait for it to stop feeling bad or, or move away from the thing that makes it feel bad instead of walking toward the light, right. Walking towards some positive change that I do have a roll in. Okay? So we have a lot now to think about a lot on our plates to take in and digest. I hate to leave people hanging, but I do believe we need to take a little time to think about all the things that you’ve shared. So I’m gonna say thank you for now and can’t wait to welcome you back to part two of this conversation, Corey.

Corey B. Best (39:28):

Absolutely. And I, I really appreciate the moment to, to pause and maybe do a little reflection there as well Janine, because one part of the work is we, we don’t have to to eat everything in one sitting, right?

Janine Beaudry (39:40):

Mm-Hmm. .

Corey B. Best (39:41):

So I look forward to, to the next time and when we return to the conversation.

Janine Beaudry (39:46):

All right? Thank you. And thank you for listening to this conversation about child welfare with justice as the through line. If you like me, want to hear more of what Corey B. Best has to share, you’re in luck. Corey will be speaking with Vermont’s very own Department for Children and Family’s Family Services Division, Deputy Commissioner Erica Radke. Later this spring, Corey and Erica will be discussing the child and family support system that we want to build here in Vermont and nationwide. You don’t wanna miss that conversation, so keep an ear out for more information. Corey also hosts his own podcast called Audio Nuggets. And of course, each is pure gold. You can find them all as well as a trove of great information about Corey’s and Mining for Gold’s work at And if you haven’t yet listened to our November, 2021 three part miniseries, race and racism in child welfare, hosted by Tabitha Moore with special guest Dr. Ken Hardy, you definitely wanna check that out. While you’re there, please dive into the rest of Welcome to the Field seasons one through three.

Cassie Gillespie (40:57): 

Welcome to The Field is produced by the University of Vermont’s Child Welfare Training Partnership, and the State of Vermont. Our theme music is composed and performed by local band Brick Drop, and our sound production and engineering is brought to you by Egan Media Productions. We’d also like to give a special thank you to our in-house technical production assistant, Emma Baird. For Welcome to the Field. I’m Cassie Gillespie, and we’ll see you next time.

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