Join Tabitha Moore as she explores critical themes in Race & Racism in Child Welfare with Dr. Ken Hardy. In this series Tabitha and Ken explore critical themes in race/racism as they relate to the Child Welfare Workforce, Caregivers, and children and youth of color in the child welfare system. Please note- although each episode in this mini-series does have a distinct focus, our hope is that you listen to all three, in the order of their release, as some of the concepts Tabitha and Ken discuss will build on ideas from the previous episode. Part 2 – Focuses on the experiences, strengths and needs of children of color in the child welfare system.
Tabitha Moore (she/they), is the owner and principal consultant of Intentional Evolution,LLC. She has been consulting on the topics of identity-based equity and racial justice for over 20 years. Her work centers on the intersections of identity and systems of care, learning how and whether said systems promote, inhibit, or prohibit healthy individual and community identity development. She has worked extensively in systems of care including organizations that serve people with disabilities and the fields of mental health, law enforcement, education, and child welfare.
Tabitha earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Wells College by creating her own major, the Psychology of Latin America in the Context of Its Language and Culture; a convergence of psychology, sociology, Spanish language, women’s studies, and Latin American cultural studies/anthropology. For her research on women and identity development conducted in the Dominican Republic, she earned the honor of graduating with distinction.
Tabitha maintains her license to practice Marriage and Family Therapy; a degree earned in 2002 from Syracuse University, and is nearing completion of her doctoral degree from Saybrook University in the field of Transformative Social Change. She has the privilege of being awarded the following honors: the Vermont Leaders and Achievers Award from VSAC in 2019, the New England Leaders and Achievers Award in 2019, the Rights and Democracy Human Rights Award in 2020, NAACP Rutland Lifetime Achievement Award in 2021, and the Wells College Outstanding Young Alumnae Award in 2021.
In addition to her career and activism, Tabitha is the mother to three human children and 4 dogs. She finds peace and rejuvenation hiking with her family, exercising, eating high quality dark chocolate and testing out the nearest spas. You can reach Tabitha by email: email@example.com
Kenneth V. Hardy, Ph.D. is the President of the Eikenberg Academy for Social Justice, and Director of the Eikenberg Institute for Relationships in New York City. He is also a Professor of Family Therapy at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Dr. Hardy has provided Diversity and Racial Sensitivity training and consultations to an extensive list of Health and Human Services agencies as well as a host of educational institutions. He is a frequent workshop presenter, trainer, and consultant on the topics of cultural and racial diversity, trauma and oppression.
Dr. Hardy has published prolifically and is the author of numerous articles and book chapters. He has co-authored the following books: Minorities and Family Therapy; Teens Who Hurt: Clinical Interventions to Break the Cycle of Adolescent Violence; and Revisioning Family Therapy: Race, Culture, and Gender in Clinical Practice. His latest book is Culturally Sensitive Supervision and Training: Diverse Perspectives and Practical Applications. He is also featured in several therapy videotapes as well as a documentary devoted to slavery. His videotape “The Psychological Residuals of Slavery” has been well received by both the professional and lay communities for serving as a catalyst to promote conversations about race relationships.
Dr. Hardy has received considerable acclaim for the contributions that his publications and videotapes have made toward challenging our field to think critically about issues of diversity, trauma and oppression. He has been a frequent contributor to the popular media and has been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Dateline NBC, and 20/20, the Discovery Health Channel, and ABC Nightline.
Dr. Hardy maintains a practice in New York, New York.
Cassie Gillespie (00:02):
Hello, I’m Cassie Gillespie. And you’re listening to Welcome to the Field, a podcast for child welfare workers, caregivers, and community partners. Today, we are bringing you the second episode in our special three-part mini-series on race and racism with Tabitha Moore and Ken Hardy. Over the next few weeks, Tabitha and Ken will explore critical themes in race and racism as they relate to the child welfare workforce, caregivers and children, and youth of color in the child welfare system. Although each episode in this mini-series does have a distinct focus. Our hope is that you listen to all three in the order of their release, as some of the concepts that Tabitha and Ken discuss will build on ideas from the previous episode. So if you were starting on today’s episode, please go back and listen to last week’s episode first. Today, Tabitha and Ken will focus on the experiences, strengths, and needs of children of color in the child welfare system. Here we go.
Tabitha Moore (00:59):
Thanks Cassie. And hello everyone. Tabitha Moore here to welcome you to another episode of Welcome to the Field. I’ll be with you for this next leg of our series as we dive head and heart first into talking about race and racism and child welfare. I’m fortunate to be joined by racial justice legend expert in marriage and family therapy. Icon Dr. Kenneth Hardy. Dr. Hardy is a clinical and organizational consultant at the Eikenberg Institute for Relationships in New York, New York, where he also serves as director. He provides racially focused trauma, informed training, executive coaching and consultation through a diverse network of individuals and organizations throughout the United States and abroad. He’s a former professor of family therapy at both Drexel University in Philadelphia and Syracuse University in New York, and has also served as the Director of Children, Families, and Trauma at the Ackerman Institute for the Family in New York, New York. Ken will be joining me for three episodes as we explore these themes and these critical issues.
Tabitha Moore (01:52):
This is our second episode. Ken, welcome and thanks for joining me today.
Ken Hardy (01:56):
Thank you so much. Great to be back.
Tabitha Moore (01:59):
So here in Vermont, we disproportionately remove kids of color from their homes. We don’t keep accurate enough statistics to be able to account for other possible trends, but there’s been widespread acknowledgement that we need to do better for children of color in our care, both in custody and those whose families interact with the child welfare system in general. On today’s episode of Welcome to the Field, we’ll speak with Dr. Ken Hardy on how the child welfare system can be more responsive and reflective of the experiences, strengths, and needs of children of color in the child welfare system. We’ll also touch on how to talk to white children and families about race and racism as if we are to undo systemic racism. People of all races must be doing the work. So Ken let’s dive right in. So I like to begin by helping our listeners get a sense of the meaning of what it means to be a kid of color in the child welfare system. So if you could please provide us with some information from your decades of experience and what it might be like for kids of color in our child system, what’s happening for youth who have contact with our systems, what are some of the things that people need to know?
Ken Hardy (03:04):
Well, I think first and foremost, let me just start what I think it means to be a child of color in our society, that it means that you are born into a group that is stigmatize devalued in a broader society. So that through no choice of your own bombarded with a plethora of negative messages about who you are. That’s just means that’s who it is to be a child of color, no matter who you are, you could be the children of Barack Obama and Michelle Obama. And you’re going to be exposed to those messages where you are defined by society and defined in a particular way, then to be a child of color, and then to be in child welfare system, it means that you are then having to confront and deal with double stigmatization. And so that is no matter how you look at it, no matter what angle you look at it from our society to be in a system like child welfare is to be part of a stigmatized devalued experience.
Ken Hardy (04:10):
And so I think that that situation, that dynamic is compounded for children of color and to the extent that those children of color happen to also, if they happen to be from poor backgrounds, then you’re looking at three different layers of stigma that children at very early ages before they even know what the word stigma is, have to deal with the residuals of that. And I think that’s a tall order for, I think just being a child of color is a tall order, but then when you factor in these other variables, I think it becomes even that much more daunting.
Tabitha Moore (05:01):
So as I’m listening to you talk, I just keep thinking, wow, that’s a lot of trauma. And so, you know, if, if people who are caring for the children like child welfare workers, or even foster parents for that matter are going to be working with these kids with our kids, but what do they need to know? I mean, you know, how can they be trauma responsive and racially responsive?
Ken Hardy (05:23):
That’s a great question. I mean, I, I think that from my experience that it seems that one of the major misnomers of, of those who foster sometimes to think that what, and I’ve actually had families say this in treatment, what this child needs is someone to love them and discipline. There on some occasion folk families had said, and they need the Lord in our lives. We need religion. And, you know, I think all of those things are important, but you know, I, I do worships on this for the child, whereas child welfare system, that law is not enough so that that yes, they do need love and they need structure and discipline perhaps and religion, if that’s one’s belief system, but also think that they need attention to underlying trauma wounds that they carry with them. And always say that you see a young child who is in the system that with a backpack.
Ken Hardy (06:32):
And that if we were to unpack that backpack, we’d find books and pencil case, and, you know, very, maybe eyeglasses if they wear glasses, all these visible, tangible markers about their laws, which you won’t find in that backpack are all the invisible wounds of trauma that the child has to deal with. Though they’re carrying a backpack full of trauma, it’s just not readily visible to the naked eye. And so one has to look for it in order to see it. One has to know what they’re looking for and even to be able to see it. And oftentimes that’s, you know, that’s a missing piece of this work.
Tabitha Moore (07:19):
So some listening to you, two questions come to mind, how do people know what to look for? And then how do you recognize specifically racial trauma in children?
Ken Hardy (07:27):
Well, I think racial trauma is its own unique form of trauma. And I happen to believe that it, that it’s virtually impossible for children of color, to be born and raised in our society without sustaining the wounds of racialized trauma. Because I just think that the negative messages around race are pervasive. They’re everywhere. They’re part of the media. They’re part of the programs that children watched during the schools. It’s inescapable. And so first that one has to recognize that race is a real thing and that racial oppression paves the way for racial trauma. And when you have racial trauma that it wounds you. And until I think just accepting that as a construct and that I think there are, there are a set of wounds that I think that are unique to racial trauma that I think are fairly universal for, for young children of color.
Ken Hardy (08:28):
And so I think enhancing one’s knowledge of those wounds. So for example, that it is hard to be, have membership in a group, that’s devalued in a broader society without internalizing one’s devaluation. So if I hear hear it enough, read it enough, see it said enough that I’m not smart or I don’t talk right. Or that I’m, I’m a thug or whatever ways w whatever the messages are that I’m, that I’m threatening, it’s hard not to internalize those messages. And once you internalize those messages of devaluation, it really limits what you, it limits how you see your potential and what you can do. It limits your, even your mobility in lots of ways. It has a very debilitating effect once one internalizes one’s devaluation, and this then this persists across the life cycle. So that is the high school kids who won’t consider college because they have so deeply internalized the message they’re not smart enough. The college is for smart people and images of smart people or white people. And so therefore they don’t put forth the effort to do it. They don’t see it as a possibility at the college level. I see, you know, students of color who do remarkably well, like in a master’s program, for example, but won’t consider a PhD program because that, that haunt about not being good enough is there from early childhood exposure. And it just traverses the life cycle. I mean, that’s just one of, one of many.
Tabitha Moore (10:15):
And so as I’m listening to you think, or listening to you talk, I also think, you know, how do we foster greater confidence? Self-Love in kids of color who are in our system and how do we repair the harm of racial trauma?
Ken Hardy (10:26):
We’ll see. I just think that I I’ve often said this to clinicians that I, that I supervise that if you work with a, and I believe this is true of all families, but I think it’s particularly true of families of color. That if you spend 45 minutes with a family of color or a child of color, and you haven’t identified anything, a badge of ability or redeemable quality in that child or family, that that’s a problem with the observer and not the observed. And so I do think that we on the worker side of things have to be intentional about looking for the hero, the Shiro with end the children that we work with. And then I think we have to exercise that the TSA rule, if you see something say something. So I don’t think it’s enough to see it unless we actually sharing it with the child.
Ken Hardy (11:18):
And so my, my first interaction with a child is in the welfare, the child welfare system is I want to make sure that he or she or they leave that first interaction with me with some sense about what at least a redeemable quality is that they have, because I think that that is restorative. That is how you begin to restore rebuild and replace that has been devalued. And so I think there has to be a conscious effort to do that kind of restorative work with the soul of children of color. Now, it just so happens that when the emphases are on punishment and them having structure, that the exact opposite is usually what happens, that there is a lot of interactions with the child that’s shaped around you, should you shouldn’t don’t do this. You better do that without spending the necessary, the requisite level of time pointing out to the child about what their badge is, what I refer to as badges of ability, the things that like these invisible badges that they wear around that really carries and says, here’s some, here’s some positive, here’s some redeemable qualities that I have that others can’t see.
Ken Hardy (12:46):
So I think that becomes a foundation for all the other subsequent work that we do with children as systems, because if we don’t, if we don’t convince them that their parts about them and their experiences that are good and redeemable, then they, they allow, they just get saturated and this negativity around devaluation.
Tabitha Moore (13:08):
So it was as, as workers, particularly white workers. Cause we have a lot of those here in Vermont are trying to do this repair work with children of color and, you know, children that our child welfare system already, you know, have a sense of distrust. And then you take on top of that kind of the potential racial distrust that kids may not even be aware it’s happening. What should child welfare workers be doing to develop trust across race?
Ken Hardy (13:35):
Well, I think it requires a to acknowledge race B. I think it requires having a willingness to name it and talk about it. I don’t think there can be, because I don’t think there can be an unraveling of mistrust. If the worker is mute about issues of race that that’s even true in my own life. I may not. You know, if it’s, if the things that we, if you think we can’t talk about, then it’s hard to invest in that relationship. It’s hard to feel a sense of trust. And so I think that’s important. And then I think that the particularly the white worker has to get out of the deficit model, that they’ve been trained, that they’ve been trained and to look at a family, a child welfare family, and immediately identify what’s wrong with their family. What’s wrong with the child. That’s how we’re trained.
Ken Hardy (14:27):
We’re trained to look for problems. And that’s what we see. And so I think when you’re dealing with someone who has been profoundly pervasively and comprehensively devalued that if we’re starting with what’s broken and what’s not there, then we’re not going to build trust. We build trust by authentically pointing out to this child, the redeemable parts we see in him or her and building on that and to not move to, to critique until we see evidence that that feedback that restorative work we’re doing has had some traction. But again, as I was saying in a previous session, that if the orientation is on product and moving very rapidly, then it just isn’t time to take, to do the restorative work because it takes time. So anyway, I was just, I, I just think that to build trust requires the worker to be able to see that which w which is redeemable and the child and to do the kind of devote the kind of time and attention to the restorative work. Because I think if, if I have a profoundly devalued sense of who I am, that I’m stuck in that place. And so to be able to sit with someone who actually sees value in me, sees that who doesn’t fail to hold me accountable for all the, you know, the, the problematic behaviors I might be involved in. But in addition to us is able to see some redeemable aspects. We just see that badge, the ability, I think that will help build trust immensely
Tabitha Moore (16:08):
As I’m listening to you talk, I’m reminded of your book, coauthored with Tracy Laszloffy “Teens Who Hurt: Clinical Interventions to Break the Cycle of Adolescent Violence”. I’m wondering if you could talk a little bit more about some of the complex relationships between individual relational, systemic and societal factors including the concept of, of race. I’m hearing you start to talk about that. So I’m just wondering if you could expound a little bit more.
Ken Hardy (16:33):
Yeah. I mean, that’s, I’m impressed you remembered that, but, so, so I just think that when I talk about the wound of internal evaluation, for example, that this happens on multiple levels. And I think that the worker has to be positioned and poised to treat it on multiple levels. So at the individual level, you know, that it may well be that I’ve grown up in a family where I’ve been devalued, and it could be that any number of issues that I’ve been neglected or abused or just been told that I’m a awful person because my, my skin tone is too dark. And, and, and so that has had, that has lacerated my soul, just having that kind of individual exposure. But then there are these societal forces that also contribute quite massively to devaluation. And so that it’s hard as a child, you know, or anybody for that matter, a person of color to, to be exposed to like the murder of George Floyd, for example, or Brianna Taylor, or Ahmaud Arbery or Walter Scott, or the countless numbers of other black people who have been on our black people have been murdered, and it’s one thing to be exposed.
Ken Hardy (17:52):
And then the other is then to see that that no one is held accountable that it, you know, we know societaly that that’s given birth to the black lives matter movement and that black lives matter is basically a movement to counteract devaluation. The very thing we’re talking about here. And so this devaluation, so when you take a child, who’s experienced some of the rawness of that within the context of context of one’s family of origin. And, and that could be any child. You can have a white child could be exposed to that. And here’s where the, the party line is that that white child though, does not go out into a society where the white child is devalued around the core of who they are, the child of color, who has that challenging family situation, where he or she had been devalued now has to go out and interact in school and other systems on the outside the family and the broader society, and get another heavy bombardment of devaluing messages. And so it compounds the issue. And so that is why I think in some ways that racial trauma has to be dealt with when working with children of color, because it is such a debilitating dynamic on the lives of people of color, broadly speaking, and particularly children of color, because, because they are in fact children,
Tabitha Moore (19:19):
Either we’re talking a lot, and it’s really important that we are, you know, paying attention to the people who are most victimized by racism, especially in our kids who are, you know, as you said, devil stigmatized or devil victimized by it. At the same time here in Vermont we have a lot of white kids and, and what I think we’re seeing nationally happening right now with pushback against things like critical race theory and, you know, trying to create national legislation so that we’re not even talking about racism in schools. I see that we also have an imperative to be talking with white children as well. And so what would your recommendations be for child welfare workers about a why and how they need to talk about, about it, and then how do they talk about it? So, could you, could you go down that avenue a little bit?
Ken Hardy (20:03):
Because I think it’s an important question. I’m glad you raised it because I often say that that, and white families and families of color it is commonplace for children to receive the talk from their families. The differences that in families of color, that talk is a racial talk and most white families that talk issues about sex. I think it’s actually important for white children to be exposed to conversations about race and both in and outside of the families. And I think that it’s important for white children to know that they’re white, because it’s astonishing to me that if you, if you just pick out a random had picked out a five-year-old little white, for example, or 12 year old white girl, that is interesting to me that they know or believe they know what gender they are. They can tell you, I’m a boy, I’m a girl.
Ken Hardy (21:00):
They can tell you that pretty definitively in most cases. And how is it that, but neither would necessarily know that they’re white. And how is it that they’ve been white as long as they’ve been boy or girl, but the whiteness is agreed with some sense of it’s been you know, unexplored part of their background. So I think that having conversations with white children about race is absolutely absolutely 100% imperative. And I think if it’s nothing more than just introducing them to the notion that they are white and, and how that is received in society, because then what that would do is lends itself to then also talking about some of the, some of the unfairness associated with it. It would, it would demystify race and it would quickly debunk the notion that race is a people of color issue rather than a human issue.
Tabitha Moore (21:55):
It sounds like one of the messages that we want to, you know instill in white children is that race is not just about it’s not just about brown people or people who are not them, because then we’re just still reiterating the same paradigm. So then, you know, what are some of the key issues that workers need to be hitting on when they’re talking with children about race and racism?
Ken Hardy (22:18):
Well, I think what it means a, what it means to be white. I think the way that whiteness is constructed in our society, you know, like parents, like progressive parents have no trouble saying to their daughters, for example you can be anything you want to be. And yet you may have to work a little bit harder because our society has this mythical notion that men are more better than women. And that’s deconstructed for many children around gender. I think the same kind of explanation deconstruction needed for white children that you will be treated this way and lots of places in our society because you’re white, which isn’t fair and you’ll have children of color who were denied the same opportunities. And I want you to grow up with this belief and this notion that everybody’s equal or that they should be treated equally. Although that’s not the case, I think in age appropriate ways that is important for parents and workers to have these conversations with white children in a way that really explains and deconstructs whiteness. And again, like I said, like that the conversation may appear a little differently with an eight year old than it might with an 18 year old, but I think it’s a conversation that needs to be had and in both instances.
Tabitha Moore (23:35):
And so, you know, as we’re looking at us, I mean, I always am kind of picturing younger kids up to maybe the age of 1213. And then that makes me think about here in Vermont, youth justice falls under the purview of child welfare, which we know is, is unique. There aren’t a lot of states who are doing these sorts of things. And so as we’re considering the concepts of race and racism as a whole, I want to pay attention to kids of color and our juvenile justice system. And what are some of the things that workers need to be thinking about? I know we’re kind of talking about some, some pretty broad themes, but also giving great specific examples. But can you talk a little bit about working with kids of color in the juvenile justice system and things that workers need to be considering or thinking about or doing
Ken Hardy (24:16):
There are lots, but if I had to uplift one thing you know, in the interest being precise and concise, it would be to recognize that it, it is hard to be to live a life of devaluation, to have membership in a stigmatized group, to have the kinds of experiences that children of color and people of color have and not, and not have rage and rage in the youth justice system is a very dangerous and complicated thing for young youth of color to have, because our response to rage in our society is not a therapeutic response, but a punitive response. And you know, that we have had this inability to differentiate between anger and rage. And so that the rage that loss of adolescence and youth of color have, is often untreated or mistreated within the context of the youth justice system, because either we want to have those children involved in anger management, which is wonderful for anger, but does very little for rage, or we attempt to punish them for rage.
Ken Hardy (25:31):
And, and there’s no way to eradicate rage while the conditions that are responsible for rage are allowed to persist. And so that I find myself as a clinician having, you know, multiple, multiple conversations with young kids of color about rage and on the one hand, trying to legitimize their rage, that, that that’s a legitimate feeling for you to have. And at the same time that it cannot be eradicated. You can’t get rid of it. And so what has to happen is it has to be channeled. And I think it’s up to the workers who work with youth of color to help every use a collar. You work with a fond, some particular vehicle or vessel for the channeling of their rage, because if that doesn’t happen, then the system will either destroy them or they will be destroyed because that rage will get expressed in inappropriate ways.
Ken Hardy (26:30):
And when you really think about it, it’s, it actually saddens me to talk about this because when you have a 14 and 15 year old, who has a fair amount of rage, there was no appropriate place for that person to go to express their rage. You cannot express it on the streets in the presence of police. You cannot address it in your neighborhood. You cannot express it in Church, Temple, Mosque, Synagogue you can express it in school. And so what happens is we have a lot of young people walking around with a belly full of rage and nowhere, and no legitimate means of, of discharging it. And so I think if I had to pick one issue, that’s such a critical issue in a youth justice system would be for workers to really create space, to work with young people on issues of rage and helping them find some vehicles or channels for those rages for that rage. Sorry,
Tabitha Moore (27:30):
Thank you for that. If you could just distinguish rage from anger for folks. So they have a sense of how they’re different and, and how they might present differently.
Ken Hardy (27:40):
Yeah, well, I think of anger as being a much more immediate kind of episodic emotion. Like it’s, it’s it is that which happens in the present. So, you know, if I had had difficulty logging on for this, I might have some momentary flash of anger. I, why does this have to happen now? Anger. It has a much more immediate emotion. Rage on the other hand as a much more in many ways primitive emotion, because it has a history to it. That it builds up over an extended period of time. It’s like, what happens when you have a kind of racial slight and you decide, well, I’m just gonna, I’m just gonna stuff that, and so you stuff it and then you have another racial slide and you stuff it. And so what’s happening is every time one, stuff’s an experience that one’s essentially planning to seize for rage.
Ken Hardy (28:38):
It’s a kind of nuclear buildup that happens and it becomes all consuming. And the only way without intervention that rage gets expressed is either through implosion that it basically destroys the person inside out or explosion with a person then strikes out. And usually that has some element of destructiveness to it as well. And so it’s a very complex if I think about my own rage over the years, that some of it has to do with my own experiences, it has to do with experiences and feelings and circumstances were passed down in a generationally. So that I think there’s a rage that is intergenerationally transmit it. It also is rooted in assault to one’s literal self or one symbolic self. So that is why, how I would explain the number of black and brown people who felt furious after watching the George Floyd murder that wasn’t just fury, it was rage.
Ken Hardy (29:36):
That had just connected and ignited something that was already there. And so I do think it’s a deeply debilitating emotion. I think it’s gendered in many ways. And so I think that we’re much more attuned to the rage of males and boys than we are of girls and girls rage oftentimes is turned inward. And so that we’re much more likely to respond to a 16 year old who’s threatening to kill someone than we are a 14 year old girl who is cutting her wrist or engaged in hypersexual activity that we see that as nothing more than her promiscuity, not rage. And so there’s a way in which it is, it is, like I said, if I had to pick one issue that I think is critical to really work with around youth, it would be rage because I don’t think we have a good understanding of how it operates.
Tabitha Moore (30:34):
And I would also say that we also have a tendency to shut it down again. That’s that kind of what you’re talking about. There’s no safe place for kids to express their rage and have it be held and heard, and even, you know, kind of, I don’t know if honored is the right word for, for what it is.
Ken Hardy (30:50):
And I’m glad you made that point because it’s almost like a Seesaw relationship that when we shut it down there’s also it actually increases the intensity of rage. So every time we shut it down, it also is like an investment and it’s increasing. So is this so it’s, it’s the response to shutting it down is, is actually contra-indicated. I mean, basically it, it actually exacerbates the issue.
Tabitha Moore (31:17):
So then how, how then would you suggest that child welfare systems, district offices, or supervisors, even workers, how then do you suggest that they go about creating those channels or opportunities for kids, especially kids of color, to express their rage?
Ken Hardy (31:34):
It’s hard to, it’s hard to help them channel it if, if I, as the worker and fearful of it or them by see you as threatening and I’m guarded, I can’t possibly help you navigate this. So that’s, I guess there’s a piece that comes back to the self of the worker. And then secondly, I have to take the time to get to know you to know what’s important. How do you, how do you make meaning in your life? Because the potential vehicle, like I understand clearly clearly that, like part of my motivation for doing this with you is that this is a vehicle for my rage. It allows me to channel all of the deeply rooted feelings I have and to some societaly acceptable, medium. And so for some kids are able to channel that into athletics, some into spoken word, some into, you know, performing arts, you know. But I think we have to sit down and we have to have you take the opportunity to get to know the whole person to know their story, and to be able to hear that story before we can even come up with viable options, suggestions for what their vehicle for rage might be.
Ken Hardy (32:50):
And oftentimes if we are approaching this work, having approached this work where we have 8 to 10 sessions, or that we have to move rapidly, where we structure the work around what we need, what we want and what I need to fill out the appropriate paperwork, then that doesn’t afford me the opportunity to get to know the whole person sitting in front of me. And what it does is it limits the options that I have available to even consider for potential vehicles for re
Tabitha Moore (33:20):
And if I’m kind of following along and you can tell me if, if this is off here, but I just want to, again, you’ve provided so much information. It sounds like you’re talking about humanizing the child. It sounds like you’re talking about, you know, first of all, just recognizing race and racism as issues that create this deeper pervasive sense of rage. And then to humanize that rage, that sense of double stigmatization that you were talking about before of being a kid of color in the welfare system, child welfare system, and being trauma informed as being racially for informed. I think that’s one of the things that you’d either said here. And another place I’d seen you are really, really seemed to be critical components. But then again, the worker really has to do some deep self work in order to be able to hold, create that holding system for the child to, to express themselves.
Tabitha Moore (34:07):
And then on the other side, when we’re talking about white kids, you said so much about the need to talk to white kids about whiteness and the same way that they’ll talk to kids about gender. I really appreciated that analogy. Hopefully folks can really latch onto it as as easily as I did. Is there anything else that you can think of that you want to make sure that people, if they, if people walk away, what is it? We lose 80% of what we learned when we walk away. If there were one or two points that you want to make sure that our listeners today walk away with etched in their minds and hearts forever, what would they be?
Ken Hardy (34:41):
Just that, I think that if you’re working with clients of color, children of color, the issue of race has to be dealt with, it has to be on the table in terms of race and racial trauma. That that is absolutely imperative. And the other is that it’s important for us. There’s a bumper sticker I love, which says that when a, when a teacher ceases to be a student, the teacher should cease to be a teacher. And so I love that because what it means is that we, that we all have to have some willingness to learn and to continue to be curious, and particularly that curiosity about ourselves, if we’re working with the human spirit is such a blessing and privilege to do that, but it also requires something robust of us. It requires us to be lifelong learners that we’re constantly being curious and asking and asking ourselves questions that, that come back to enriching the work we do. And so those would be the two things.
Tabitha Moore (35:36):
Well, thank you so much. Can I can tell you I’m constantly learning from you. It doesn’t matter how many years it’s been since I’ve seen you. You always offer such rich and deep soul work. So thank you again for being here with us today.
Ken Hardy (35:44):
My pleasure. Thank you.
Tabitha Moore (35:49):
All right. Take care.
Cassie Gillespie (35:53):
Thank you for listening. Welcome to the Field is produced by the Vermont Child Welfare Training Partnership and the State of Vermont. Our music is composed and performed by local band Brick Drop, and our sound production and engineering has been brought to you by Esmond Communications and Egan Media Productions. For Welcome to the Field, I’m Cassie Gillespie, and we’ll see you next time.