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LETTERS

Hard work of antiracism starts with reaching families as they’re forming

Stefanie Lawrence and her 2-year-old daughter Destiny, in Dorchester, in a 2014 file photo. When Lawrence was pregnant, she had nurse home visits and got her own place thanks to initiatives by city officials aimed at reducing infant mortality rates, especially among Black babies.
Stefanie Lawrence and her 2-year-old daughter Destiny, in Dorchester, in a 2014 file photo. When Lawrence was pregnant, she had nurse home visits and got her own place thanks to initiatives by city officials aimed at reducing infant mortality rates, especially among Black babies.Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff

I am writing in response to your call to hear from more Black voices. Here are my thoughts on how we can approach dismantling systemic racism and at the same time build stronger families:

Change often moves at a glacial pace. I hope our state is committed to dealing with systemic racism boldly and swiftly.

First step: Address social determinants. Many Black families do not have equitable access to systems that build healthy and resilient families.

And start before birth. Black women are three to four times more likely to die from childbirth than white women. As director of home visiting for the Children’s Trust, I work with Healthy Families programs that partner home visitors with young parents, starting in pregnancy. This intensive work has provided supports that young parents need to cultivate stronger families.

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I am angry that many people are just now recognizing that institutional racism creates inequities for Black families. James Baldwin said, “To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.” Nevertheless, I recognize the opportunity. People are finally paying attention.

Real change is uncomfortable, disruptive, and requires sacrifice. So I say to anyone listening: Invest in the hard work of real change.

Steven Pascal

Milton