A Way Home America Racial Equity & Justice Core Principles

Youth homelessness exists today largely due to America’s long history of structural racism and systemic inequities. In order to end youth homelessness, we will work to ensure our systems work for all youth. Partner organizations serving on the AWHA Steering Committee are committed to centering the importance of racial equity and justice in all of our work to end youth homelessness.  We see equity as providing opportunities and resources based on need, realizing not everyone starts in the same place. Justice takes this concept a step further by removing the barriers that impede equal rights and self-determination; it seeks to overturn oppression at its roots. The Steering Committee will strengthen our knowledge, skills, attitudes and personal competency to address inequity and injustice, internally and in our external efforts through continual practice of these core principles.

Intersectionality looks at the interaction of multiple social identities and how those identities separately and together are subjected to oppression and discrimination.

  • The Steering Committee challenges all of our partner organizations to be consistently intersectional in all of the work we do.
  • We unapologetically center the voices and experiences of LGBTQ youth and youth of color, while upholding that all of us have many identities.
  • We name white supremacy as any condition where whites overwhelmingly control power and material resources.
  • We will name and challenge conscious and unconscious ideas of white superiority, entitlement, and white dominance.

Learning and growing are the results of struggle. Struggle causes change and liberation. As an initiative we strive to engage in Principled Struggle (attributed to NTanya Lee) and work to foster and cultivate spaces for members, coalitions, and communities to move through conflict in a way that makes us better.

To do this, we each commit to:

  1. Being honest and direct while maintaining compassion.
  2. Taking responsibility for our own feelings and actions.
  3. Seeking deeper understanding. (We ask and read first).
  4. Considering social positions and how they inform response to conflict.

From john a. powell “A targeted universal strategy is one that is inclusive of the needs of both the dominant and the marginal groups, but pays particular attention to the situation of the marginal group. Targeted universalism rejects a blanket universal which is likely to be indifferent to the reality that different groups are situated differently relative to the institutions and resources of society. It also rejects the claim of formal equality that would treat all people the same as a way of denying difference.”

  • We commit to using targeted strategies to reach universal goals, mindful that blanket goals may be indifferent to the reality that groups are situated differently relative to the institutions and resources of society.
  • We commit to evaluating the outcomes of our efforts for all populations and not just the output.
  • As a transformative initiative, we seek out those campaigns and activities that have the greatest potential to improve the lives of young people experiencing homelessness.
  • We will reimagine opportunities to engage and win future fights that move us towards our long-term vision.

We commit to transforming power dynamics and systems. We want youth at the front lines of marginalization to have full decision making power when re-shaping systems to work better for them.

Accountability refers to creating processes and systems that are designed to help individuals and groups be held responsible for their decisions and actions and  whether the work being done reflects and embodies racial equity and justice principles.

  • Steering Committee members understand that accountability is a cornerstone of racial equity work, and are committed to the practice of white accountability in particular.
  • We pledge to continually evaluate and analyze our work against the following  questions:
    • How is the issue being defined? Who is defining it?
    • Who is this work going to benefit if it succeeds? Who will benefit if the work does not succeed?
    • How are assignments distributed among the stakeholders? How will a group know if its plan has accounted for risks and unintended consequences for different racial and ethnic groups?
    • What happens if people pull out before the goals are met?
    • Who anointed the people and groups being relied on for the answers to these questions?
    • Are there opportunities to diversify respondents to these questions?