Impact of COVID-19 in Communities of Color

The Forward Promise Village of grantees have pivoted in these past few weeks to respond to the rapidly unfolding, multi-faceted crises created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our most vulnerable communities and populations have been hard hit by this disaster. Forward Promise coordinated several approaches to gain a deeper understanding of our grantees’ needs and what they are doing to effectively support boys and young men of color (BYMOC) and their families during this time. This document outlines the challenges emerging in their communities and solutions they are developing to ensure that BYMOC and their villages continue on the path to healing, growing, and thriving.


Disrupting Dehumanization and Affirming the Humanity of BYMOC and Their Villages

What is dehumanization? It is the persistent invalidation of humanity through perceptions or actual treatment. At the center of dehumanization is the pervasive idea that people of color do not need, and are not worthy of basic human dignities. Dehumanization threatens the healthy development of BYMOC and their villages and manifests in the narratives, policies, and practices that impact them.

Dehumanization is the cause of generations of historical trauma. The cycle begins with negative narratives that label people of color—particularly boys and young men—violent, criminal, and animalistic. To combat the perceived threat, dangerous actions are taken by the majority culture and systems which further dehumanize BYMOC. As a result, BYMOC and their villages often hold harmful internal feelings of unworthiness taught by their oppressors. It is not uncommon for them to engage in various forms of self-harm or to harm others. These destructive external reactions are not explained as normal responses to trauma. Stories of their negative reactions become justification for more negative narratives and the cycle begins again

Source: Forward Promise National Program Office