My name is Noah McKee, I am a rising junior studying Political Science and African & African American studies. Through this academic pursuit I look to pursue social justice work in fields of law, prison reform/police reform, and or institutional equity work. This summer, I will be working with the Guardian ad Litem program based in Charlotte, NC. Guardian ad Litem is a state mandated program that works to represent youth in cases specifically of abuse or neglect. Part of the initiative of Guardian ad Litem works to bridge the gap between social workers, courts, and families by creating volunteer roles that exist in the spaces created by all of those different aspects of the process of protecting/serving youth.
My interest in this field of social work ties directly in with my interest in dismantling the current injustice system. Throughout my time this summer I hope to learn about the institutions that touch on the themes of youth development, and the ways that systems are involved in the socialization and maturation of young people into society. Additionally, part of my work alongside learning and training with Guardian ad Litem to become a fully practicing volunteer, I am being included in the Race Matters for Juvenile Justice initiative (RMJJ). As a team of individuals from various career backgrounds, judges and attorneys, law enforcement, social workers, etc. RMJJ works directly to challenge the racial disparities that cause unfair treatment and criminalization of Black and Brown youth. Due to the unfortunate overlap between Guardian ad Litem clients and the Black and Brown demographic being served by RMJJ, I will be able to work simultaneously with both programs to learn about and address tangible manifestations of systemic racism.
Particularly in the midst of a national context of protest due to police brutality and other manifestations of systemic racism, hearing about the work that the RMJJ team is undertaking has been uplifting. It’s very easy to be disheartened as well as outraged at the lack of progress that the country has made in dismantling racism, but being privy to/proximal to a team of people from various career backgrounds in the justice system who are committed to reducing racial disparities in the Charlotte Mecklenburg county restores a bit of hope for the future.