Gandhi famously argued that society's moral measure was its treatment of the vulnerable. Few members of society experience vulnerability more than children. When families fail their children, government and civil society have a moral and legal charge to intervene. But the road to hell is paved with good intentions. In the United States, there exists a fraught intersection between child welfare and anti-Black racism that has its roots in chattel slavery and the Black Codes that restricted African American freedoms following the Civil War. Today, Black children are twice as likely to be deemed victims of child maltreatment compared to white children, and even more likely to be removed from their parents and adopted out to strangers.
The Ethics of Protection responds to these dire realities with a liberationist approach to child welfare ethics. This approach differs from traditional ethics in two ways: It moves the "social location" of ethics from governing bodies, boardrooms, and institutions to the perspective of society's most vulnerable. And it critiques neoliberal politics and economics for their role in this injustice. Drawing on historical analysis, Catholic social teaching, Scripture, and the experience of the oppressed, The Ethics of Protection reframes the ethical issues surrounding child welfare by centering the stories, challenges, failures, and victories of Black families.
Authentic freedom will not be initiated by government officials. Change will only come from the coordinated direct actions of parents, children, and activists supporting systemic change grounded in racial justice. This book presents readers with an alternative story of the Black family to combat the anti-Black narratives that dominate US culture.