A Message from UNICEF USA President and CEO Michael J. Nyenhuis on Children and Racial Justice

April 20, 2021


In the wake of the verdict of the trial for the murder of George Floyd, UNICEF USA remains deeply concerned about well-documented harmful consequences of systemic racism on Black, Indigenous and other children of color. 

All children have a right to grow up free from racism, violence and hate and to be safe in their neighborhoods and in their homes. UNICEF has always worked and advocated for programs and policies around the world that protect the rights of children and combat oppression. We have worked at the community level to center the needs of children in local governance, meaningfully engage them in conversations about equity and social justice and tackle inequities. We will continue to prioritize this important work.

We also know that children and youth must be included as essential partners in the fight against racism. As UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore recently noted: “From attacks against people of Asian descent, to violence against Black men and women, to the profiling of Muslims and the oppression of indigenous peoples – these incidents are a manifestation of the entrenched systemic inequalities and biases that are taught from one generation to the next. Children and young people have the unique power to break this chain of hatred. And they have been speaking up – loudly, clearly and consistently – to demand an end to racism, intolerance and inequality.”

As we lift up the voices of youth, we also commit to continue to look at ourselves and our own organization. As UN Secretary-General António Guterres recently reminded us: “Wherever we see racism, we must condemn it without reservation, without hesitation, without qualification. This includes looking into our own hearts and minds. Each of us needs to ask: Am I and my society racist? And what must I do to correct it?”

At UNICEF USA, we are committed to create a healthy future for children, and that future depends on our actions to confront racism and injustice.