White Folks Facing Race: Community Coordination Focused on Our Most Vulnerable Neighbors
[This is part of my White Folks Facing Race series, originally written on August 9, 2020 to an email group created for community members in the Washington, DC area.]
This last week was consumed by a bit more crisis management than usual, so I’m sorry I’m sending this later than normal. All is well, just navigating so much change and trying to provide useful guidance to our communities. I’m excited to share that this group now has over 200 members! We have grown so much in the past few months and I thank each and every one of you for engaging in this important work. I am proud to work with each of you.
I haven’t talked about our PTAs and school communities in a while. I want to recognize the amazing work they are doing in responding to the needs of our vulnerable families. You may know that I’m now the president of Arlington’s County Council PTA (CCPTA) and I’ve had the privilege of working with all of our PTAs and their local school efforts since schools closed. In a recent survey of these efforts, they are serving 2400–2500 people/families, not all of whom are connected to our schools, but all of whom need additional support during the pandemic. Volunteers with these efforts have given approximately 8000 hours from March-July. They are distributing food, gift cards, school supplies, baby supplies, books, cleaning supplies, and masks. We have been mostly in crisis mode since schools closed and needs are increasing. However, we are partnering more with existing safety-net nonprofits in Arlington, who have been doing this work for a long time and who have more capacity and flexibility with their funds than PTAs do. I’m hopeful that a more sustainable model will be developed, not just to make it easier on our volunteers, but to make it less burdensome on our vulnerable families to collect the various resources available to them each week.
Arlington County has a really useful data dashboard. It includes local COVID-19 disparities info by zip code and by race/ethnicity. This highlights particularly vulnerable populations in need of support during this time — systemic racism is across the board — health, employment, income, housing, education, etc. The projections are devastating and we need to be supporting and coordinating now to ensure that the safety net in place is more robust and efficient so as few of our neighbors as possible fall through the cracks. According to a recent AFAC report on their populations served, 1/3 of the over 14,000 people served are children, an increase of over 30% of their normal numbers. Latino people are over 50% of the population served (they are 15.8% of the population in Arl Co) and Black people are over 22% of the population served (they are just under 9% of the population in Arl Co).
So many people are talking about this that I wanted to highlight it: Nice White Parents podcast by the New York Times.
Also, if you missed it, APS released their draft Equity Policy. Please submit your feedback via Engage. A major question for me will be how it is implemented and how APS is held accountable to it.
Following up on my update from last week about the County logo, the NAACP issued its letter about the topic. Please keep writing to our County Board members about this issue. The more public support they hear for this effort, the more likely it will be to happen.
- Rachel Jones writes “The environmental movement is very white. These leaders want to change that.” (National Geographic, 7/29/20)
- Darryl Fears and Steven Mufson write “Liberal, progressive — and racist? The Sierra Club faces its white-supremacist history.” (Washington Post, 7/22/20)
- The Lakota People’s Law Project shared an interview with Jim Grijalva about DAPL and Environmental Justice
- Geoff Dembicki writes “A Legendary Black Environmental Group Is Back and Advising Joe Biden” (Vice, 7/30/20)
- Jay Mathews writes about “A family’s uncomfortable moments led to big changes at daughter’s school” (Washington Post, 7/26/20)
- Hannah Natanson writes “History meets mythology: Debate stirs over push to rename T.C. Williams High School, of ‘Remember the Titans’ fame” (Washington Post, 7/28/20)
- Li Cohen writes about the name change of Robert E. Lee High School in Fairfax County to John Lewis High School (CBS News, 7/23/20)
- Alex Wittenberg writes “How U.S. Poverty Could Spike in the Last Half of the Year” (CityLab, 7/29/20)
- Samantha Schmidt writes “Wage gap robs Black women in D.C. of almost $2 million over lifetime, analysis finds” (Washington Post, 7/29/20)
- Robert McCartney writes about “Nonprofits in trouble: One-third of organizations may not survive pandemic, recession” (Washington Post, 8/3/20)
- Andre Perry writes “Black college grads end up with $25,000 more in loans than whites. Cancel that debt.” (The Hechinger Report, 8/4/20)
- Kyle Swenson writes “Ten bucks left, no place to go: How the pandemic and a broken unemployment system are upending people’s lives” (Washington Post, 8/1/20)
- Tom Jackman writes “African American mayors lay out plan for police reform without ‘defunding’” (Washington Post, 7/27/20)
- Arlington for Justice is hosting Let’s Talk Tuesdays.
- The Arlington County Sheriff’s Office hired a new Behavioral Health Docket team member — I’m learning that a lot of police work involves responding to mental/behavioral health needs in our community.
- Arlington County has also established a Police Practices Work Group, which includes many community advocates and activists.
- Eugene Robinson writes “Trump (again) uses housing as a racial wedge” (Washington Post, 7/30/20)
- Annie Karni, Maggie Haberman, and Sydney Ember write about how “Trump Plays on Racist Fears of Terrorized Suburbs to Court White Voters” (New York Times, 7/29/20)
- Kriston Capps writes “What Does Trump Think the ‘Suburban Lifestyle Dream’ Means?” (CityLab, 7/30/20)
- Patrick Sisson writes “Covid-19 Is Killing Affordable Housing, Just as It’s Needed Most” (CityLab, 7/30/20)
- Annie Nova writes about “How the eviction crisis across the U.S. will look” (CNBC, 7/27/20)
- The Center for Public Integrity writes “People of color face mass homelessness as eviction moratoriums end” (People’s World, 7/22/20)
- Native Land Digital has an amazing map showing the many native people’s traditional lands.
- Alleen Brown writes “Trump’s Pick to Manage Public Lands has Four-Decade History of ‘Overt Racism’ Toward Native People” (The Intercept, 8/1/20)
ACTIONS AND EVENTS:
- The NAACP Civic Engagement Program has a voting rights campaign, “Black Voices Change Lives” and you can sign up to volunteer to help mobilize voters for November.
- Volunteer Arlington has a new campaign, Buy a Neighbor School Supplies, through August 23. Doorways has also started their Back to School Campaign.
- VOICE has an Action Team meeting on August 13 including an update on the No More Evictions campaign.
- The Arlington Committee of 100 is hosting APS Superintendent, Dr. Durán for a webinar on August 12.
- The Arlington Historical Society is hosting a virtual program on US Civil War “Colored Troops” in Arlington on August 13.
- Consider applying for Arlington’s Neighborhood College, a free civic leadership development program (deadline August 28).
- Race Forward is holding its annual national conference, Facing Race, virtually this year, from November 10–20.
- National Equity Atlas
- Candid Learning has a webinar on “Designing Equity-Centered Organizational Values”
- SURJ DC created “Ask Anne” to be an advice column about race, racism, and white supremacy. “The project honors Anne Braden (1924–2006) who was a white anti-racist organizer, journalist, and leader in racial justice movements in the South.”
- Sydney Trent writes “At 88, he is a historical rarity — the living son of a slave” (Washington Post, 7/27/20)
- Petula Dvorak writes “Is it cultural appropriation when a Black woman does Irish dance?” (Washington Post, 8/3/20)
- Michel Martin speaks with Portland NAACP President E. D. Mondainé about the protests, “Portland NAACP President On Protests As A ‘White Spectacle’” (NPR, 7/25/20)
- There’s a series of interviews called “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man” by Emmanuel Acho, which has the support of Oprah.
Thank you for engaging with these resources and for taking action.
Listen. Amplify. Follow.