White Folks Facing Race: Solidarity with Honesty and Compassion
I hope you’re all well and finding your way clear-eyed and hopeful. One month until summer!
I have been circling around a few themes this month that I wanted to share with you. The first is how important memory and history are to our current understanding of the world and to our ability to solve our problems. It is essential that we advocate actively for honest history and for honoring those we would want to be in solidarity with if they were still alive.
For example, Simon Maghakyan writes “Opinion: This unsung Colorado hero is actually worthy of memorializing” about Silas Soule, who refused to participate in the Sand Creek Massacre and testified against its perpetrators, likely resulting in his assassination in 1865 when he was 26 year old.
Learning for Justice Magazine, Issue 2, Spring 2022 “explores various perspectives on teaching honest history: what happens when we don’t, how educators are overcoming attempts to stop it, views from communities who are often left out of these conversations — namely rural and Indigenous — and why it matters.”
And in encouraging news, Cathryn Strout writes “Tennessee is close to becoming the next state to require Black History education.” Perhaps this is a model other states can use to address curriculum deficits.
While we’re thinking about schools (one of my favorite topics!), I wanted to share that The Urban Institute has two fabulous and eye-opening interactive tools:
- “Which Students Receive a Greater Share of School Funding?” can be used to understand state by state how progressive funding is for low income students, urban/rural students, and students of color in public schools.
- “How Much Does Your School Contribute to Segregation?” can be used to understand how your school compares to your district’s racial demographics. It can also help you find a school that is more integrated and/or more accurately reflects your district’s demographics if you’re open to making a different school choice.
After finding ourselves zoned for a very segregated school here in Denver when we relocated here last summer, we are exploring schools nearby that better reflect the student demographics of the district overall. This is a complex, personal process, taking many things into account, and I’m happy to answer questions you might have if you’re curious to learn. I just know that my kids need to learn in an environment that looks more like their diverse, heterogeneous community, not their current homogenous school, in order to prepare them to live and work and be in solidarity with their future communities.
To encourage all of you to advocate for our public education system, check out the HEAL Together Pledge — for solidarity with others who believe that we need to advocate for robust, fully funded, honest public education for our children. I hope it will inspire you to take action locally or beyond.
And finally, I have been consciously working to incorporate more humanity and compassion into my life and my work. It is hard for me to unlearn a punitive way of responding to behavior from others that makes me uncomfortable (often from my children!). A punitive approach separates people from each other when they are struggling and is steeped in white supremacy. I have been learning more about restorative justice and there are resources out there for applying this approach to families! Check these out.
I am also grateful for Elisabeth Long’s “Bringing Our Humanity to the Long Work of Change” — a conversation between Suzanne Pharr and Linda Evans. Here’s a small piece, “Building community is critically important for the rejuvenation of all of our people, but also because these circles are places where organizing takes place, and momentum takes place towards solving the problems that we’re suffering from.”
May you each build a community that loves you and nourishes your work.
Listen. Amplify. Follow. In Solidarity.