White Folks Facing Race: Welcome People Into This Work
[This is part of my White Folks Facing Race series, originally written on November 30, 2020 to an email group created for community members in the Washington, DC area.]
I hope you all had a lovely and safe Thanksgiving. Whatever your winter holiday traditions might be, please take care of each other. As this part of the world enters its darkest season, be the light that reminds us that spring and warmth will come again. Stay strong, my friends.
I’m sharing important words from SURJ NoVa email on 11/18/20,
“Many of us are still wrestling with shame and anger over the millions of white people who turned out for Trump, and continue to defend him even in defeat. Y’all, the numbers tell us that our white kin went harder for Trump after four years of devastation than they did in 2016.
It would be tempting right now to put up a big wall between us and “those” white people, to claim “anti-racist” as a mantle for ourselves so we can soothe ourselves that we’re not like “them.”
But as SURJ National Director Erin Heaney has said, if we’re not organizing white people, someone else is.”
This is extremely important for all of us to remember. As we engage with this work, we must do so from a place of love and inclusion, particularly as others seek to divide and exclude. Those who are sent away from this work will find someone else who will welcome them. We must welcome people to this work, even when we reject their words or actions, one conversation at a time.
Facing Race in Arlington is hosting a discussion on December 10 about taking action. I sent out a message about it last week and you can register here — https://forms.gle/4Kp2FRQetxP3aWfW9.
I’m excited to share that the CCPTA has partnered with FreshFarm to provide bags of fresh produce to approximately 900 Arlington families in December. Based on how much funding is raised, the CCPTA and community volunteers will receive a bulk delivery of produce, which will then be bagged and transported to seven PTA/school-based distribution efforts to be given to families the week of December 14. I am very excited to share that APS is supporting our effort by making the Washington-Liberty High School parking deck available for the bulk delivery and bagging process. We are so grateful for their support and assistance in making this possible. Please share this information widely — we are trying to meet our fundraising goal by December 4.
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There’s a group of Arlington parents working on school boundaries, equity, and desegregation advocacy. If you want to get involved, please let me know and I can connect you!
Additionally, I’m so excited to share that Arlington County officially has an Integrated Schools chapter! From the coordinator, who is also a group member: “Integrated Schools is a community of primarily white and/or privileged parents who are intentionally, joyfully and humbly enrolling their kids in integrating schools. We believe that integrated schools produce better outcomes for all students. We also acknowledge white and/or privileged parents have been the key barrier to school integration and educational equity — by using our privilege to access more heavily-resourced schools, organizing our political power against policies that would put our children in majority black and brown schools, assuming that those schools are broken and need us to fix them. The primary purpose of the Integrated Schools movement is to change these behaviors and attitudes through grassroots organizing, one-on-one parent mentoring, book/podcast discussions, and advocacy. If you want to join or are interested in learning more, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Related to this, I wanted to share “School Segregation by Boundary Line in Virginia: Scope, Significance and State Policy Solutions” (PDF) (Penn State Center for Education and Civil Rights and Virginia Commonwealth University School of Education, November 2020), particularly the following:
“School attendance boundaries are a key force behind within-district segregation, suggesting that redrawing attendance boundaries to create more diverse schools is an important lever for change in Virginia’s major metro area school divisions. School choice in the form of open enrollment, specialty schools and the like is almost certainly an additional factor within divisions, though it is impossible to determine the extent of choice-related segregation with existing data.” (p. 7)
“Rezoning, then, is a relatively frequent occurrence in the Virginia divisions reviewed, and one that impacts many students and could help drive integration, particularly in the state’s large metropolitan regions. However, current policies often leave out the necessary integration impetus. Even among those divisions that have undertaken rezoning with integration as an intended outcome, policies and criteria with clarity of purpose and priorities as well as measurable goals could help intent better match outcomes.” (p. 18)
“Studies also found that, in the nation’s urban school districts, neighborhood schools would be less racially segregated if all assigned students opted into them.60 In other words, private, charter and magnet school options all contribute to racial segregation in the district as advantaged families take advantage of these alternatives. The same authors also found that school desegregation policies helped reduce racial segregation.” (p. 24)
“…once families in a metropolitan community understand that they can move to any neighborhood, urban or suburban, and remain connected to a school with roughly the same demographics and performance as other schools in the community, the link weakens between residential and educational decisions.” (p. 25)
Let’s also keep in mind the difference between desegregation and integration. Desegregation means that the demographic makeup of every school roughly reflects the demographic breakdown of the countywide student body. Integration means that every student feels welcome and included, every student sees themselves reflected in their teachers and school administrators, and every student sees themselves positively represented in a culturally responsive curriculum. Integration is the goal — desegregation is a step in that direction.
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As always, here are some resources to support your journey and your work. Also see below for some ways to support your community this holiday season.
LOCAL NEWS and OPPORTUNITIES FOR ACTION:
- Arlington County Board Accepts Restorative Justice Plan (11/17/20) — you can read it here.
- Green Valley Town Square to be Named for John Robinson, Jr. (11/17/20) — and a note, if you see people still using “Nauck” please remind them that the name officially changed back to Green Valley, as it was called when it was settled by free African Americans in 1844.
- Arlington County is accepting online feedback related to its Police Chief Search. There is also one more virtual community forum on December 1.
- The City Neighbors Foundation is hosting the 10th Annual Progressive Education Summit in January.
- OAR is launching its next three-month virtual cohorts focused on racial justice, from January to March 2021 and April-June 2021.
- Virginia Festival of the Book is hosting a free, virtual event with author Matthew Desmond who will discuss his book Evicted: Proverty and Profit in the American City on December 9.
- Arlington County is requesting feedback on its Missing Middle Housing Study through December 31.
- Arlington County is requesting feedback on its FY 2022–2026 Consolidated Plan related to housing and community development.
- The Alliance for Housing Solutions held an award event on November 15 and shared details in “Bozman Award Focuses on Keeping People in Homes During Pandemic” (11/17/20)
- Revolutionary Humans has rebooted its website and has wonderful resources for lots of things with kids, including turning kindness into action for social justice.
- Theresa Vargas writes “Behind a national memorial for Native American veterans, stories of slow loss, swift change and boots two sizes too big” (Washington Post, 11/11/20)
- Teaching Tolerance includes The Forgotten History of Our Ancestors in its Teaching Hard History: American Slavery film resources, a film about the “forgotten history of Indigenous enslavement.”
- Rachel Ramirez writes “How the Navajo Nation helped Democrats win Arizona” (Vox, 11/12/20)
- The Indigenous Solidarity Network shared a “Rethinking ‘Thanksgiving’ Toolkit”
GENDER and SEXUAL ORIENTATION JUSTICE:
- Brianna Rhodes writes “There’s No Liberation For Anyone if Black Trans Folks Are Not Free” (Blavity, 11/13/20)
- The Movement for Black Lives has a policy platform to “End the War on Black Trans, Queer, Gender Nonconforming and Intersex People”
- Equality Virginia shared a document put together by many organizations for “Transgender Student Policy Recommendations for Virginia’s K-12 Schools” (6/25/20)
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM and POLICING:
- Rachel Weiner writes “Arlington’s top prosecutor, defender clash with judge” (Washington Post, 11/13/20). A HUGE thanks to Parisa Dehghani-Tafti and Brad Haywood for taking on this important work.
- Tom Jackman and Dan Morse write “Police de-escalation training gaining renewed clout as law enforcement seeks to reduce killings” (Washington Post, 10/27/20)
- Emily Nonko writes “The ‘Airbnb for Returning Citizens’ Gives People More Than Just a Second Chance” (Next City, 11/10/20)
- Elizabeth Lawrence writes “In medical schools, students seek robust and mandatory anti-racist training” (Washington Post, 11/8/20)
FOOD INSECURITY and POVERTY:
- Laura Reiley writes “Anti-hunger groups call on Biden to reverse some of Trump’s signature initiatives” (Washington Post, 11/13/20)
- The National Low Income Housing Coalition highlighted “Poverty Projections Illustrate Need for Federal Relief Package” (11/16/20) related to the report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities “Weakened Economy, Widespread Hardship Show Urgent Need for Further Relief” (11/10/20)
- The National Low Income Housing Coalition and The University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law Innovation for Justice program released a report on the “Costs of Covid-19 Evictions” (11/19/20)
- Yonat Shimron writes “Study: Multiracial churches are growing, but racial unity may be elusive” (Washington Post, 11/13/20)
VOTING RIGHTS AND ELECTIONS:
- Petula Dvorak writes “Black women have been speaking for years. Maybe now, the rest of America will listen.” (Washington Post, 11/9/20)
- Lyz Lenz writes “White women vote Republican. Get used to it, Democrats.” (Washington Post, 11/27/20), particularly “This is because, as a political force, White female rage has long been better at enforcing patriarchal norms than dismantling them. Why? Quite frankly, White women benefit from the status quo, while change would require burning down that system and building a new one — one where they and their children might lose the shared superiority and protection they get by being attached to powerful White men.”
- Maria Eloisa Capurro writes “Trump’s Latino Support Was Overlooked by Pollsters That Lack Diversity” (Bloomberg, 11/18/20)
- Darryl Fears writes “Shingle Mountain: How a pile of toxic pollution was dumped in a community of color” (Washington Post, 11/16/20)
- Colin Sterling and Rodney Harrison write “Climate crisis: how museums could inspire radical action” (The Conversation, 11/18/20)
- Kristina Rizga writes “How to Teach American History in a Divided Country” (The Atlantic, 11/8/20)
- Conor P. Williams and Shantel Meek write “OPINION: U.S. public schools should be federally funded” (Hechinger Report, 11/6/20)
- The National PTA’s Center for Family Engagement’s Notes From the Backpack podcast focused on “Raising Kids Who Embrace Race” in their 11/4/20 episode.
- Andre Perry writes “COLUMN: Dear Black students: Don’t let white efforts at miseducation deny your legacy” (Hechinger Report, 11/24/20)
- Emily Yahr writes “One name, two musical acts and a story of privilege: How the Lady A controversy captured the state of the music industry in 2020” (Washington Post, 11/11/20)
- Hank Stuever writes “BET’s ‘Smoke’ shows how Black Americans deserve a piece of marijuana’s growing fortunes” (Washington Post, 11/17/20)
- Hank Stuever writes “‘Between the World and Me’ was already a must-read. With HBO’s adaptation, it’s also a must-watch.” (Washington Post, 11/20/20)
- Courtland Milloy writes “Biden speaking about systemic racism is a win. But the battle is just beginning.” (Washington Post, 11/14/20)
- Tony Briscoe, Haru Coryne, and Mick Dumke write “Disinvested: How Government and Private Industry Let the Main Street of a Black Neighborhood Crumble” (ProPublica, 11/11/20)
- The Baltimore Sun Editorial Board writes “Devaluing Black neighborhoods: Redfin accused of the latest form of redlining | COMMENTARY” (Baltimore Sun, 11/10/20)
- Susan Nembhard and Krista White write “It’s Time to Declare Racism a Public Health Issue” (Urban Institute, 11/11/20)
- Carroll Bogert and LynNell Hancock write “Superpredator: The Media Myth That Demonized a Generation of Black Youth” (The Marshall Project)
Listen. Amplify. Follow.