White Folks Facing Race: What Actions Will You Commit to in 2021?

[This is part of my White Folks Facing Race series, originally written on December 29, 2020 to an email group created for community members in the Washington, DC area.]

Hi Friends!

I hope you’re all finding joy and comfort in this year’s holiday season. I apologize for my lack of updates during December — now it’s time to get caught up before the beginning of the new year. Please take time this week to reflect on your accomplishments and growth this past year and recommit to the work you intend to engage in during the coming year. What actions can you commit to taking in 2021?

I want to thank all of you who supported and contributed to the CCPTA’s collaboration with FreshFarm to provide bags of fresh produce to 900 families earlier this month. You can read more here.

Please engage with the news about Dr. Susan Moore and her medical care before she died of covid-19 (Fenit Nirappil for Washington Post, 12/24/20). There are many articles and opinions available that can inform your awareness about racism in our medical care system and encourage you to take action to ensure that quality care is available to every community member, without discrimination or bias.

Please also be uplifted by the words and faces of these “32 Young Activists Who Are Changing the World” (by Julia Pimentel, Carolyn Bernucca, Kevin L. Clark, and Manseen Logan, Complex, 11/17/20).

EDUCATION AND STUDENT SUPPORT DURING THE PANDEMIC:
- Donna St. George writes “Failing grades double and triple — some rising sixfold — amid pandemic learning” (Washington Post, 12/3/20)
- Lauren Lumpkin writes “U-Md. student government will distribute $400,000 to students facing hardships, mental health challenges” (Washington Post, 12/3/20)
- Hannah Natanson writes “Virginia schools plan gradual reopening as evidence of online learning gap piles up” (Washington Post, 12/3/20)
- Laura Meckler and Hannah Natanson write “‘A lost generation’: Surge of research reveals students sliding backward, most vulnerable worst affected” (Washington Post, 12/6/20)
- Richard Carranza, Austin Beutner, and Janice Jackson write “We need a Marshall Plan for our schools. And we need it now.” (Washington Post, 12/13/20)
- Hannah Natanson “Arlington students are failing at higher rates. The most vulnerable are struggling most.” (Washington Post, 12/17/20)
- Donna St. George writes “‘Equity hubs’ give families struggling financially a chance at pandemic pods” (Washington Post, 12/25/20)
- Jennifer Blatz writes “OPINION: Time to rethink how we measure student progress in education” (The Hechinger Report, 12/3/20). The subtitle is “Schools that focus on overcoming barriers to racism and poverty are finding success during tough times.”
- Cayla Bamberger writes “Is the pandemic our chance to reimagine education for students with disabilities?” (The Hechinger Report, 12/7/20)
- Michole Washington and Vanessa Vakharia write “OPINION: What math class and police brutality have in common” (The Hechinger Report, 11/30/20). The subtitle is “An obsession with rule-following cuts short Black students’ opportunities.”
- Bracey Harris, Meredith Kolodner, and Neal Morton write “Rundown schools forced more students to go remote” (The Hechinger Report, 11/25/20)
- Rebecca Klein writes “They didn’t turn in their work for remote school. Their parents were threatened with courts and fines” (The Hechinger Report, 12/14/20)
- Kavitha Cardoza writes “‘Backpacks full of boulders’: How one district is addressing the trauma undocumented children bring to school” (The Hechinger Report, 12/14/20)
- The Learning Policy Institute shared a report by Jeannie Oakes, Danny Espinoza, Linda Darling-Hammond, Carmen Gonzales, Jennifer DePaoli , Tara Kini, Gary Hoachlander, Dion Burns, Michael Griffith, Melanie Leung called “Improving Education the New Mexico Way: An Evidence-Based Approach” (12/1/20). Of particular note, “The authors describe how the state can center the design of its educational system on the diverse needs of its students of color and students from low-income families, who represent most of the state’s population, rather than placing them at the periphery where they might get “special” help” (emphasis mine).
- Cayla Bamberger, Sarah Butrymowicz, Jackie Mader, and Caroline Preston write “Thousands of families in special education limbo” (The Hechinger Report, 12/18/20)
- Equality Virginia and Side By Side VA shared: “The Virginia Department of Education has publicly shared a draft of their transgender policy guidance for K-12 public schools in Virginia. They are seeking public comment via the Virginia Town Hall website between January 4, 2021 — February 4, 2021.” You can learn more about upcoming LGBTQ-related bills by attending Equality Virginia’s Bagels and Bills events.

FOOD INSECURITY AND POVERTY:
- Laura Reiley writes “Going it alone in two of America’s agricultural towns” (Washington Post, 12/8/20)
- Robert McCartney writes “Growing threat of hunger in a wealthy region is blunt example of economic inequality” (Washington Post, 12/14/20)
- Heather Long writes “Nearly 8 million Americans have fallen into poverty since the summer” (Washington Post, 12/16/20)
- Brad Bennett writes “‘Housing, Not Handcuffs’: SPLC, allies end police harassment of people panhandling in Montgomery, Alabama” (Southern Poverty Law Center, 12/14/20)
- Levi Pulkkinen writes “Coronavirus means school food is free across the U.S. What if it stayed that way?” (The Hechinger Report, 11/24/20)
- Caroline Alexander writes “Scotland Takes Aim at ‘Period Poverty’ by Making Products Free” (Bloomberg Businessweek, 12/1/20)
- CityLab created a video called “The Global Food System Is Also a Victim of Covid” (12/2/20)
- Brentin Mock writes “The Right to Flush and Forget” (CityLab, 12/15/20)

The weight of all of these resources is so heavy and can feel really hopeless. Take a step back and see the forest. This is systemic racism and discrimination, undeniably in our faces. Our systems are created intentionally with gaps and cracks that allow people to fall through, without a safety net to catch them. What can we do as a society, as a collection of people who care about these issues, to push for stronger support systems for our most vulnerable community members? What can we do to ensure that even in the worst circumstances, children and their families are not left behind, left hungry, left without access to information and opportunity? What steps can you identify in your spheres of privilege to leverage your power to dismantle these racist systems and put something more robust and equitable in their place?

ACKNOWLEDGING HISTORY AND BRINGING TRUTH TO LIGHT:
- Sydney Trent writes “A massive new effort to name millions sold into bondage during the transatlantic slave trade” (Washington Post, 12/1/20)
- Susan Svrluga writes “Descendants of enslaved Blacks explore Virginia history” (Washington Post, 12/13/20)
- Stephanie García writes “A UMBC professor is documenting the history of the Lumbee Indian community in Baltimore” (Washington Post, 12/13/20)
- Barry Svrluga writes “Baseball is finally addressing its racist past, but its work can’t end there” (Washington Post, 12/16/20)
- Dave Sheinin writes “The Negro Leagues are now ‘major league’ in eyes of MLB, its stats a part of official record” (Washington Post, 12/16/20)
- Bethonie Butler writes “Taraji P. Henson wants Black people to talk more openly about mental health. Her new show does just that.” (Washington Post, 12/14/20)
- Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang write “Decolonization is not a metaphor” (PDF) (Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society, Vol. 1, №1, 2012, pp.1–40)
- Brentin Mock writes “How America Has Racialized Medicine During Epidemics” (CityLab, 4/14/20)
- Richard Frishman writes “Hidden in Plain Sight: The Ghosts of Segregation” (New York Times, 11/30/20)
- Congratulations to Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM) who was chosen by Biden to serve as his Secretary of the Interior, the first time in U.S. history that a Native American person was nominated to fill a Cabinet position (via Lakota People’s Law Project, 12/17/20). More from Aliyah Chavez in Indian Country Today (12/17/20).
- Ariel Aberg-Riger writes “‘Solidarity, Not Charity’: A Visual History of Mutual Aid” (CityLab, 12/22/20)

HOUSING AND INFRASTRUCTURE:
- Morgan Baskin writes “Luxury Ghost Towns” (Slate, 12/14/20)
- The National Low Income Housing Coalition writes “Voucher Waitlist Management Practices Disadvantage Poorest Applicants” (12/14/20)
- Check out the “Opportunity Starts At Home” campaign.
- Kriston Capps writes “U.S. Renters Could Owe $70 Billion” (CityLab, 12/10/20). The subtitle is “By January, when the federal eviction moratorium expires, 11.4 million households in the U.S. might be more than three months behind in their rent, or $6,000 each.”
- Patrick Sisson writes “In Many Cities, Climate Change Will Flood Affordable Housing” (CityLab, 12/1/20)
- Hallie Golden writes “As Homelessness Rises in Seattle, So Does a Native American Housing Solution” (CityLab, 12/17/20)
- Martin J. Walsh and LaToya Cantrell write “The Covid Recovery Must Begin With Climate Action” (CityLab, 12/22/20)
- Kriston Capps writes “Why Trump’s ‘Beautiful’ Federal Building Order May Be Here to Stay” (CityLab, 12/23/20)

CRIMINAL SYSTEM AND POLICING:
- Matthew Clair writes “Unequal Before the Law: How did we end up with our current system of public defenders?” (The Nation, 12/14/20)
- The ACLU writes “What 100 Years of History Tells Us About Racism in Policing” (12/11/20)
- Todd Feathers writes “Facial Recognition Company Lied to School District About its Racist Tech” (Vice, 12/1/20)
- Pierre H. Bergeron writes “How a Spreadsheet Could Change the Criminal-Justice System” (The Atlantic, 12/14/20)
- Kim Barker, Michael H. Keller, and Steve Eder write “How Cities Lost Control of Police Discipline” (New York Times, 12/22/20)

WHITE SUPREMACY:
- David Ignatius writes “Inside the white supremacist global network” (Washington Post, 12/1/20)
- Nneka McGuire writes “Ijeoma Oluo’s ‘Mediocre’ dissects white supremacy in America. She’d rather be writing about something else.” (Washington Post, 12/3/20)
- Ron Charles writes “Roald Dahl was anti-Semitic. Do we need his family’s apology now?” (Washington Post, 12/7/20)
- William H. Lamar IV writes “My church will replace our Black Lives Matter sign. Will America replace its racist myth?” (Washington Post, 12/15/20)
- Brentin Mock writes “How to Diversify Trump County” (CityLab, 12/11/20). The subtitle is “New billboard artwork across Westmoreland, Pennsylvania, is seeking to promote diversity and inclusion in an aging county that’s 95% white.”
- Annie Karni writes “In a meeting with Biden, the N.A.A.C.P. pushes for a civil rights envoy position in the White House.” (New York Times, 12/8/20)

EVENTS AND ACTIONS:
- Volunteer Arlington is hosting its annual MLK Day of Service virtually this year on January 18. Sign up by January 14.
- The National Day of Racial Healing is scheduled for January 19, 2021.
- Provide feedback to Arlington County about the FY 2022 Budget — this is a great chance to speak up for what priorities you think Arlington’s budget should focus on — think equity and submit your answers!
- When you’re planning to buy books, purchase from Black-Owned Bookstores (Publishers Weekly, 6/3/20)
- As a personal practice, or when you’re meeting with people (virtually or in person), ground yourselves by acknowledging the Native Land you’re occupying. Normalize these kinds of recognitions as part of your racial justice work.
- Learn more about organizations like the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) that works to support vulnerable children.
- Listen to voices of color: try Adrienne Maree Brown, Prentis Hemphill, and Mariame Kaba.
- SURJ NoVa shared an opportunity to practice “Talking to Friends & Family About Racism” — the link takes you to a form to request one-on-one coaching sessions.
- There will be a “SRO Work Group Community Engagement Session” on January 13 with APS’s SRO Work Group.
- Arlington County is still collecting feedback about its Missing Middle Housing Survey until December 31.

LOCAL NEWS:
- Thanks in large part to the activism and leadership of the Arlington Branch NAACP, Arlington County has approved the process to choose a new logo!
- Arlington County has implemented a Body Worn Camera Program in its Police Department, thanks to the long-term and more recent advocacy of community members pushing for police reform measures.
- The Working Group on Renaming Lee Highway recommended “Mildred & Richard Loving Avenue, honoring the couple who fought for marriage equality for interracial couples.” (Lee Highway Alliance, 12/11/20)
- “The Black Heritage Museum of Arlington is now closed until further notice. As many of you may know, our current location (building) has been sold and we will be relocating.” In the meantime, you can support them here.
- In part due to the APS finding that “Reading Proficiency Among K-2 Students Trending Down Amid Pandemic” (Jo DeVoe, ArlNow, 12/4/20), the Arlington Branch NAACP Education Committee is partnering with Dyslexic Edge Academy (YouTube) to offer free “STEM enrichment and structured literacy instruction for up to 20 struggling readers who show signs of dyslexia.” Thanks to Symone Walker for spearheading the effort and for sharing the news!
- Congratulations to Yolande Kwinana for receiving the 2020 Charles P. Monroe Civil Rights Award by the Arlington Branch NAACP at the Freedom Fund Banquet on December 17, 2020!
- Arlington County has shared additional materials as part of its DRE program, including a Together Partner Toolkit.

Thank you for wading through all of these wonderful resources! How can I support your goals in 2021? Please reach out!

Emily
Listen. Amplify. Follow.

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Mom, Activist, Community Organizer

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