Preparing for the New Year

Hi Friends!
We have set the date for hosting the IntegratedSchools presentation for Saturday, January 12. I plan to start getting the word out around December 27 when people might start checking their email again. If you can please share the invitation with your groups and email lists at that time, I would really appreciate it. If any of you have visual skills (making my text flyer look appealing), could you let me know if you can help me? And if you’re available to attend or to help out with logistics, I’d love your assistance. Just let me know how you can help in the new year!
A reminder that a group member is looking for company to chat with the W-L principal about some ways the school can minimize the presence of Lee. Please let me know if you’re interested.
Our group members have been so wonderful about sending me articles and resources to share!
(1) A new study discussed in The Washington Post about how white liberals dumb down their language when speaking to black people.
(2) The Atlantic published a story on “How Well-Intentioned White Families Can Perpetuate Racism”.(3) If you’re looking for some new reading material for the coming year, check out Race/Related’s list.
For those of you interested in the Challenging Racism discussion series, they are currently accepting applications (deadline is December 28). The 11 sessions run from January to May from 7:00–9:30 pm and applicants need to commit to attending all of the sessions.
If you have any requests for topics or speakers or content for the new year, please let me know. I love hearing about what you’re doing and what interests you!
Listen. Amplify. Follow.

Food Insecurity and After School Enrichment

Hi Friends!
Happy December! I hope you’re all finding some calm during this hectic holiday season. Please let me know if you’re able to come to our next small group meeting on Monday. These meetings are super laid-back and we just chat about whatever is on our minds.
Thank you so much to those who offered to help with the January IntegratedSchools event. If you would like to be on this event committee (either helping before, during, or after), please let me know. I’ll be keeping detailed conversations about the event to a smaller group of interested people, so please add your name to the list if you’re in!
There are so many things going on, but I know the holiday season makes people nuts, so I’ll keep this update short. I have two school-related equity issues for your consideration and I’d love your input and thoughts.
(1) I’ve been working on finding out about local students who are experiencing food insecurity (they can’t count on having food at home). I know that the local food assistance center has a Backpack Buddies program and I’m learning that some schools have parent-run programs. I’ve been trying to coordinate with others in the county who might have knowledge or connections or experience with addressing this issue because it seems to be a need that isn’t being filled in a consistent and sustained way. If any of you have experience at your schools with this, or know of County services that might be available, or know about community partnerships that have been helpful, or anything else that might contribute to getting the right people at the table to discuss this and create a solution, please let me know. I’d love to hear any ideas or connections you think of.
(2) Related to that is after-school enrichment programming. Some schools seem to be finding outside/private funding to support their enrichment programs, especially for those schools with a high population of students from low-income families. Does anyone in the group have experience with what those funding avenues might be and what kind of options school administrators might have for bringing quality after-school enrichment to their students? Grants? Community partnerships? What’s happening/working/not working? I know that Title I funding has been further restricted in recent years to only pay for core-related enrichment (reading, math, science), which really limits schools without significant additional funding available to pay for these programs.
Thank you for considering these questions and for helping me to bring together problem-solvers who are knowledgeable and/or working on these issues.
A few resources from our group members:
(1) The Brookings Institute released a report on “The devaluation of assets in black neighborhoods”.
(2) Integrated Schools shared a video mapping how white and privilege families interact with school integration.
(3) WAMU had a Conversation with Nikole Hannah Jones & Eve Ewing on 1A about The Persistence of Segregated Schools.
Listen. Amplify. Follow.

Educating Ourselves

Hi Friends!
So many resources and bits of information for all of you this time! I’m working through a backlog of wonderful resources I’ve been collecting (thank you to those of you who send me things to share!), so please bear with me and the length of this email.
First, we need to settle on a date for the Integrated Schools presentation. We had planned on a weekend in January before the Kindergarten Information Night currently scheduled for January 28. I believe January 12 or 13 would be our best opportunity. I’ll be booking a library location, I think, unless anyone has a better venue suggestion. We’ll need an internet connection and ideally a projection screen/laptop connection for the live feed.
(1) Do you have a date/time preference?
(2) Can you help during the event? (setup/cleanup, refreshments, supplies)
(3) Can you help get the word out beforehand, either to email lists or otherwise?
(4) Do you have any questions/concerns about this event?
I recently had the opportunity to speak with a consultant who is working with the school district to address its diversity and inclusion. If you would like to contribute to the data and feedback he is collecting, I will happily pass it along to him.
I spoke at the School Board Elementary School Boundary Process hearing last night, and there were quite a few of our group members there, too! Thank you for taking the time to advocate. It was very interesting hearing so many parents in the room talk about segregation and preventing Columbia Pike from becoming another Route 50. No matter your perspective on individual opinions, the number of people willing to name segregation and speaking about keeping diverse communities together was encouraging.
One of our group members has a student at W-L and is interested in advocating with the principal about the pending name change (or at least taking down the Lee portraits while it’s being discussed). If anyone would like to join her in this effort, let me know and I’ll connect you.
Some community events:
(1) Challenging Racism is hosting Table Topics on Thursday, November 29 at 7:30 pm at the Central Library (Quincy Room). All are welcome.
(2) Leslie Mac is hosting an Allies in Action Bootcamp from March 28–31 in the Highlands of North Carolina.
(3) None of Us is Free Until All of Us Are Free workshop series, December 12 at 7 pm.
(4) Wilma Jones is speaking at the Black History Museum of Arlington on Wednesday, December 5 at 7:00 pm about her book My Halls Hill Family: More Than a Neighborhood.
Updates and resources:
(1) One of the first four black students to integrate Arlington’s schools died in October and this write-up about that moment in Arlington’s history is worth reading.
(2) After the Philadelphia Starbucks incident, two witnesses created an organization called From Privilege to Progress, which has some wonderful resources and suggestions for how to show up against racism.
(3) A few of our members let me know about the New York Times Race/Related newsletter edited by Lauretta Charlton. It’s free!
(4) The FBI recently released its latest hate crime count for 2017. The SPLC countered quickly to describe the ways in which that report (which has significantly increased numbers over past years) is not even close to counting all of the incidents of hate crime in our country.
(5) Color of Change, SURJ, and Matt McGorry teamed up for Bold Conversations to encourage white people to talk to white people about racism (language heads up for the video). SURJ Families also has resources around the holidays (sorry I didn’t get these out before Thanksgiving!). And here’s some encouragement — people can change their views!
Thank you for reading, listening, and speaking up.
Listen. Amplify. Follow.

Recognizing White Privilege

Hi Friends!
I’m sending this update early because I’m very excited to share a few recent developments with you.
First, I’d like to welcome a significant number of new members to our group. Last week I sent an email to my neighborhood about some recent expressions of racism towards our fellow neighbors (people of color) and I received a wonderfully positive response from many, who have subsequently joined our group. If you want to see a copy of what I wrote, I’m happy to share it. It can be nerve-wracking to speak up, so having an example and hearing from others who have done it can be helpful.
Also, if you’re new (or even if you’re not), please peruse our resource list here to see articles and other resources that might be useful as you engage in this work. There is also a list of organizations, many of which have email lists, if you want to start getting updates from those working in the public sphere for change.
A recent study in Virginia shows that eviction rates in our state are significantly affected by race, even after controlling for poverty and income rates.
As always, if anyone in the group is interested in a particular topic or event or relevant resource, please feel free to share it with the group. I’m always open to ideas and suggestions. I’m also actively seeking accountability partners, so if you know of community members of color who might be open to consulting/guiding our progress, please let me know.
Our friends at the Legal Aid Justice Center’s Immigrant Advocacy Program and VACOLAO have organized an information session about the proposed changes to the Public Charge Rule on Tuesday, November 27 from 9–11 am at UUCA.
For school district updates, the elementary boundary process is moving quickly. There is a Public Hearing on Tuesday, November 27 starting at 7 pm. The final vote will be on Thursday, December 6, which will start at 6 pm to allow time for public comment.
I wanted to share a couple of recent useful resources about the celebration of Thanksgiving.
(1) “Do Native Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving and Should You?”
(2) “How to Enjoy Thanksgiving Without Swallowing the Stereotypes”
One of the things you can do, for those of you with school-age children, is to think about the Thanksgiving story you tell them (or that they learn in school). Find ways to incorporate elements of the truth (age appropriate) and help them question the myths we have created around the holiday and share your own family’s values around the holiday and how they might differ.
For our white group members, please engage with the news story about the black security guard in Chicago who apprehended a shooting suspect and then was was killed by police responding to the shooting. If you have any hesitation about believing the significantly higher risk posed to people of color by police, this is just one of so many examples. It’s obviously being investigated, but that won’t bring him back and won’t bring lasting change. We don’t focus as much on criminal justice in this group, but there are direct ties to our educational system and our justice system. This is also a clear example of a white supremacist system working the way it is intended to work.
One of our group members shared this clip from the Daily Show after the election, an interview with Rebecca Traister, author of Good and Mad. The relevant part for this group is mostly in the second half when she talks about how white women have historically supported the white patriarchy and that those white women who are “waking up” need to follow the cues and leadership of Black women, who have been doing this work much longer.
And that connects perfectly with this video from Red Table Talk (hosted by Jada Pinkett-Smith) about the divide between women of color and white women (you don’t have to log in to Facebook to see it). It’s candid and compelling and also includes Jane Elliott who has been working on anti-racism work for a lifetime.
The Washington Post included an article about racial bias in online mortgage lending (much has been researched before about mortgage discrimination by banks). This means that computer algorithms are biased, too.
As news circulates about the horrific fires in California, it turns out that vulnerability to fires is higher for communities of color.
I wish all of you a very happy Thanksgiving holiday. Thank you for engaging in this important work!
Listen. Amplify. Follow.

Resources for Parents

Hi Friends,
What an election. Good signs, especially related to voters’ rights. Shaun King wrote about the Ocoee, FL election day massacre in 1920, which is just one example of the ways in which people of color have been deterred from voting over time. The recent examples of voter suppression may be less violent, but they are no less effective. I’m glad to see many people standing up to protect voters’ rights all over the country.
Thank you all for the recent discussions and sharing of events and resources. I love seeing group members taking action and sharing their experiences and perspectives!
This Saturday, November 10, SURJ NoVa is hosting “Talking to Kids About Race”. This is one of the first anti-racism events I attended a couple of years ago and I highly recommend it.
Integrated Schools released their new podcasts. You can listen to them here. They describe it as “Parents talking with parents about school segregation & integration, the choices we parents make and the ways we think about them, the struggles and surprises, the joys and mistakes.”
Also from Integrated Schools is this focus on Pittsburgh and its experiences of school integration and segregation. There are overlaps and connections for white supremacy between people of color and people of Jewish faith. The experiences are not all the same, but there is common ground.
I wanted to share Hold the Line Magazine again because they have such great resources (and t-shirts now!). It’s all about supporting caregivers so we can raise our kids to make even bigger change than we can.
I’m amplifying a request from the local NAACP branch to support the Alexandria Domestic Violence Program and its upcoming Children’s Holiday Party. More information is here.
Thank you all for your continued work on yourselves and in your community.
Listen. Amplify. Follow.

PTA Spending Disparities and Police Accountability

Hi Friends!
For those who celebrate, Happy Halloween. I usually remind everyone sooner than this, but please be aware of avoiding cultural appropriation when it comes to costumes. Megyn Kelly’s recent disastrous comments are a tiny piece of how important this is.
The County PTA’s meeting this month included a discussion of appropriate PTA spending and a reminder of PTA spending inequities. For your reference, In 17/18 FY, elementary schools in the County raise between $20,000 and $190,000 each year. Analyzed on a per student basis, Elementary School PTA spending ranges between $42 and $304 per student. I have mentioned this before, but of the nine Title I schools in the county, eight of those are located south of Route 50. The County PTA is working on creating a flyer to improve awareness of these inequities and we’re also working to educate PTAs about appropriate spending and encouraging contributions to the grant fund, which is one way we’re trying to address these inequities.
Please notice that recent terrible events are highlighting the way the police treat people suspected of committing a crime, even a horrifically violent one — in general, white suspects are brought in alive and without violence, while POC (threatening or not, having committed a crime or not) experience police reacting with “fear for their lives,” often with deadly force. Look at the Charleston church shooting, the pipe bomb maker, and the Pittsburgh shooting for recent examples. Police have to be held accountable, or this double standard will just continue. Shaun King advocates changing the prosecutors in our country to address this — 95% of whom are white and the majority of whom are elected. Those races matter as much as the higher profile ones.
If you haven’t had a chance to comment on the potential changes to the Public Charge Rule, there’s a really helpful form you can fill out (and some useful suggestions) here.
The County recently made progress on improving affordable housing options. The County Board also approved a swimming pool in Nauck. If you aren’t aware of the racism behind swimming pools in America, check out this article.
IntegratedSchools shared an article highlighting how school choices for families of color are more fraught and stated specifically: “…we must be cognizant of the different realities facing parents of color. We talk a lot about why Integrated Schools is largely a white &/or privileged parents group; in part this is specifically because he work of disrupting school segregation can not be on the backs of families of color. Period.”
Upcoming Events:
(1) SURJ-DC is having an orientation/welcome session on Saturday, November 3 from 1–3 pm.
(2) VOICE is doing a nonpartisan Get Out The Vote in part of the 10th District (Manassas and Sterling) on November 3–6 with a half hour training beforehand.
(3) VOTE VOTE VOTE November 6. If you need any help deciding who deserves your vote, the ACLU has a great tool that will tell you how candidates measure up on a bunch of different issues.
Listen. Amplify. Follow.

Staying on Top of Things

Hi Friends!
A couple of our group members have mentioned development along Lee Highway recently and I haven’t been following that very closely until now. There’s a Lee Highway Alliance and you can subscribe to their Google group for updates. Can one of our more knowledgeable members give the group a snapshot of what is happening and what antiracist affordable housing advocates would like to see happen? If someone in this group is interested, how can we advocate for those goals?
There’s a second elementary school boundary proposal out, and the school district is again seeking feedback. I watched part of the October 17 “What We Heard” Community Meeting and it was quite heated at times. Deadline this time is October 29.
Challenging Racism is holding a reception fundraiser on November 16 from 7–9 pm, which will include the Vice Chairman of the County Board as a special guest. Tickets are available. If you need help getting connected, let me know and I’ll try to help.
There was an interesting story in the New York Times about Charlottesville and an in-depth look at its segregated schools and the context around them.
There was an article in Black Enterprise about Pfizer’s VP of Corporate Affairs, Karen Boykin-Towns, who has been working on African-American healthcare equity issues.
The Administration is trying to sneak this one under the radar and it has huge implications for all immigrants — a change to the “public charge” law that would make receiving certain types of public benefits. Public comment is open until December 10.
K.A. Dilday wrote a very interesting piece about why she doesn’t support the effort to integrate New York’s specialized high schools and it’s worth a read.
The Administration is attempting to restrict the definition of gender, which will have huge implications for inclusion, equality/equity, and basic rights and safety of anyone who doesn’t conform to male or female.
For an uplifting example of people taking care of each other (and white people using their privilege for good), there was an article in the Washington Post about a family who started taking care of their son’s friends and who now run a nonprofit helping DC kids transition to adulthood.
Listen. Amplify. Follow.

Change Takes Time

Hi Friends!
I don’t often use this group email as a soapbox for myself, but I’d like to start with a morale check-in, since I’m sure I’m not the only one sometimes overwhelmed by the pace of things (elementary school boundaries, for one), and it’s hard to remember that the changes we seek are part of a slow process. There is no immediate fix. No single change will make everything better. These are long-lived, complicated issues, and it will take time and patience and persistence to make a difference.
I think the bottom line is that the School Board won’t do anything radical without a groundswell of support from parents. The kind of upheaval that intentional integration would have will make many parents upset and needs to have grassroots support. That’s what our group can make happen, by encouraging people to speak up, empowering those who feel the way we do, encouraging others to join us, showing that we are a coalition with accountability and diverse perspectives and views, and the willingness to make choices in our own families that express our values. The more people who speak up on this goal, the more likely it will be politically possible to act on.
Which is also why the county-wide approach I mentioned last week makes sense — it refuses to pit planning units and schools and neighborhoods against each other — it focuses on giving families equal access to information and opportunity for their children to succeed, to support the right for each family to make the best choices they can for their children when it comes to what kind of school environment and support they need. I think everyone can get behind that. And then, we work to make sure that families with less privilege, less mobility, less wealth, have the same access to quality education no matter where they live in our community, no matter who they know, no matter what language they speak, no matter what their income might be.
The boundary process is happening fast and while I definitely want our voices to be raised each time we have the opportunity, we also need to take the long view about change. This boundary process is not going to fix segregation in our County. I would love for improvements to happen, and they might, but it’s not going to solve the problem. That’s going to take longer. It’s going to take conversations over time, changing the culture in our County so more people consider the common good more often and more people are informed about the realities facing many of our families. We have to keep putting one foot in front of the other, keep showing that there is growing support for equity measures, even when those measures require some sacrifice (or perceived sacrifice) to improve things for all of our students.
*stepping off my soapbox*
I found out a little more about how the County schools calendar can be changed (regarding Columbus Day). School Board policy would need to identify that day differently from the federal government holiday list. I’ll try to find out more about what a change like that would require. I don’t know what it will take to get some traction at the County level, but if anyone knows or wants to find out, let me know!
We’ll plan to do the movie screening of “The Uncomfortable Truth” after Election Day. I’ll keep you posted about our plans for that.
One of our group members let me know about a workshop series called “None of us is free until all of us are free” by Jews United for Justice (JUFJ). The first one is October 25 and the details are here.
I sent out an email to all PTA Presidents last week from the County PTA about our grant fund and setting up meetings with each PTA Executive Board to learn about each school’s resources and needs. I haven’t received many responses yet, so if you’re involved in your school’s PTA, please feel free to ask about participation in these meetings (and in donating/applying to the grant fund — the fall application deadline is November 26). I’ll also be presenting about this at our October 22 County PTA meeting.
VOICE has been sending out issue briefs that are a wonderful snapshot of talking points and context around race-related issues ahead of their event on Sunday, and are great reference documents if you’re unsure about the specific issues. Go here to see them (as of right now, Criminal Justice (Cash Bail) and Schools are posted, more will be posted soon).
Significant voter suppression efforts are taking place (Georgia in particular has been in the news). The NAACP, among others, is working very hard to get out the vote next month.
I leave you with an article by Eddie S. Glaude, Jr. in Time, a beautifully written and insightful piece that ends with “Forward movement is halting, inhibited, interrupted. Our history, if we’re honest, suggests we will fail. No matter. We go on — together.”
Listen. Amplify. Follow.

So Many Folks Doing Good Work

Hi Friends!
If you have any doubt about why disparities in our county matter, check out the ArlNow article and the tool it used, called “Opportunity Atlas.” Interestingly, this is focuses on low-income rather than race, but as we know, the two are intrinsically linked. Thanks to several of you who told me about this article.
If any of you have been to events relevant to this group, I’d love for you to share your thoughts and observations with the group (or through me). I’m certainly not able to go to everything or read/listen to everything, so feel free to share with the group anytime.
Here are some upcoming events:
(1) VOICE is hosting Governor Northam and Attorney General Herring at its Assembly event on Sunday, October 21 from 4–6 pm in Fairfax.
(2) Destination 2027 and the Community Progress Network (CPN) are co-hosting an event on November 1 from 5:30–8:30 pm at Wakefield High School called: My Health. My Voice. A Community Conversation About Being Healthy in Arlington — the main goal is to hear from low-income Arlington residents. I’m sharing it with all of you because they need volunteers to help with set up, serve dinner, clean up, and help with other tasks. If you’re interested, please let me know.
(3) Dr. Alfred O. Taylor, Jr. will be speaking at the Black Heritage Museum of Arlington on October 23 at 7:00 pm about his book “Bridge Builders of Nauck/Green Valley: Past and Present.”
I spoke at last week’s School Board meeting (let me know if you want to see it). My focus lately has been very much on the County as a whole and on the idea that student success should not be dependent on the volume of parents advocating on their behalf (and I mean volume in both senses).
I’ve been finding a huge number of resources lately that I’d like to share (sorry, this is a bit of a fire hose):
(1) The Office of Equity & Excellence at APS has started Black Parent Alliance Meetings. I’m hoping this means an improvement in listening, amplifying, and following their voices for progress in our schools.
(2) The ACLU put out a very helpful tool related to voting along the lines of criminal justice reform and they created a tool so you can see how the candidates measure up. Just put in a zip code to see the results.
(3) The National League of Cities has a Race, Equity, and Leadership (REAL) initiative, which includes a helpful powerpoint presentation (PDF) that one of our members forwarded to me.
(4) DC Reinvest is working with neighborhoods to divest from Wells Fargo (something our local chapter of NAACP is working on doing as well) and might provide a model if community members want to push for this in our community (if it hasn’t already divested).
(5) Brooklyn is changing its middle-school admissions policies into a lottery for which schools must set aside a certain number of seats for low-income students. This could be a great model for choosing integration.
(6) A group member led me to the Zinn Education Project, which led me to rethinking schools and Teaching for Change. These organizations give me hope for improving education content. If any of you are interested in instructional content, please consider being the Advisory Council on Instruction rep for your school.
I’ll leave you with yesterday’s oped by Petula Dvorak.
Listen. Amplify. Follow.