School Segregation Past and Present

Hi Friends!
Our meet and greet with Parisa is scheduled for Wednesday, August 14. Thank you so much to everyone who offered to host! The purpose of this event is to allow any group members who have questions about Parisa’s platform to come and discuss with her. We look forward to seeing you there!
The Washington Post had a wonderful article about Pr. William County students who fought against school segregation during a high school boundary process — some inspiration and lessons for our activism in Arlington. It takes intentional effort to prevent our schools from being racially and economically segregated because of the long history of housing segregation. It can be done, but we need to educate our communities so that they understand how their choices/advocacy for their individual students can lead to furthering systemic racism rather than dismantling it. It’s going to take dedication and creative solutions and in order for them to succeed, we must build support and buy-in in our community.
Also related to that, NPR ran a story about the court case that undermined Brown V Board and has a wonderful summary of segregation in our schools nationally.
I thought this Op Ed in the Washington Post by a group of 149 African Americans who served in the Obama administration was inspiring and painful at the same time.
A friend shared a graphic with me from a recent South Park game that included a difficulty slider that went according to the race of the character you played (white was easy, the darkest skin color was most difficult). I thought this was, on the surface, a cool way to show racial disparities. Unfortunately, the game didn’t follow through on changing the gamer’s experience based on the race of their character (which could have been an amazing tool).
One of our group members shared this article about a recent Yorktown High School grad whose parents are undocumented and how that has impacted her life and experiences growing up in Arlington.
Take a step every day to unlearn white supremacy.
Listen. Amplify. Follow.

Historical Context for Anti-Racist Work

Hi Friends!
Thank you all for the input on a meeting with Parisa. We’re circling around August 13, 14, 15, 28, or 29. I have one tentative host offer for one date (with a potential backup), and would welcome more!
- The SPLC put out a report about how Racism is Killing Black Americans, particularly related to the medical system.
- Alvin Bragg at the Washington Post wrote about the Justice Department’s refusal to bring charges related to Eric Garner’s death and what this means for criminal justice reform.
- SURJ National put out their newsletter for July with some great resources.
- George Takei is on a mission to preserve the lived experiences in Japanese internment camps (including his own) and is concerned about the parallel to current immigration camps.
- The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights put together a report on disparities in school discipline, which seems to have included some discrepancy about whether children of color actually have more behavioral challenges or whether that is implicit bias and systemic racism in the education system.
I don’t bring the President into our updates often because it’s so blatant and heinous and I’m sure all of us are already well-informed. But there were some interesting articles after last week’s developments that I wanted to share:
- Kathleen D. Vohs wrote about cognitive dissonance and how people work hard to avoid facing the truth about racism
- Tim Wise wrote about calling out racism openly and takes lessons from the political defeat of David Duke in the 1990s
Stay cool out there!
Listen. Amplify. Follow.

Support for Renaming Schools

Hi Friends!
Sorry for the delay this week! I was away on a much needed vacation. I hope you’re all finding a balance this summer between self-care and continuing the work.
If you’re in Fairfax County, the NAACP chapter there is asking for support to rename Lee High School. Please reach out to your school board member.
Resources for you:
- So, I don’t know if you’re aware, but there exist black newspapers. Unfortunately, many of them are going the way of printed news sources along with the rest. Race/Related shared a story recently about the Chicago Defender, which recently printed its last paper copy.
- There’s also a follow-up to last week’s New York Times busing coverage.
SURJ for its 10-year anniversary is putting together a Connecting the Dots Series and the presentations are recorded.
- A group member shared this wonderful perspective on race in N.C.Wyeth’s paintings, which is put beautifully into historical context and ideas of whiteness.
- Another group member shared a great piece about a senior prank/hate crime and the resulting consequences — great source of discussion.
Events coming up:
- Tuesday, August 6 is the Night Out for Safety and Liberation (NOSL) in DC
SURJ NoVa is hosting a De-Escalator Training on July 28
White Awake is hosting an online training called Building Local Community on August 18 and September 1
Keep striving.
Listen. Amplify. Follow.

Summer Challenge

Hi Friends!
I hope everyone weathered the storm safely. One of our group members shared news of the damage to the Halls Hill “segregation wall,” which I hope will continue to be preserved as a reminder of our history (in addition to the marker that was erected). And speaking of preserving history, there’s a hearing on designating Barry Farm in DC a Historic Landmark (July 11 12:30–5:00 pm).
I know it’s early, but back to school support is already needed for vulnerable families in Arlington:
Doorways is sponsoring a Back to School Campaign and there are several ways to contribute
APAH has started its backpack donation program (drop off the week of July 22)
So many interesting news and other resources lately:
- The Washington Post’s Donna St. George wrote a story about the criminalization of students who make silly mistakes (or adults who incorrectly interpret a situation), which more often happens to children of color, even in Arlington;
- Montgomery County is evaluating its school boundaries (anyone else break out in hives just thinking about it?) and the comments and resistance are familiar;
- Equity and homelessness resources (from Doorways’ recent newsletter) include the National Alliance to End Homelessness’ “Using Data to Promote Equity: The Demographic Data Project” and Safe Housing Partnerships’ study of the intersections between homelessness and domestic and sexual violence survivors and their families;
- And, conversations about busing have been all over the news lately after the Democratic debates.
Upcoming events THIS WEEK:
- SURJ is hosting an all-chapter call to celebrate its 10-year anniversary on July 14
Lights for Liberty is hosting a vigil in DC on July 12 to protest the human detention camps and the administration’s immigration policies
Challenge for July: Summer is a great time to meet people you’re likely never going to see again. Take a chance and find a way to bring up your anti-racism work (or things you’ve been learning about racism, privilege, etc.) in a conversation with a new (white) acquaintance and see what happens. In my experience, it’s generally positive! I’d love to hear about your experiences!
Listen. Amplify. Follow.

Achievement Gaps and Racial Disparities in Schools

Hi Friends,
Happy 4th of July! I hope you’re all finding ways to celebrate our country in ways that affirm our values and push us to help our country be even better.
There were some recent stories in the Washington Post about achievement gaps and racial disparities in schools:
- Debbie Truong wrote about Fairfax County’s recent report that racial disparities persist and highlights some actions taken to address them
- Truong also wrote about students pushing for change after mold was found in Alexandria schools
- Mikhail Zinshteyn wrote about the University of Minnesota at Rochester and its model of inclusion, which is producing achievement and graduation rates equally across racial groups. While it focuses on higher education, I imagine that the lessons here could be applied to education more broadly.
Related to this and the significant amount of turnover at APS, many groups are scrambling to have an influence on those leadership decisions. If you’re connected to any of those efforts, please work to ensure that underrepresented groups are being uplifted and amplified. The opportunity for a significant culture shift is huge, and we should each be working to advocate for a leader at APS who will embrace change and enact policies reflective of social justice priorities. The NAACP Arlington chapter is recruiting for its Education Committee (Yes, anyone can be a member! Let me know if you’re interested.) and I’m sure there are other opportunities to be involved in a way that listens, amplifies, and follows people of color and other disadvantaged groups.
There are so many stories about how the Administration’s immigration policies are spreading fear and trauma, even among American citizens. Policies like this don’t exist in a vacuum — they have ripple effects far beyond the initial impact. Teaching Tolerance shared resources for teachers to advocate for undocumented youth. And while the Supreme Court ruled in a favorable way on the census for now, the New York Times shared the impact the issue has already had on immigrant/undocumented people.
Here’s Anne Branigin’s take on recent Supreme Court decisions at The Root.
If you’re looking for an action right after the 4th, there’s an Alt-Right march planned on July 6 and a counterprotest has been organized.
SURJ-DC shared information about UNITE HERE, which is currently supporting national airline food workers in their “One Job Should Be Enough” campaign. There’s an Informational Picket Line planned for Tuesday, July 23 at 5 pm at Reagan National Airport.
Vox had a great article by Ana Valens about what allyship truly looks like for the LGBTQ community, which has great parallels for anti-racism allyship.
Keep going.
Listen. Amplify. Follow.