Resources and Updates including Birmingham Letter Text

Hi Friends!
I hope you all had a good spring break! I have a bunch of resources for you this week. I also want to extend a welcome to our newest members who have joined recently after a “How To Talk to Your Kids About Race” discussion I facilitated earlier this week. If you’re interested in attending a similar conversation, please let me know and I’ll keep you posted if we set up another one.
Also, a reminder that our resource list is located here. I’m working on updating it, but it includes a huge number of resources (organizations, racism in general, school-specific, books, and some handouts). I’ll be working on adding more resources from my weekly updates as I make time.
The School Board is accepting applications for many of its advisory committees and this is your opportunity to be a voice for equity, inclusion, and ALL of our students. Please consider applying!
recent Washington Post article about school choices in DC is a good snapshot of what white families struggle with. My biggest takeaway was this part:
“Experts say families’ education decisions have consequences for the entire community. Halley Potter, senior fellow at the Century Foundation, a liberal think tank, said it’s not that white or affluent children inherently make a school better. But these families bring more resources with them. More experienced teachers often follow. Data show racially and economically diverse schools can help close the achievement gap between students from low-income families and their wealthier peers. Children from upper-income families experience no academic decline, and the experience of being in diverse classrooms can challenge their own prejudices. “There are individual benefits and societal benefits,” Potter said. “That’s something we want for all children.””
There’s a recent update to the desegregation efforts in NYC in the middle schools and how those efforts are impacting the communities. This part jumped out at me: “Students will now be admitted into middle schools according to a lottery, and each school has to set aside about half of its seats for students who are low-income, homeless or learning English.” and “Previously, many of the highest-performing students were concentrated in the most popular middle schools, which were also attended largely by middle class and white children.” The changes have impacted admissions, not impacts, so we’ll keep watching how this plays out.
The anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s writing of the open letter from Birmingham jail passed earlier this month and I found the text for your reference. This letter includes King’s references to the “white moderate” and his concerns about their role in upholding white supremacy:
“I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizens Councillor or the Ku Klux Klanner but the white moderate who is more devoted to order than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says, “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically feels that he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time; and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.” (page 3)
A group member was doing some research on housing segregation and how it connects to school segregation and shared these resources: “First, a paper that came out of a conference by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies in 2017 about the reciprocal relationship between housing policies and school segregation. It details how the relationship works but also provides actions communities can take to address and correct. Which is what led me to the Housing Virginia site. They worked with the school board and local government is Richmond to start a conversation and action plan to correct housing policies that affect schools. They put out a toolkit to help communities do the same and I think will also provide assistance in starting the process.”
Challenging Racism is taking applications for Facilitator Training, which will be held from July 8–12 from 8:00 am-5:30 pm. Application deadline is June 14.
Black Maternal Health Week was earlier this month and so I wanted to highlight some resources and organizations that are working on addressing the health crisis facing black mothers and babies in our country. If you want to learn more, check out Black Mamas Matter AllianceLaTonya Yvette’s recent book Woman of Color, and The Root’s The Glow Up section on reproductive justice, which suggests ways to help address these disparities. Also, Sunday, May 12 is Mother’s Day, and National Bailout usually runs a campaign to help bail out mothers sitting in jail who cannot pay their bail so they can be home with their families. The website is currently not loading for me, but check back closer to the date!
(1) The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study is hosting Vision and Justice on April 25 and 26, considering “the role of the arts in understanding the nexus of art, race, and justice.” It will be live-streamed, so you don’t need to try to attend in person, and “if you miss any part of the proceedings, video will be posted on the Radcliffe website and on the Harvard YouTube channel approximately 4 weeks after the event.”
(2) Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) is hosting a national call on April 29 “to help launch a national network of white men organizing other white men to be more effective accomplices to People of Color, women, femmes, trans and gender non-conforming folks in the struggle for collective liberation. The call will dive into why white men are largely absent from feminist and anti-racist organizing and how we might change that.”
Keep engaging in the work!
Listen. Amplify. Follow.

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