Systemic Inclusion in Schools

Hi Friends!
Huge news on the front page of The Washington Post about Parent-Teacher Organizations (PTOs) and their role in making an effort to be inclusive. Included in that article was a reference to a DC organization called Kindred, which works with gentrifying schools to facilitate discussions of racism and encourage parents to understand and include each other in their school advocacy. How your PTA functions and includes/excludes families is  in our equity work. Please consider taking a bigger role in asking questions about inclusiveness and community engagement, especially if your PTA officer representation does not reflect the makeup of your school. (Full disclosure — I’m Randolph’s PTA president and our Board has been majority or completely white for a very long time even though only 11% of Randolph’s students were white in the 18–19 school year. My goal for my two-year term has been to build leadership equity and inclusiveness so that our core volunteers better reflect our population.)
Also big news this week is an article about the activism of the Black Parents of Arlington about how our schools are not serving all of its students equallyPlease be familiar with their advocacy work so you can listen, amplify, and follow their leadership in Arlington’s schools.
Here’s a great article about what parents of color want from white parents in their educational advocacy work. I was going to put this in my list of resources, but it’s so good, and so clear about what white allies need to do, that I wanted to amplify it more by putting it higher up in my update. Please read it.
On September 21, Arlington County committed “to developing an equitable approach to decision-making, with the goal of eliminating disparities in outcomes.” The resolution is here. The press release links to the Government Alliance on Race & Equity, which will be assisting in the process. It will be VERY interesting to see how this develops and I am very glad that Arlington County has taken this step. What comes next will matter. We will certainly be watching.
Voting! I’m sure many of you were inundated like I was with reminders that yesterday was National Voter Registration Day. Please consider getting involved in get out the vote efforts now, or volunteering to be active on Election Day. Also, in-person absentee voting opened on September 20, so please share this information widely (polls are open 8:00 am to 5:00 pm in Arlington and Falls Church City — Arlington: Bozman Government Center (Courthouse Plaza), 2100 Clarendon Blvd. Suite 320; Falls Church City: Office of Elections in City Hall, 300 Park Ave. Suite 206).
If you want to be involved in equity work at APS beyond PTAs, consider volunteering for the Advisory Council on Instruction (ACI). The council has subcommittees including the Advisory Committee on English Learners, Arlington Special Ed Advisory Committee, Equity and Excellence, Gifted Services, and Student Services. All of these committees either need members or equity allies. Several of our group members have already signed up and/or have experience serving on ACI, so reach out to me if you have questions and I can put you in touch with them.
I’m curious about a recent press release from APS about its new Student Support Process. It will be interesting to see how this looks in practice and whether families report more satisfaction with the way their concerns are addressed moving forward.
A reminder that the deadline of September 30 is approaching to provide comments on the Transgender/Gender-nonconforming Students draft guidelines for the PIP. People opposed to the policy will be commenting, so we need supporters to register their affirmation of our students in large numbers.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) named white supremacy as one of the most potent drivers of domestic terrorism, which is considered an equal threat to foreign terrorism. It’s a step in the right direction.
- Local non-profit organization, Offender Aid and Restoration (OAR), reached out to me to make sure I was aware of their Undoing Racism Workshops, which they are offering twice this fall. Please check them out!
- “League of Women Voters of Arlington (LWVA), Virginia Humanities, NAACP, the Alliance for Housing Solutions, and Challenging Racism are partnering for an event on the history of racism and housing in Arlington.” Saturday, September 28 from 1:00–3:00 pm at Wakefield HS. Register here.
- Challenging Racism is also hosting a webinar on Tuesday, October 8 from 4:30–5:10 pm called “Conversations about Race for Educators, Students, and Parents.”
- Arlington County is hosting two Housing Matters Forums on October 3 and 7
- A.C.T.O.R. too! (A Continuing Talk On Race) is an open discussion series hosted by Busboys and Poets. The next one is taking place on September 29 at 5:00 pm at the Shirlington location.
- There is a Town Hall Meeting about the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) which is a primary national education law for public schools. October 2 from 6–8 pm at Kenmore MS. Contact Ingrid Gant or Danielle Miles for more info.
- The Arlington County Board and the Alexandria City Council are meeting on Tuesday, October 1 from 7:30–9:30 pm at Gunston Community Center. “The unusual effort to fashion a joint approach on an array of related issues is meant to address concerns in both communities about the impacts on rents, housing prices, schools, streets, the environment and more in the wake of Amazon’s arrival and expected expansion, over the next 15 years, of its headquarters workforce to 25,000 employees.” The meeting is open to the public, but there will not be an opportunity for public comment.
Keep working.
Listen. Amplify. Follow.

Access and Opportunity

How Are Your Actions Supporting White Supremacy?

Fair Compensation for POC Educating White People

Hi Friends!
Happy September!
In case you missed it, I have expanded our group to my new website, White Folks Facing Race, which includes the Resource List. Please feel free to share this with anyone and everyone to spread the movement beyond the DC area. I’ll still post updates as usual to the email group, which will also be posted to Medium and this new website. The email list will still serve as a way to find out about local events and opportunities that might not get posted to the website. Additionally, any meetings I organize in Arlington for group members will only be shared via the email group.
I recently connected with the Program Director for Race, Equity and Leadership (REAL) Program with the National League of Cities and told her about my work. She suggested adding Undoing Racism — The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond to my Resource List and will keep me posted as she finds more resources to share.
Our group has an opportunity for a special listening session with VOICE related to how we can make Amazon’s arrival an opportunity to work towards and/or mitigate the detrimental affects that can come with tech companies’ presence. VOICE has a focus on the “whole community” and would like to hear from Facing Race in Arlington members your thoughts and priorities. We could meet on Sunday afternoon, October 6, or Tuesday evening, October 15. Please let me know your interest and/or date preference.
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One of our group members went to last month’s listening session at UUCA about white supremacist violence and shared with me some poignant and wonderful observations, which I am sharing with her permission:
- “My first big moment was reacting to Danny’s [Cendejas] first words (he opened after the prompt to share his thoughts/feelings about the recent terrorism at the hands of white supremacists) which were very quietly stated “Just believe us already.” Several of them responded to the prompt with how deep the wound still was from having been in Charlottesville and this recent wave of terrorism happening on the anniversary of that date. It made me wonder how they stay so strong in the face of years of adversity and continue to show up to help white people get it at an event like this. Tracey’s [L. Rogers] response to the first and other prompts was about how tired she was, maybe commenting on this exact idea.[…] She said on several occasions that she did her best to avoid predominantly white spaces and interacting with white people whenever she could because of the exhaustion. That was really sad to hear, but of course understandable.”
- “One thing that surfaced at this one was that Reparations must include cash to impacted families. Whitney [Parnell] told a story about how recently she was at a speaking event where Reparations was brought up and a white woman said to the crowd that Reparations didn’t have to mean money, it could mean an apology, which of course elicited a lot of head-shaking and disgusted laughter from the panel. It was made clear by all three black women that Reparations must mean money. Azza [Altirafi] brought up the point that black people’s bodies and labor brought direct cash to white people as capital and that there is no end to white supremacy without the end of capitalism (and reparations in the form of cash).”
- “Another thing that got brought up was how difficult it was to be paid for the work they were there doing. Whitney mentioned how hard it is for her to get paid for her professional work in her day job, because she gets pressured to offer up her services for the greater good, despite that work being her means of income. They took up a collection at the end, but who knows if they were compensated fairly.”
I want to point out some key things here. First, any people of color who choose to engage in the work of educating white people about racism and white supremacy deserve to be fairly compensated for their work. Whitney Parnell, for example, founded and runs Service Never Sleeps, which offers Allyship workshops that last six hours each and are amazing. She offers these for free because she cares so much about the work. While this is her choice, it should be the choice of those accepting her labor to compensate her anyway.
This also ties into reparations. I know that this can mean all sorts of things and it’s going to take a long time before something happens on a national level. So in the meantime, consider taking steps to redistribute your wealth through donations or becoming a customer or member with POC-led organizations and POC-run businesses. SURJ NoVa has offered in the past to pass along any donations they receive to these activists who have participated in these listening sessions and I’m sure they would again. This is heavy, vulnerable work and they deserve to be compensated accordingly. Go to the SURJ NoVa website and donate via PayPal, then email them to let them know your name and donation amount and that you want the funds to be designated to the activist listening session that took place on August 10.
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- An affordable housing effort is receiving regionwide attention.
- The Cherokee Nation Seeks to Send its First Delegate to Congress.
- Adeel Hassan interviewed Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s son and reflected on the 56th anniversary of his “I Have a Dream” speech.
- The Washington Post created “Teaching America’s truth” about education and how slavery is taught.
- Jessica Horan-Block wrote about how common childhood accidents are treated differently when the child is of color versus when the child is white (parents of color get accused of abuse).
- A reminder about Teaching Tolerance, especially now that school is back in session.
- Brentin Mock writes about the economic divide between whites and people of color and how systems were created to maintain and deepen that gap.
- Please support Sheila Bynum-Coleman in her delegate race for HD-66 in Virginia this Saturday, September 7th at 6:30 pm.
- Registration is open for White Awake’s “Roots Deeper Than Whiteness” online course. It will be recorded, so you don’t have to be available at a particular date/time.
- Sign up for EmbraceRace’s September 24 webinar called “Breaking Hate: Supporting children to push back against white nationalism” — it will be recorded and you can access it later if you register.
- SURJ NoVa shared a #UnitedAndFree Community Meeting on Sunday, September 8 at 5 pm related to the detention of migrant children.
Keep moving.
Listen. Amplify. Follow.