Focusing on Systems, Taking Individual Responsibility

Hi Friends!
There are five officially announced candidates for the two open APS School Board seats so far. You can find out more about each one of them from ArlNow’s January 14 update and you can see the videos of their candidate announcements from Blue Virginia. Did I miss any? It’s great that so many people are getting involved!
Maura McMahon wrote a recent post in ArlNow as part of the Ed Talk series about “Equity Through Desegregation.” I really appreciate her distinction between the APS and Arlington County definitions of equity — that APS is focused on the individual and the County is focused on the systems. I strongly advocate for the systemwide approach. Arlington’s schools have operated as islands because of high levels of principal autonomy, which has resulted in significant disparities from one school to another. As Maura points out, this has led to panic level responses by families to school moves, boundary changes, and school choice. If each of our schools is perceived as (and actually is) part of a consistent, quality, equitable system of schools, then family response to where their child will attend will calm down. A systemic approach is the only way to ensure equity in our schools and in everything we do related to the education and well-being of our children.
I want to highlight an article that Ijeoma Oluo wrote about how “Confronting racism is not about the needs and feelings of white people,” particularly, “Just once I want to speak to a room of white people who know they are there because they are the problem. Who know they are there to begin the work of seeing where they have been complicit and harmful so that they can start doing better. Because white supremacy is their construct, a construct they have benefited from, and deconstructing white supremacy is their duty.”
Resources:- If you’re interested in equity through literacy, the Oakland NAACP Literacy Campaign is a great example, including these additional resources.
- Columbia Law School considers “The Legacy of 1619: Columbia Law Explores the Impact of Slavery on the American Legal System
- The New York Times has some short documentary films called “A Conversation on Race” from multiple perspectives, which are really well done and important to watch.
- If you’re interested in learning more about microaggressions, you can watch “Conversations w/Great Minds P1 — Derald Wing Sue — The Ultimate White Privilege” from 2015.
- Watch the “NAACP Plan to Address Racial Disparities,” which aired on Twin Cities PBS in December 2019.
- The SPLC called attention to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “The Other America” speech, which he made at Grosse Pointe High School on March 14, 1968. They also connected to The King Center and its work to continue Dr. King’s legacy.
- Black Lives Matter at School released a 2020 Curriculum Resource Guide.
- EmbraceRace was interviewed by Gita Gulati-Partee on WBUR, who also featured the organization in a recent blog post.
I have quite a few resources on segregated cities, diverse cities, and redlining:
- Linda Poon writes about how “Neighborhoods With a History of Redlining Are Hotter on Average” (temperature, not desirability).
- The Atlantic shared a video about “‘Man-Killing Jobs’ and Environmental Racism” from August 2018.
- The University of Richmond created American Panorama, an historical atlas of the United States, including some amazing maps about redlining, migration, and family displacement.
- Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight wrote about how “The Most Diverse Cities Are Often The Most Segregated
- The Washington Post also has some amazing maps and data showing that “America is more diverse than ever — but still segregated
- WalletHub has data about how the United States is likely to change demographically by 2050.
Actions:- I want to raise Equality Virginia to your attention and in light of some awful legislation happening across the country related to transgender people, an opportunity to contact your local lawmakers to “Pass the Virginia Values Act (SB 868 & HB 1663) and Protect LGBTQ Virginians from Discrimination.” Please speak up and show your affirmation of transgender people.
- Real Justice launched a fellowship program starting February 6, open to any location and skill level — you just need a working internet connection to participate.
- OAR called attention to Social Action Linking Together (SALT) regarding another piece of legislation, this one related to incarcerated people and those returning from incarceration.
Events:- SURJ DC shared a Prison Pipelines and Detention Centers Panel Discussion on January 31.
- A reminder of the OAR Racial Equity and Inclusion Action Network meeting tonight, January 23.
Keep on learning.
Listen. Amplify. Follow.

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