Privilege and the Power of Speaking Up

Hi Friends!
Sorry for the delay. This is a long one. Important things, even at the end! Please make the time to engage with this.
I’ve been thinking a lot this week about privilege and the power of speaking up. We each have a role to play in shifting the balance of power to those with less of a voice. As long as we have a system in place that prioritizes the loudest voices, we must ensure that WE are the loudest voices when it comes to advocating for equity and antiracist progress. We must ensure that our voices are amplifying marginalized and disadvantaged people in our communities. Arlington County government and Arlington Public Schools are both susceptible to influence from small groups of loud community members. We must work to ensure that they hear about the needs of people with the least, that they hear the voices of people who are not listened to.
There are several upcoming opportunities to advocate at the County and APS levels, particularly about their respective budgets. We should spend money on the things we value most, and our budgets should reflect our values. There will be people speaking up against efforts to support equity — we must counter and overwhelm those voices with advocacy for what is best for all of us, not just some of us. An example that is already happening is that in response to the Arlington Public Libraries proposing to eliminate library fines for late books (a fee that disproportionately affects people of color and people experiencing poverty), some community members are advocating against the proposal because late fees promote individual responsibility. Since we are guaranteed that some people will work to undermine equity efforts, we must guarantee that we will explicitly, repeatedly, loudly, and sustainably support equity efforts.
Here is the upcoming advocacy timeline for County and APS:
February 27 — Interim Superintendent’s Proposed Budget presented to the School Board at 7:00 pm
March 19 — Community Forum on County Capital Improvement Plan (CIP)
March 25 — APS Public Hearing on Interim Superintendent’s Proposed Budget
March 31 — County Board Budget Public Hearing at 7:00 pm
April 2 — County Board Tax Rate Public Hearing at 7:00 pm — there is a possibility that the tax rate would be lowered, meaning that cuts would need to be made — please advocate for keeping the tax rate the same, show that we’re willing to pay for the support our schools and communities need.
April 30 — deadline for sharing feedback on the County Manager’s Proposed CIP before it is shared with the County Board.
April 30 — APS Public Hearing on School Board’s Proposed Budget
June 30 — County Board Public Hearing on the County Manager’s Proposed CIP before a vote in July.
By June — APS School Board will adopt a new CIP (timeline for next steps prior to this unclear as of 2/27/20)
How to advocate:
- Attend Open Door Mondays with Arlington County Board members and/or Open Office Hours with School Board members for a dialogue with elected officials about your concerns/thoughts.
Speak at a County Board meeting (see above timeline) — you can sign up ahead of time online or you can sign up in person at the meeting, to speak on an agenda item. It is best to have one person speak on behalf of a group (and have the group stand in solidarity while one speaks) rather than have several people speak on the same idea separately.
Speak at a School Board meeting (see above timeline) — you can sign up ahead of time online or you can sign up in person at the meeting, to speak on an agenda item or to speak during the public comment period.
- Communicate directly with County Board members using their individual email addresses (Libby GarveyChristian DorseyKatie CristolEric GutshallMatt DeFerranti), and copy County Manager Mark Schwartz and Deputy County Manager Samia Byrd, to encourage internal dialogue about community support for equity efforts.
- Communicate directly with School Board members using their individual email addresses (Tannia TalentoMonique O’GradyReid GoldsteinNancy Van DorenBarbara Kanninen) and copy Interim Superintendent Cintia Johnson and relevant APS Executive Leadership
- Connect with advisory groups and committees that advise our elected officials: APS Citizen Advisory Groups and School Board Advisory Councils and Committees, and County Advisory Groups and Commissions.
- Your local school PTA can also advocate in non-political ways within its mission of the education and well-being of students.
- Get lots of people to join you! Feel free to share on this email list when you’re doing something and see if others will join you.
In a related, but separate opportunity, some of you may have heard from Symone Walker’s School Board campaign about now running as an independent. I haven’t spoken up yet in this group about my preferences for the two School Board seats that are open this year, but I will now. Symone is a friend of mine and a colleague in equity work, particularly in education. I support her fully in her run for Arlington School Board. There are two events coming up if you want to meet her:
- Sunday, March 1 from 2–4 pm at Ryoko Reed’s house, 34 North Granada Street
- Sunday, March 8 from 2–4 pm at Natalie Roisman’s house, 5307 North 2nd Street (between Granada and Greenbrier)
I encourage you to come out and ask questions and show your support.
I would like to hear from you if you would be interested in attending one (or both) of these possible events:
- monthly meetings to chat with Facing Race in Arlington group members about our work, our questions, our challenges, to support each other and build our community connections.
- an Arlington School Board candidate forum specifically on equity, partnering with other equity organizations in Arlington, before the May 7/9 caucuses. I would invite all candidates, regardless of party affiliation.
Please let me know if these opportunities interest you.
And now for some recent resources:
- I thought the Arlington Magazine interview with Arron Gregory was a great insight into what we can expect and how we can support his efforts at APS.
- Christopher Ingraham writes that the “U.N. warns that runaway inequality is destabilizing the world’s democracies” — yet another reason to make an effort to address this!
- Hannah Natanson writes about “Canceled foreign trips and ‘palpable’ anxiety: Schools prepare for the coronavirus” but particularly about how preparations and proposed solutions impact marginalized and disadvantaged populations and how racism comes into play in the way the disease is discussed, including among students.
- A group member shared the discussion at the Arlington Committee of 100, called “How Does Race Impact Student Experience in Arlington Public Schools?” from January 8, 2020.
- Theresa Vargas writes about how “The District decided to do right by homeless children — but only after pleas, worries and questions” — which connects back to the issue of which voices are heard and which are ignored.
Please check out the Facing Race in Arlington FB page for info on upcoming events — and thanks again to Leah for managing/maintaining that for us! However, I do want to highlight The National Antiracist Book Festival coming up on April 25. Let me know if you want to join me for a session!
Let’s get to work!
Listen. Amplify. Follow.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.