Privilege and Pain

Hi Friends,
I’m writing a special message because this week’s national news has been particularly rough. I had a very helpful brainstorming conversation with a friend and it has prompted me to share my thoughts with you.
First, be forgiving of yourself. None of us are or will be perfect anti-racists. In this work, we learn to recognize our privileges, the things that make our lives easier than others. Don’t let your awareness of your privileges prevent you from acknowledging that this is hard for everyone, even you. Yes, some people have it harder right now — that was true before the pandemic. Yes, it’s important to acknowledge this, to recognize our role in perpetuating it, and to address it. That is long-term work. It is also completely acceptable to fall apart and sob for hours about a lamp your young child knocked over and broke because the stress and anxiety and overwhelmed feelings are real and are just too hard to bottle up forever. Be gentle with yourself. And continue with the work.
I have been reading the words of so many people who have chosen to share their feelings, their perspectives, their pain (WhitneyMicheleEugene, and many others). I admit to feeling a mix of responses — guilt, sorrow, anger, loss, powerlessness.
I want to talk about guilt. Guilt, and the defensiveness that sometimes follows, undermines our ability to act. It is something we will always struggle with. I feel it when I don’t speak or act to defend the young black man in the grocery store being verbally attacked by an older white man who was angry that the young man had left his cart in line to get one more item from the shelves. I feel it when I see and hear the pain and anguish of my fellow human beings and know that I have a role in the perpetuation of that pain. I feel it when I see a white woman intentionally weaponizing her privilege to threaten the life of a black man. I feel like I have not done enough when people of color keep dying.
And yes, I know I am not solely responsible for preventing racist acts. However, I recognize that the way I post in this space could sometimes convey silence and complicity because I do not speak up every time something awful happens. Therefore, I want to be open with all of you about how and why I choose to give voice to the racism and injustice that surrounds each of us every day.
I have consciously decided not to make this group an accounting of the racism and injustices that happen multiple times a day in our country. My goals are to raise awareness, to call (white) people in to engage in this work, and to encourage culture change so that anti-racism work becomes the norm. I strive for a balance between outrage and inspiration, being honest about the challenges that exist and about the opportunities for change. I have to take a silver lining approach, partially because it is in my nature to do so, but also because I know if my updates are too painful or depressing that I could lead a group member to disengage from the work. That is the opposite of what I hope to do.
None of us have this all figured out. All of us could do more. Everyone is struggling right now. The pandemic and current health crisis will pass. What will not pass, unless each and every one of us takes anti-racist action, is the systemic and individual racism that kills people of color every day in this country. If you haven’t already resolved to make anti-racism part of the rest of your life, do so now. And when you fail, which each of us will do many times over, learn from it, keep going, and bring a few more people along with you.
Listen. Amplify. Follow.

How Community Members Are Engaging

Hi Friends!
I hope this message finds you safe and healthy. Thank you to all of you who participated in our School Board candidate chats. I learned a lot from our candidates and from all of you and I appreciate you taking the time to join us. Please return your ballot before May 30!
If you’re cutting it close with the deadline, “The Arlington Dems recently announced that voters will be allowed to drop-off their ballots at the South Glebe Post Office, which is located at 1210 S. Glebe Road by 11 am on May 30. Tell the postal worker that the ballot is for direct delivery into P.O. Box 40010 for the School Board Caucus. The ballot must be in the addressed and stamped envelope provided by Arlington Dems. The Post Office is open 9 am to 5 pm during the week and 9 am to 11 am on Saturday May 30.”
To follow up from my message last week, I’m working on the equity lens post separately from my weekly updates. I’m hoping I can complete that soon.
I heard from several of you who watched the event last week with Dr. Ibram X. Kendi and really enjoyed it. You can view the archived video here (you have to register, but it’s free!).
THIS THIS THIS! (Courtney Ahn Design, “A Guide to White Privilege”)
Steven Krieger wrote an op-ed about the barriers involved in the Arlington Democrats’ caucus process, making it harder for many community members to participate. We touched on this briefly during our chat with him a couple of weeks ago and I appreciate his follow-up.
A group member shared a resource with me to share with the group: “Janet Blount is a career counselor and certified coach who has designed a career exploration program for parents, grandparents and other caring adults. Her workshop provides the skills, tools, and confidence for adults to guide elementary, middle, and high school children in exploring various career options. Her work focuses especially on economically disadvantaged families and those who traditionally have been underserved in K-12 and higher education in terms of preparation for career. Her web site is"
Arlington Magazine had an interview with the incoming APS Superintendent, Dr. Francisco DurĂ¡n, including questions about equity, distance learning, and the APS budget.
A group member shared “Solidarity Means Supporting Organizing & Policy Change” which advocates following and amplifying multiple social justice organizations and tells you how.
A reminder that if you’re looking for ways to help your community members during this difficult time, there are many opportunities.
- The CCPTA is collecting PTA/school based efforts and posting opportunities on its website.
- The Arlington Community Corps is connected to many County efforts (including AFAC and APAH) and is sending out opportunities to help to its membership.
- Arlington County continues to build its resources for residents, particularly for food assistance and housing.
Volunteer Arlington also has many ways you can help.
A group member let me know about these events coming up in June: “On Monday evenings throughout June 2020, join the John Mitchell, Jr. Program for History, Justice, and Race at George Mason University, Busboys and Poets, and the Maryland Lynching Memorial Project for virtual town hall discussions with authors, activists, and academics on pressing issues at the intersection of race, peace, and justice. The first virtual town hall will feature antiracist essayist and educator Tim Wise on Monday, June 1, 2020 at 6:00 pm. This event is part of the A.C.T.O.R. (A Continuing Talk on Race) series at Busboys and Poets.”
Keep up the good work.
Listen. Amplify. Follow.

Local Opportunities To Raise Your Voice

Hi Friends,
There have been a lot of changes happening related to voting lately. The next opportunity to vote is June 23 for the federal primary for U.S. Senate for the Republican Party only. The Arlington County Board Special Election will be held on July 7. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is June 30, but it must be received by July 7, so please request one early to give you plenty of time to receive it and return it.
APS is requesting feedback on the data review for the Fall 2020 Elementary School Boundary Process by June 5. Please also continue to keep an eye on the School Board Policies that are being reviewedFor example, before May 22, you can comment on the Options and Transfers policy and point out that offering these application forms online only creates additional barriers for families and is neither equitable nor inclusive, which this policy claims to prioritize. More deadlines happen every week, so please submit feedback.
The need for rent/housing assistance is growing in Arlington County (and everywhere). I’m working hard this week to learn more about the resources available. The County has a great resources page and DHS is working hard to meet the need. However, there are barriers for some people to be served by that effort, so Arlington Thrive is usually the second level of assistance for families. Please consider donating to Arlington Thrive so they can more fully support more families as the need grows in our community.
Additionally, Arlington Community Corps has started a wish list for diapers and other assistance for families with little ones. Please consider purchasing what they need, which will be shipped directly to their storage location and then distributed to families in need.
Please share with your networks that there is a special expansion of SNAP benefits during the pandemic (P-EBT) that can include any families eligible for free or reduced meals (FARM). This means that any families who were or are newly eligible for this program should apply with APS, which will then submit the information to the state program. APS recently shared more information about this as well.
I wanted to share a recent op-ed in the Washington Post by Paul G. Pinsky, “After the coronavirus, our schools can do more than just catch up” about the opportunities we have to rethink how we educate our children. While his focus is on our school calendar, I know there are other things we can be rethinking right now, especially for taking an equity lens to everything we are doing.
Speaking of which, I’m putting together some research around what it means to take an equity lens to something. We talk about it a lot, but most of us (including me sometimes!) can’t explain what it actually looks like to implement. I’m going to help us learn more about what this looks like so we can more effectively advocate our leadership, colleagues, neighbors, and community members to ensure meaningful progress. The current crisis has opened so many more eyes to systemic disparities in our society — we must ensure that we learn from our past and act to support positive change.
Thank you all for continuing to engage with this. I know things seem so impossible, so overwhelming. Trust that this, too, will pass, and we will get through this. Every effort we make matters.
Listen. Amplify. Follow.

Where Our Work Is

Hi Friends,
There are so many articles and resources about Ahmaud Arbery, but I wanted to share this one, from Wes Moore, “We almost didn’t hear about Ahmaud Arbery. These stories must not go untold.” This is where our work is.
Related to that, I’m very excited to share an amazing document called “Continuum on Becoming an Anti-Racist Multicultural Organization.” This is such a great resource for clearly describing what it means to be at each of these stages, and what improvements are needed. Please find ways to apply this to any relationship you have. It’s particularly helpful in illustrating that “good/bad” or “not racist/racist” binary is not the right way to look at the interactions and structures around us. As with many things, it’s a continuum, and we must make sure that we are traveling along it in the direction of progress. If you ever wanted a blueprint for how to dismantle systemic racism, this would be a great start.
I’m also excited to share a new podcast from Bryan Jackson, who I connected with in his previous work with Arlington’s Offender Aid and Restoration (OAR), who is now focusing on fathers of color and healthy parenting. It’s called Dad Genes: Exploring the DNA of Healthy Fathering.
I appreciated Monica Hesse’s recent article, describing a relevant crossover in the language being used about “Believe women” (which has been altered by detractors to “Believe all women”) and “Black Lives Matter” (which was shifted by many to “All Lives Matter”).
- Robert DesJarlait wrote about why the Land O’Lakes maiden is not a stereotype.
- I have probably shared this before, but it’s wonderful and needs to be revisited from time to time. Sam Dylan Finch wrote “9 Phrases Allies Can Say When Called Out Instead of Getting Defensive
- Katti Gray wrote about how black communities can resist the pandemic, a great discussion of systemic racism in health systems and the legacy of health issues for many black Americans.
And for everyone’s awareness, there is a lot of help being offered in Arlington County, including food assistance for anyone quarantined or unable to go out to get groceries for any reason.
Please stay safe and healthy. Think about how new levels of awareness and willingness to help each other and collaborate could end up being a positive lasting impact of this crisis. This is not a short-term problem. We have opportunities to make the long-term outcomes an improvement over what we had before. Let’s keep seeing the potential — try not to get bogged down. Take care of yourselves and each other.
Listen. Amplify. Follow.

New Leadership Gives Me Hope

Hi Friends!
Sorry for the delay this week. I just have two quick things to share in case you missed them, things that give me hope about where our local leadership is heading. Obviously, we need to see action supporting our hopes, but for the moment, I’m feeling optimistic and wanted to share that with you.
The Arlington Democrats endorsed Takis Karantonis for the special election for Arlington County Board.
Arlington Public Schools and the Arlington School Board named Dr. Francisco Duran as the new Superintendent.
Also, please remember that we have three more chats with School Board candidates coming up. Please RSVP at to receive the Zoom link to attend.
Terron Sims
Sandy Munnell
Symone Walker
I hope you have a good weekend.
Listen. Amplify. Follow.