Links Between Education and Housing Discrimination

 Hi Friends,

I had the luxury of visiting the Supreme Court building on Saturday. It was so helpful for my heart to see the outpouring of people who were there to honor Ruth Bader Ginsburg. While at first it felt like a torch had been dropped, I came to see that she had inspired and encouraged so many others to carry torches of their own. The world is brighter for her efforts.

If men, particularly white men, raise their voices to stand in solidarity with women, to amplify us, to validate the challenges women continue to face, particularly women of color, then the protection (and expansion) of our rights is more likely. Those with the most privilege must use it to support those with less.

I also wanted to share the opening remarks I delivered at the CCPTA meeting on September 21.

- Arlington County is moving in the right direction regarding its logo and other symbols that feature Arlington House.
- “Arlington Reaffirms Commitment to Fair Housing Practices” (9/16/20)
- The Lee Highway Alliance has more information about “Renaming Lee Highway” (you can submit your new name ideas!) and links and documents related to the Working Group on Renaming Lee Highway. The first meeting took place on September 16.
- Rebecca Burnett at WDVM 25 shared that “Arlington Independent Media to produce series about county’s Black history.”

- Andre Perry writes about “When poorly veiled bigotry masquerades as choice” (The Hechinger Report, 9/15/20). PLEASE read this one. It highlights how choice is used in housing and schools: “In theory, choice means allowing people the freedom to choose the home, neighborhood and school that’s best for them. In practice, choice is frequently a code word for preserving white preferences — in housing and schooling — and excluding Black and Brown people. In education, the word “choice” too often accompanies statements about the need to escape failing schools and zip codes. Read: Black schools and neighborhoods.”

- Molly Stellino writes “College students push for race and ethnic studies classes to be required, but some campuses resist” (The Hechinger Report, 9/11/20). The next step beyond increasing the number of specific classes that include marginalized populations is to have an inclusive curriculum from the beginning, incorporating people from many backgrounds, meaningfully, in the way we teach every subject. Instead of celebrating Black history and culture ONLY in February, the teaching of Black history should not ONLY be found in a special class. It should be something we learn about alongside everything else, of equal value and relevance. Every subject, every class.

- Daniel C. Vock writes “GreatSchools Wanted to Disrupt Online School Ratings. But Did It Make Neighborhood Segregation Worse?” (Mother Jones, November/December 2020 Issue). The link between real estate listings and GreatSchools ratings is damaging, even though there are agent rules designed to prevent housing discrimination. “GreatSchools’ heavy reliance on test scores — and other measures that are highly correlated with race, like graduation rates and Advanced Placement test performance — means homebuyers looking at its ratings don’t have to harbor any racial animus to steer clear of neighborhoods with sizable Black or Latino populations. They just have to use GreatSchools’ filters on real estate websites to skip over listings in areas with poorly rated schools. Since homebuyers who can afford to move into areas with highly rated schools are largely white and Asian, the scores could reinforce the separation of neighborhoods along racial lines.” (emphasis mine)

- Linda Darling-Hammond, Abby Schachner, and Adam Edgerton write “Reinventing School in the COVID Era and Beyond” (Learning Policy Institute, 9/15/20)

- Brentin Mock writes “A Neighborhood’s Race Affects Home Values More Now Than in 1980” (CityLab, 9/21/20). It’s the next evolution of redlining: “In other words, if an appraiser is calculating the value of a home in a Black neighborhood by comparing it to houses recently sold around it, then chances are she is comparing it to other Black-owned houses that, because of the legacy of segregation, have handicapped values in the market compared to similar homes in white communities appraised at higher prices. The unfairly valued prices of homes in Black neighborhoods before the 1970s thus serves as the baseline for how homes are appraised and priced today. While the Fair Housing Act and Community Reinvestment Act forbade practices like redlining and denying mortgage loans based on race, they did nothing to readjust housing prices in segregated neighborhoods after they were passed.”

Fairfax County experienced an example of voter suppression when supporters of the current president temporarily interfered with a line for early in-person voters to access the Fairfax County Government Center on September 19.
- The Arlington County Civic Federation general meeting included a candidate’s forum on September 8.
- The Arlington Committee of 100 hosted a County Board & School Board Candidate Forum on September 9.
- Justin Wm. Moyer writes “Voting is a challenge for the homeless. Advocates are trying to make it easier.” (Washington Post, 9/10/20)

- Sanya Mansoor writes “‘At the Intersection of Two Criminalized Identities’: Black and Non-Black Muslims Confront a Complicated Relationship With Policing and Anti-Blackness” (TIME, 9/13/20)
- Kurtis Lee writes “Armed and Black. How a group of men licensed to carry guns say they are seeking racial justice” (Los Angeles Times, 9/21/20)
- Kara Harris writes “There’s a Movement to Defund School Police, Too” (CityLab, 8/24/20)

- Some resources from ADL were shared with me recently, including “Table Talk: Family Conversations about Current Events” and “25 Alternative Questions to the ‘How Was Your Day?’ Parent Question,” both of which have great tips for practicing conversations about racism and bias and tools to unlearn these tendencies.

- The SPLC released its “Vision For A Just Future,” (PDF) which provides guidance for systemic, governmental action: “We believe that it is not enough for the next Congress and administration to merely modify policies and regulations to expand rights and freedoms. Instead, we recommend bold, transformative actions that can revitalize and fundamentally realign our nation to eliminate white nationalism, structural racism and historic inequalities, to remove unjust barriers to fundamental voting rights, to expand inclusive anti-discrimination protections, and to reinvigorate our values as a diverse, welcoming and compassionate nation.”
- Abrahm Lustgarten writes “Climate Change Will Force a New American Migration” (ProPublica 9/15/20)

- Mijente shared a campaign for September 23 to call attention to Palantir’s funding of ICE before the company goes public.
- On September 24, there’s a webinar intended for educators and school administrators from the Virginia Department of Education that might also interest our members. “Working with Immigrant/Refugee Children & Families: Resources for Teachers and School Administrators (Session 2).” This might be of particular interest to parents and PTAs at schools with immigrant populations to consider improving inclusion and community engagement.
- Embrace Race is hosting “Same Family, Different Colors: Talking About Colorism and Skin Color Politics in the Family” on September 24.
- Arlington Public Library is hosting a virtual discussion on “Multiracial Coalitions in the Civil Rights Era” on September 29.
- Virginia Humanities is hosting a conversation with Martha S. Jones who wrote Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All on October 2.
- The Learning Policy Institute is hosting “Restarting and Reinventing School for Equitable and Empowering Learning” on October 6.

I’d like to share a quote from RBG that I’m keeping in mind from now on: “Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” Keep your chin up.

Listen. Amplify. Follow.

Undervalued Schools Expected to be the Solution For Everything

 Hi Friends,

I hope you all weathered the first week of virtual learning without too many tears or loss of hair. We knew it would be challenging and the systemic disparities many of our students will be experiencing are going to take direct and sustained action to address.

Significant advocacy is taking place in Arlington County and the surrounding area, friends. We each have a role to play.

The Washington Post asked readers to tell them “how they’re dealing with school reopenings.” I was particularly struck by the responses from Braden Bell and Caitlin Rogers. Braden pointed out, “Whenever society has a problem and those in charge can’t resolve it, the problem gets punted to the schools, which simply must deal with it as best they can.” Caitlin heartbreakingly said, “As my colleagues and I continue to navigate the reopening of our schools, I am forced to wrestle with two opposing messages: One suggests that my work is invaluable; the other suggests that my life is dispensable.” There is a serious disconnect between the way we depend on schools not only for educating our children, but for food, social services, childcare, safety, and health, and the way we fund our education system. Teachers are both undervalued and imagined to be super heroes. Until schools and our education system are recognized for the fundamental role they play in our society and economy (as we’re painfully finding out during this pandemic) and fully funded to perform their many roles, our society will be failing our children, a burden that will fall disproportionately to our most vulnerable. This is systemic racism.

- The Arlington County Council of PTAs (CCPTA) released an “Informational Statement for Families Regarding Privacy During Virtual Learning” raising concerns about live video and audio feeds in students’ homes, the status of teachers as mandatory reporters, and sensitivity to disparate economic circumstances and living environments of students.
- The Arlington Education Matters (AEM) Facebook group released its survey responses from the three School Board candidates (there are two open seats) regarding many questions of relevance to this group. You have to scroll down from that link to see the results. I have already spoken to the group administrator about changing the AEM logo.
- Hannah Natanson writes “High school students are demanding schools teach more Black history, include more Black authors” (Washington Post, 8/17/20). Curriculum content nationally (including in Arlington) centers the white (usually male) experience. Parents and students have power in asking for this to change, but only if we choose to use it.
- Cheryl Crazy Bull and Sara Goldrick-Rab write “OPINION: Tribal colleges, lifeline to rural and disenfranchised Native communities, need our help more than ever” (The Hechinger Report, 9/3/20)
- The Learning Policy Institute issued a brief called “The Federal Role in Advancing Education Equity and Excellence” (8/28/20)

- Arlington County, APS, and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management have partnered to bring COVID-19 services to communities disproportionately impacted by the virus through a new Health Equity Program. While masks, PPE, testing, and information are vital to address the spread of the pandemic, I wonder what further systemic steps will be taken to address the underlying causes of these health disparities and disproportionate impacts. What lasting structural changes are the County, APS, and the state of Virginia prepared to take?

- Lylla Younes and Sara Sneath write “New Research Shows Disproportionate Rate of Coronavirus Deaths in Polluted Areas” (ProPublica, 9/11/20)
- Will Parrish writes about “An Activist Stands Accused of Firing a Gun at Standing Rock. It Belonged to Her Lover — an FBI Informant” (The Intercept, 12/11/17). Red Fawn Fallis was imprisoned for 57 months and was just recently released.

- The Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney released its first issue of The Justice Digest, outlining the changes Ms. Dehghani-Tafti is implementing and why, outlining the barriers she is facing, and spotlighting progress.
- Keith L. Alexander writes “32 Black federal prosecutors in Washington have a plan to make the criminal justice system more fair” (Washington Post, 9/5/20)
- Arlington for Justice shared a short film from Justice Forward Virginia called “The Problem With Pretextual Policing” (8/17/20)
- The Virginia Coalition for Transforming Policing formed in June and has released a “Re-Imagine Police Package” and lots of resources about how to take action.
Black Parents of Arlington (BPA) released a statement calling for the removal of SROs in APS.
- Robert Benincasa writes “Political Divisions Drive Police Brutality Lawsuit Settlements” (NPR, 9/9/20)

- Haisten Willis writes “Building bans and affordable housing: A construction conundrum” (Washington Post, 9/3/20)
- Kyle Swenson writes “‘The clock is ticking’: Eviction crisis still looms without federal rent relief, advocates and local authorities say” (Washington Post, 9/3/20)
- Kriston Capps writes “With Rule Changes, Trump Launches ‘an Attack on Fair Housing From All Sides’” (CityLab, 9/9/20)

Ableism is another example of privilege. When we identify our points of privilege, we identify the places where we have power. How will you choose to use that power?
- Theresa Vargas writes “Chadwick Boseman’s death is fueling important conversation about disabilities, and what’s happening on the screen and behind the scenes” (Washington Post, 9/2/20).
- The Transgender Law Center houses “The Disability Project
- SURJ NOVA hosted a conversation about “Understanding How Racism and Sexism Intersect with Ableism” (video recording, 8/19/20)
- SURJ writes “From Disability Rights to Disability Justice: a Reflection on Crip Camp and 30 Years of the ADA” (Medium, 8/5/20)
- Amanda Stahl at SURJ writes “White People with Disabilities — We Must Show Up for Black Lives” (Medium, 6/18/20)

- George Mason University’s Center for Digital Media has a list of resources to discuss racism geared towards conversations with kids.
Netflix Bookmarks has videos celebrating black voices and children’s books, organized by age range.
- Theresa Vargas writes “They were names on headstones until the pandemic. Then they became reminders that ‘Georgetown was Black.’” (Washington Post, 9/12/20)
- Donna F. Edwards and Gwen McKinney write “We are Black women. Stop calling us ‘women of color.’” (Washington Post, 9/14/20)
Challenging Racism’s September newsletter is full of wonderful resources, books and films, and actions you can take.
- Patrisse Cullors writes “Seven Years of Growth: BLM’s Co-Founder and incoming Executive Director reflects on the movement” (Medium, 9/11/20)

- Arlington for Justice is hosting a “Ride for Black Lives” on September 26.
- White Awake is hosting “Roots Deeper Than Whiteness” training starting October 4.
- The Alliance for Housing Solutions is hosting two community conversations: “History of Race and Housing in Arlington” on September 29 and “Forming an Anti-Racist Housing Policy Agenda” on October 29.
- SURJ has put together an Election Defender program.

Find ways to bring these issues into your conversations with people. Establish yourself as an anti-racist person in your community by making it normal to discuss racial and economic disparities, even when that’s not what the conversation is focused on. Normalize anti-racism by showing that you’re not too uncomfortable to call attention to systemic disparities and racism and that you’re not afraid to take action to address it.

Listen. Amplify. Follow.

Addressing the System Means Looking Beyond Our Self-Interest

 Hi Friends,

School starts tomorrow in Arlington, virtually. Deep breaths.

Please register for our Allyship Workshop taking place on October 26! I know it seems far away, but we want to make sure we can “fill the room” so share widely. Thank you to all of you who have already signed up!

I just finished listening to Nice White Parents. It’s VERY worthwhile, only five hour-long episodes. If you’re a white parent, you will recognize yourself. Please be willing to hear it, sit with it, understand your role in perpetuating segregated schools and systemic racism. Remember that all of us are racist in some way because we’re all participating in a racist system. Until we are each able to take collective responsibility and act in ways that are not solely self-interested, the system will remain unequal. We each have a role to play.

- I am really sorry that I didn’t know about this event before it happened, but luckily, you can watch the recording! The Arlington County Human Rights Commission presented the 4th Annual Tiffany Joslyn Human Rights Forum on September 3, “The State of Black People in Arlington.” Please check it out (thanks to Symone Walker’s campaign email for sharing it!).
- APAH is running its “Ready to Learn” Fund (still open even though their goal was by August 31).
- The Arlington Committee of 100 is hosting a “County Board & School Board Candidate Forum” on September 9.
- You can watch the recording of the “Work Session on Arlington Public Schools and School Resource Officers” from September 3.
- VOICE has a strong campaign to prevent evictions in Virginia.
- A reminder that Census 2020 continues and that Arlington is still missing a quarter of its residents. There’s also some neat data being shared. You can get involved to help!
The Lee Highway Alliance in Arlington has a page up about the renaming process.

- Aaricka Washington writes “How do you teach antiracism to the youngest students?” (The Hechinger Report, 8/27/20)

- Erin B. Logan writes “White people have gentrified Black Lives Matter. It’s a problem.” (Los Angeles Times, 9/4/20)
- Linda Poon and Marie Patino write “CityLab University: A Timeline of U.S. Police Protests” (CityLab, 6/9/20)
- The Verge has a project called “Capturing the Police” about “how people use technology to bring awareness to police brutality and racism,” itself a form of protest.

- Christopher Mathias writes “White Vigilantes Have Always Had A Friend In Police” (HuffPost, 8/30/20)
- Eliza Griswold writes “A Community Organizer Takes On White Vigilantism” (New Yorker Magazine, 9/2/20)
- Amika Mota writes “I saved lives as an incarcerated firefighter. To California, I was just cheap labor.” (The Guardian, 9/1/20)
- Sarah Holder and Kara Harris write “Where Calling the Police Isn’t the Only Option” (CityLab, 9/3/20)

- The National Low Income Housing Coalition is hosting “A Live Conversation with Ta-Nehisi Coates and NLIHC” on October 6.
- The National Low Income Housing Coalition has created an “Opportunity Starts at Home” campaign, with lots of resources about the evictions moratorium, racial equity and housing, etc. They also have a voter and candidate engagement campaign called “Our Homes, Our Votes: 2020” with voter information by state to empower voting across the country.
- Kriston Capps writes “What the New Federal Eviction Moratorium Means” (CityLab, 9/2/20)

- Joseph Shapiro writes “Undocumented With COVID-19: Many Face A Long Recovery, Largely On Their Own” (NPR, 9/1/20)

- Adam Harris writes “The New Southern Strategy” (The Atlantic, October 2020 issue)
- Jennifer Bradley and Josh Sorin write “Let’s Not Go Back to ‘Normal’” (CityLab, 9/4/20)
- You can watch videos from the 2020 Virtual March on Washington.
- The Lakota People’s Law Project has a petition to the NCAA and American Pro Sports Leagues regarding ending racist team branding.

Hang in there this week! You are not alone.

Listen. Amplify. Follow.